Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts | Book Review
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Within the courts, Ruling Lords play the game of the council. Behind the guise of honor, they plot and scheme, choosing which families to eradicate to rise in power. One such plot took the life of Mara’s father, brother, and most of her family’s soldiers. In one fell stroke, her family’s greatest rival left her Ruling Lady, thinking she would be easy to conquer. But Mara will not bow before her rivals, nor will she allow her family name to be erased. With the few loyal members of her household left, she will play the game of the council, and she refuses to lose.
Politics are a heavy theme in this novel. Just about every page is filled with political maneuvers and Mara’s deft ways of dealing with the challenges placed against her. But I give props to the writing style for developing these politics in a way that kept my attention. Mara is extremely clever and plays the long game. She’s not afraid to think outside of the box and play around with the rules. She never breaks them but pushes against the norms to attain greater outcomes. Despite everything revolving around the game of the council, the authors were able to keep me engaged by creating a balance of tension and action within the politics.
However, the pacing of this novel was a bit off. The plot constantly moved forward from one new drama to the next, barely giving pause between each new confrontation. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, but there were moments I had to take breaks from reading. The increasing amount of drama created a sort of fatigue for me, where I needed to divert to lighter reads before diving back into Daughter of the Empire. While I enjoy fast-paced books, the conflicts that arise in this novel are full of so many different angles and possibilities that it became a bit too much for my mind.
Daughter of the Empire does have a dated writing style, but it is still a great read! Just approach it knowing there will be concepts and ideas common in the 80s that may not be as well received in the modern age of reading. One of the main focal points of this novel is every Ruling Lord’s misconception that females cannot successfully rule. To the men of this world, women are to be in charge of the household and raising children. But keep in mind, Mara strives to prove them wrong by outwitting any man who dares to underestimate her. And she uses their assumptions to her advantage, twisting everything she can back on her foes and hitting them where it hurts.
If you're the type of reader who thrives off of reading politics, Daughter of the Empire is surely the book for you. While it is labeled as a sci-fi/fantasy novel, much of the story is driven by the characters and their conceptions of honor and loyalty. There is little magic and a brief mention of an alien race. This is a book you read for the ongoing struggle between ruling houses and to watch the underdog fight for their rightful place.
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