The end of the Trojan War is here, did Gemmell delivered a satisfying conclusion in his final work?
The answer to that be mostly yes, and a few sections of no. I’m honestly quite conflicted about Fall of Kings. This is the last book in the Troy trilogy by David Gemmell, it’s also his final work before he passed away that ended up being finished by his wife, Stella Gemmell. Because this is his final work, there’s a part of me that really want to give this book a full 5 stars but I can’t due to a few problems I had with it. I’ll divide this review into two simple parts: parts that worked first and then parts that didn’t.
“Trust your instincts, and make judgements on what your heart tells you. The heart will not betray you.”
Firstly, the prose. Same as the first two books, the writing was once again top-notch. If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t have known that Stella Gemmell took part in the writing of this book; it totally felt like David Gemmell was still the one who wrote it completely. Second, the last 30% of the book which encompassed the final battle of the Trojan War was awesome. Hector vs Achilles was absolutely amazing. I’m serious. I’ve been waiting for the final duel between these two prominent figures since the first book and Gemmell wrote their duel with expertly that it ended up being one of the best duels I’ve ever read. It was superb, intense, compelling, and I completely lost track of time because of the breathtaking battle and drama that unfolds during this sequence. The characters of the trilogy felt real and the conclusion was also satisfying. Plus, Gemmell did a great reimagining on the “Trojan Horse” event that became the signal fire that took down the city of Troy. Finally, I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up caring about Kalliades and Banokles. I was super bored with their one hundred pages introduction at the beginning of Shield of Thunder, I didn’t realize that they would end up being some of the best characters from this trilogy alongside Hector and Odysseus. Not Helikaon the main character? Exactly.
“I was a man before I was a king, and no true man walks away when a friend needs him.”
Helikaon was amazing in the first book. However, since the second book, I feel like he’s becoming much more of a side character compared to the other characters. One huge example for this is that in the last battle of the Trojan War, Kalliades and Banokles were there entirely and they did a lot of bloodbath battles while Helikaon appeared very briefly to literally climb. And then there was the matter of Gershom’s story ended up being super bizarre and out of place. After finishing this and letting it sit for a few hours, I honestly don’t know what the purpose of his storyline was. Finally, I don’t think it was really necessary to have this series being a trilogy; two books should’ve been enough. I found that there were quite plenty of sections within the last two books that didn’t really add any value to the storyline.
“Hate is the father of all evil.”
Overall though, I very much enjoyed reading through this trilogy despite a few issues I had along the way. Although the Trojan War came from Greek Mythology, Gemmell turned the narrative completely to a historical fiction style; close to zero magic, no gods or demigods appearances. I know that I started reading Gemmell’s work from his final trilogy, and after enjoying this one, I won’t dispute the possibility that I will backtrack through his work and start from the beginning, Legend. Fall of Kings was an incredible read, it’s Gemmell’s final work and it’s a great one. I highly recommend this trilogy to any fans of historical fiction and Greek Mythology.
Troy: 12.5/15 stars
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