Title/ Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire and Mistress of the Empire
Author/ Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts
Publication date/ 1987, 1990 and 1992
Series or standalone/ Trilogy
This is a collaborative political fantasy trilogy by the American writers Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts. It is also a part of the larger Riftwar series by Feist, although you don’t have to read those books in order to read this trilogy. It begins with Daughter of the Empire; the main character is Mara who is just about to enter into temple service but is called back to her home after the death of her father and her brother to become Lady of Acoma. A power struggle ensues. I won’t go into the plot too much more as I don’t want to spoil it.
The world of Kelewan is one of my favourite things about this trilogy. It is quite reminiscent of medieval Asia with a heavy emphasis on the class system and remaining honourable. In this world there is very clear protocol of how to interact with people of power, which I found to be very interesting. I will say that the constant reminders of these protocols may be a bit grating for some, as we are still being told of etiquette well into the third and final book. Personally I had no issues with this but it may be something to be aware of. Throughout the three books I thought the details of the politics and class system were very well done. I personally love political fantasy so I very much enjoyed this aspect of it and felt completely immersed in it. However there are times throughout where I wanted more depth and information about the world itself, specifically about the cho-ja and the geography of the world, but overall the world building is great. The focus is very much the immediate surroundings of the main character, as well as the politics of the world, instead of a wider look at the world itself. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I personally wanted to know a bit more about Kelewan. I think this is a very interesting world which really develops throughout the three books. It is definitely a new favourite of mine.
Moving on to the plot, I will say that if you are looking for a fast-paced, action packed fantasy trilogy then this is not the one for you. This is quite a slow moving story with the occasional skips in time. Due to these skips in time we get to witness a large span of the characters’ lives, which means that we really get to see them change and develop. Despite the slow burn of the plot it was never boring and I never found that it dragged, although I think this may be an issue for some people. There is always a goal in mind or a problem to solve. The writing also does a great job at keeping you engaged even in the slower sections. I always wanted to read more because I wanted to know what was going to happen next, which is a good sign that the plot is engaging. I will say that things are perhaps a little too neatly solved at the end but it is only a minor complaint; I actually really enjoyed the ending. As previously mentioned this story focuses on court intrigue and the politics of the world, so if that is not your thing then I would avoid this trilogy.
In terms of the characters, we have a fantastic cast within this trilogy. From the book 1 I found Mara to be a very interesting character and a great female protagonist. I briefly mentioned earlier that we get to see years of the characters’ lives and I really love that about this trilogy. It creates fantastic character development and allows the reader to perhaps have a clearer understanding of the characters. Mara’s development throughout is so well done. We get to see the many sides of her, from her calculating side to her kind nature, and we get to witness her style of leadership. Even when she comes across as cold, we understand that she is the product of the society she was raised in, we still root for her. My one small complaint is Mara’s seemingly easy entry to the life of a ruling lady. She is 17 when she is brought back to become Lady of Acoma and although she has grown up in this world as a girl she would not have been in the line of succession, so how did she become so adept at politics? Perhaps it just comes naturally to her and she just understands the world she lives in but it just seems a little unrealistic when she first ascended to power. The other characters we meet throughout the three books are just as well written as the protagonist. Two of my favourites are Arakasi and Lujan. If you like well written characters in your fantasy books then you will find plenty in this trilogy.
Overall I think this is a fantastic trilogy with well written characters, an engaging plot and an interesting world. I knew very little when I started this trilogy but I’m very glad I tried it out as it is a new favourite of mine. If you enjoy political fantasy with slow burning plots then I would highly recommend checking this trilogy out. I am definitely planning to try out more from these authors after loving these books. Have you read these books? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.