Tribune Marcus Venandus and his two trusted officers have gone through hell in their journey north from the Fire Islands and across the Sea of Grass. Arriving at Amatista in the Jeweled Hills, Marcus is looking forward to a much deserved rest in the home of his half-brother, but fate has other plans for the legionnaire. Soon he will be wishing he’d never heard of his brother’s city. Surrounded by enemies and crippled by internal divisions, Amatista is already on its knees and ready to fall. Marcus must act decisively to save everything his brother has built, but without his beloved legions behind him, can Marcus and his friends survive their visit to the Jeweled Hills?
About the Author
Gilbert M. Stack has been creating stories almost since he began speaking and publishing fiction and non-fiction since 2006. A professional historian, Gilbert delights in bringing the past to life in his fiction, depicting characters who are both true to their time and empathetic with modern sensibilities. His work has appeared in more than a dozen issues of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Michelle, and their son, Michael.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Jeweled Hills is a fun, fast read and the action moves swiftly making it hard to put down. The book picks up where The Sea of Grass left off and Marcus Venandus has finally made it to Amatista, the city of his half-brother Juan Pablo, only to find that he’s been assassinated by unnamed rivals. Now Marcus’s life is about to get a lot more complicated, especially after inheriting Juan Pablo’s household which comes with three wives and a mother-in-law. Marcus must navigate the treacherous waters of Amatista with its competing cultures, each of which sees itself as superior to the others. Marcus must get these groups to work together if they want to survive the slow strangulation of their city's economy and the coming invasion by other city states jealous of Amatista’s silk trade. The Jeweled Hills is a combination of Marco Polo, the Mongol hordes, the Barbary Pirates, the Spanish Dons the early 1800s California, the Chin Empire of China and the Roman legions, all of them vying for dominance, sometimes working together, sometimes fighting each other, and some of them have competing factions within their own groups. It’s very interesting how Gilbert Stack has set this mix of vastly different cultures up against each and I’m looking forward to see how the story plays out over the next installments.
This is one of those rare series where you get high expectations, then they go even higher, and still the author meets them. I thought I knew what I was in for after enjoying the first two books of this saga (and that's what it is, make no mistake, Gil Stack has an epic tale in mind and simply finds excellent places to divide it up). But I was unprepared for the next gear he threw it into with this third installment. The parade of interesting cultures and customs continues, but this time Marcus, the hero of war, must conquer- gulp- the ignoble life of the merchant, which goes clean contrary to his desires. Not only that but he has three new wives to negotiate! Plunged into a world he could never have anticipated, surrounded by pressures at every turn, encountering assassins' assaults, debtor's demands and political pressures alike, yet still our resourceful protagonist finds time to... yes, of course... hit the shops for gifts! This time around, the battle comes as a relief. This is an absolutely splendid new series, fabulous characters, terrific action, deft writing. What more do you need? What in all the hills of Aquila are you waiting for!