Title / Daughter of the Empire
Author / Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts
Publication Date / 1987 (first published)
Page no. / 528
Overall Star Rating / ★★★★
Goodreads synopsis: Enter the mysterious and exotic world of Kelewan…
Mara, the youngest child of the ancient and noble Acoma family, is about to take her pledge of servitude to the goddess Lashima when the ceremony is disrupted by news of her father and brother’s death in battle. Despite her grief, as the only surviving member of her house, Mara must now take up the mantles of Ruling Lady. But she soon discovers betrayal at the heart of her family’s loss, and the Acoma’s enemies have brought her house to the brink of utter destruction. Mara, an inexperienced political player, must draw on all her wit, intelligence and cunning to navigate the ruthless Game of the Council, regain the honour of House Acoma and secure the future of her family. But with assassins waiting around every corner, it might take everything Mara has simply to survive. Daughter of the Empire is the first in Feist and Wurts’ wonderful epic trilogy – one of the most successful fantasy collaborations of all time. The trilogy continues with the second book, Servant of the Empire
I picked this up after searching for some Asian inspired (specifically East Asian) fantasy and this series came up. I didn’t know much about it and had never heard to talked about in the bookish community but I thought I’ d try it out. I am so glad I did as I ended up really enjoying this one. First off the world, this is set in a Japanese style world called Kelawen. The world is one of the main strengths of this book, in my opinion but in many ways it is also a weakness. It is such an interesting world and it has so much potential that wasn’t fully realised. I found it to be quite insular because it focuses very much on the immediate world around Mara, but I would have preferred a broader insight into the world as a whole. It could have used a little more depth (by that I mean I wanted more information) at times – for example a new species is introduced early on and are very important for about a chapter but then we don’t hear from them at all. As I’ve already mentioned, I wanted to know more of the world as a whole, not just the world Mara experiences. Perhaps we will get this in the later books… I hope we do. I think this world is also linked to some of Feist’s of works so maybe there is more information in those… I don’t know for sure on that though. This book would be a good one to read if you like fantasy with little magic in, as it has very little magic in.
I think the characters are all fantastically written. Mara is a great female protagonist, although I think she did suffer a little with the perfect main character trope thing. What I mean is that she seems immediately able to deal with the politics and know what to do – yes she does have some doubt but she slips quick easily into the world it seems. I wanted her to seem more vulnerable and unsure of herself, then again she has grow up in this world and presumably knows what to expect. There were only a few moments of doubt and she’s only supposed to be 17 but I think she felt older to me. Having said all that, I really liked her as the female protagonist. There are many other interesting characters around her too and they are all well written. The only one I felt a bit unsure of was Bunto as I thought his character was inconsistent at times – also he’s just not very nice most of the time. Although there are quite a few characters, it was pretty easy to keep track of them all. In terms of the plot, I think it progresses very well. I’ve seen this described as political fantasy and I would definitely agree with that – it is heavy with politics and intrigue. This means this is quite a slow fantasy books, because it focuses more on the characters and their standing in society, instead of having many action scenes. Personally I really enjoyed this but if you are looking for an action packed fantasy book than this one isn’t for you. There are definitely a few plot holes in this book but I’m not going to go into too much detail with them because… spoilers. There were just a few things that I questioned a little bit but I found that I could look past these and so it didn’t affect my overall reading experience/enjoyment of the book. At times things also seemed to happen a little too neatly, if that makes sense. The thing to note is that if you are not interested in behaviour and manners (from an Asian inspired culture), than this is again probably not for you. There is a lot of writing about the way someone should be referred to, or the hierarchy, or filial piety, or even how low to bow to certain people etc. This all makes up an important part of the culture within the book and so is heavily mentioned – personally I liked this but I don’t think everyone will.
Overall I thought this was a fantastic introduction to this new series. If you enjoy politics and intrigue, and Asian inspired fantasy, then you should definitely check this book out. It was seriously really good – OK so it wasn’t perfect but I still really enjoyed it. I will definitely be picking up the next book as soon as possible. Maybe I need to read the other Feist books to get a better understanding of the world… if any of you know please let me know :). Have you guys read this book? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.