At age 17, Mara's ceremonial pledge of servantship to the goddess Lashima is interrupted by the news that her father and brother have been killed in battle on Trigia, the world through the rift. Now Ruling Lady of the Acoma, Mara finds that not only are her family's ancient enemies, the Minwanabi, responsible for the deaths of her loved ones, but her military forces have been decimated by the betrayal and House Acoma is now vulnerable to complete destruction.
When two great authors get together you’re likely to get something special. Right? No, not really. In fact, if we’re being honest with ourselves, more often than not instead of combining the best of both authors, collaboration will more often than not combine the worst of both authors.
Thankfully for Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts, it appears that Feist has no real discernable flaws, thus minimizing the damage to the book and leaving it all in Wurts’ corner.
It might seem overly harsh, but I want to make something very clear; I loved this book. I thought it was really clever, a great idea, and mostly well executed. The fact that the story is based in Feist’s world and focuses on a culture that he created, left very little for Wurts to get her hands on and affect. The problems therefore come not from the originating aspects of the book but the way in which it was written.
In short, a little too Wurtsian (and a surprising amount of grammatical and spelling mistakes).
Feist has created for us a world which is very similar to our own (or at least, to the Japanese/Honour culture of the Asia’s). It is a little frustrating to see so clearly that culture mirrored in this book with very little manipulation. In fact, there could easily be a case made for this not being a fantasy book at all, but rather an alternative-historical account.
But the two writers have managed to nevertheless create a story that had me flipping through pages like a book in a storm. Mara’s life, the plans she concocts and the trauma she must endure for the sake of her family name are captivating, and really endear the character to you despite some of the atrocities she commits.
The death of a friend and loyal servant leaves you feeling ill disposed towards those you should be feeling ill disposed towards, and you are definitely not-secretly cheering Mara on.
In hindsight, much of what Mara “plans” is based upon happenstance and unforeseeable events that the authors attempt to make the readers believe are foreseeable. However, as with a lot of the flaws I have mentioned, it simply doesn’t affect the reading of the story. It’s far too enjoyable, and any return to Feist’s world is worth a little trouble.
If you’re reading the Magician series by Feist, then this book (and hopefully the following two books of the Empire trilogy) is worth your while. If you’ve not read Magician, then go do so, and then you’ll want to read this book.
Review by Joshua S Hill
Daughter of the Empire
The Empire Series: Book 1
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