(2007) David and Stella Gemmell, Corgi, £6.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-552-15113-9
Fall of Kings is the third and final book of David Gemmell's 'Troy' series, preceded by Troy: Lord of The Silver Bow and Troy: Shield of Thunder. Stella Gemmell concluded this Fall of Kings book after her husband's death in July 2006.
This edition includes a tribute to David Gemmell, by Conn Iggulden.
The book follows on immediately from the events at the end of Shield of Thunder without any recap, though events from the previous two books are often mentioned; however you should be able to read the second book in the series without reading the first one, even though it is clear it is not a stand-alone novel.
The plot can be summed up quite simply; Troy is defeated. In fact we know this even before starting the book, because of the legend told in Homer's Iliad. However, the way that story is depicted is the strength of the book.
One of the best known parts of the legend is how the Trojans were deceived by the gift of the wooden horse. That wooden horse is not present in this version of the legend, however, the betrayal and invasion of the city is depicted in a way that gives a very plausible explanation of that incident.
Similarly, Helen is described throughout the books as somewhat dowdy and timid, but the way she acts makes such an impression on the Mykene that the legend of her beauty is born.
As in the previous books Gemmell's fictional characters are depicted along with the legendary characters such as Priam, Achilles, Helikaon and Hektor. And it is these Gemmell created characters that make the book come alive.
The fate of the fictional warriors Kalliades and Banokles is one of the main narratives of the book. Banokles becomes a general we see how he deals with command as well as fighting. We follow Xander the healer as he struggles to deal with wounded men, which shows the reality and brutality of the war. Another side character is the smith Khalkeus; his experiments with metal are pointing the way to dawn of the Iron Age. These stories enrich the known legend and give it a personal touch.
Initially I was not too keen as the back-story of the Gershom character was revealed but the concluding events of the novel tie it up well and give it a very satisfying resolution.
Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be as many female characters in this book as the previous one. Kassandra is taken to the island of Thera early on and we only meet her again near the end of the book. All the others are minor roles, only Andromache features all the way through. The main emphasis of the book is a male perspective on the fighting and the fate of the besieged citizens of Troy.
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