- Title: Daughter of the Empire
- Author: Raymond E. Feist, Janny Wurts
- Series: The Empire Trilogy, #1
- Genre: Fantasy
- Format: Paperback
- Source: Own Copy
- Reviewed by: Sonja
- Rating: 5 out of 5
Description: Magic and murder engulf the realm of Kelewan. Fierce warlords ignite a bitter blood feud to enslave the empire of Tsuranuanni. While in the opulent Imperial courts, assassins and spy-master plot cunning and devious intrigues against the rightful heir. Now Mara, a young, untested Ruling lady, is called upon to lead her people in a heroic struggle for survival. But first she must rally an army of rebel warriors, form a pact with the alien cho-ja, and marry the son of a hated enemy. Only then can Mara face her most dangerous foe of all–in his own impregnable stronghold. An epic tale of adventure and intrigue. Daughter of the Empire is fantasy of the highest order by two of the most talented writers in the field today
Review: This was a re-read for me with the Fantasy Aficionados group at Goodreads. The first time I read this book, I read it immediately after I read the Riftwar Saga. The group did this read with one of the authors, Janny Wurts. (If you ever have the chance, it is amazing to take part in a group read with her. She has so much insight to offer.) Janny, and others, assured us that it was not necessary to read the Riftwar series before this one as they happen concurrently rather than successively. While I have no reason to doubt the validity of this, I still found it awkward. I think it was the order OCD or something coming out in me . . . but I really felt as though I jumped off into the middle.
The first time I read this, almost 20 years ago, I absolutely loved it and read through the entire trilogy in a matter of days. While I still enjoyed it, (and, I always have trouble with re-reads), I found myself slightly irritated with the world that is presented. I wondered why I was rooting for the Acoma rather than the Minwanabi? Was it just because Mara had been left orphaned? The thing is, the Minwanabi did nothing more, nor less, than (as is obvious as the story unfolds) the Acoma would have done. Neither family is striving to improve their world. Conversely, their existence, likewise, does not hinder their world. They just exist in the rules with which the world is defined. In other words, we do not root for Mara because she is good, not do we root against the Minwanabi because they are evil. We root for Mara because she is whom the book is about and against the Minwanabi solely because she does. It makes me very sad to wish for the destruction of someone for no other reason than he/she is my enemy. (Of course, if someone is my enemy, they are by very definition evil. Right?)
So, in the end, this story is one about political intrigue. This would not have bothered me if the battles in this environment were won in any fashion other than the death (usually by his own sword) of the one who loses. All this being said, the story is very well written, the characters well drawn and I enjoyed the ride. It is only in retrospect that I took issue with the good vs. the other good. And, in fairness, you do not reach the end of the story in this book – it is a trilogy. Mara does not seem content to let the rules, as tradition exists, dictate the way in which her family estate is run. She seems willing to realize that the way things are done wastes people and instincts. So, to me, the purpose of the story is the absolute pointlessness of the tradition as it currently stands. But, beyond clues dropped here and there, this is not evident in this portion of the story. The first time I read the book, I did not stop until I finished the trilogy. Which is probably why I seemed to have enjoyed it more the first time.
The world is very well created. I could easily visualize it and its inhabitants. As ridiculous as I found the traditions, the world stayed true to the rules established. The writing is beautiful and poetic and lyrical. (Does that sound fancy enough?) The characters, from the slaves carrying Mara’s litter to Mara herself, are brilliantly created and drawn.
I am leaving this one at 5 stars. I do feel that, to truly appreciate it, one must complete the trilogy and not stop here.