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Stella and David Gemmell defy death

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal had a piece on David Gemmell, which covers ground we've seen elsewhere, and some new ground. The article by John J. Miller is worth reading in its entirety. We've added some thoughts.

A former newspaper woman who helped her husband research his books, Stella Gemmell had never written much more than a magazine article when her husband, author David Gemmell, died in 2006 of a stroke, leaving Troy: Fall of Kings half finished.

Thirty years earlier David Gemmell had written Legend when he thought he was dying of cancer. He did not die, and it became a best-selling fantasy book. Legend is the story of a siege resisted against overwhelming odds “by an aging warrior with a bum knee”. “Societies need heroes,” Gemmel believed. Since western societies are obsessed with destroying their historic heroes, “we travel to places where the revisionists cannot dismantle the great.”

As a child Gemmel found inspiration in Tolkien’s Hobbit and in his stepfather, who taught him how to defend himself against bullies. He called Bill Woodford and men like him "…the havens, the safe harbours of childhood. They are the watch hounds who keep the wolves at bay."

A former newspaper man, Gemmell wrote more than two dozen novels. According to the Journal article, along the way he inspired Conn Iggulden, the historical-fiction novelist who co-wrote The Dangerous Book for Boys. To Gemmel’s supreme satisfaction his heroes also inspired frightened people to act courageously in desperate moments.

Hours after David Gemmell died, Stella stared at his chapter outline, and decided to finish her husband’s last novel for him. She was daunted, but she carried on.

She met the deadline.Troy was released in the United Kingdom and America in 2007.

I have not seen any reviews of the book aside from bloggers. Gemmell’s work apparently falls into a genre adored by millions but rarely reviewed by the mainstream press.