And yet this is deeply their story, so much so that it hurts to think about it. Shield of Thunder could have easily been named Everyone Dies in the Arms of Their Loved Ones, and David Gemmell died before this was published. His wife Stella finished the last book, Fall of Kings, using his notes, and in the last chapter, when Andromache lights her husband's pyre, it is clear that this was not just the story of Greek heros and heroines, but the authors' story as well.
As I got toward the end, I was reading slower and slower. It was hard to finish this series because it dawned on me that I knew what would happen to Troy -- everyone does -- and that these characters were all going to die. It made me ridiculously greatful for the characters who did survive despite how ridiculous the set-up was. (Friends who became enemies became friends again; against improbable odds, Helikaion and Andromache are reunited with his two sons; his sons are set up as the models for Romulus and Remus; oh and there was more.) We are all heros and heroines in our own stories, and part of that mythology lives forever, and yet all of us die: it is so powerful a theme, and all the more so because the authors were living (and dying) in its unfurling.
Lessons for writing seem so trite after so powerful a tale. Let your characters tell The Story...not a story.
And Stella Gemmell is still writing. Her "first" book is here.