I am very pleased to be on the book tour today for Empire’s Daughter, the first in the Empire’s Legacy series, by Marian L Thorpe. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for including me, and for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed as a reader, honestly, individually and impartially. Also, don’t forget to enter the exciting bookish giveaway at the end!
For twenty generations, the men and women of The Empire have lived separately, the women farming and fishing, the men fighting wars. But in the spring of Lena’s seventeenth year, an officer rides into her village with an unprecedented request. The Empire is threatened by invasion, and to defend it successfully, women will need to fight.
When the village votes in favour, Lena and her partner Maya are torn apart. Maya chooses exile rather than battle, Lena chooses to fight. As Lena learns the skills of warfare and leadership, she discovers that choices have consequences that cannot be foreseen, and that her role in her country’s future is greater than she could have dreamed.
This novel has a great premise, and really appealed to the lover of Roman and medieval history in me. It diverges slightly and intentionally to make the story work, but this neither matters nor disappoints.
The story begins in a village called Tirvan which is entirely comprised of women, who undertake all the work to supply the Empire, and are visited by men, twice a year only, at Festival. This is a time where willing women of age can form brief relationships in order to bear children. This system is known as Partition and is governed by an agreement made between men and women, some years hence. They undertake the work of the Empire, to support the ongoing military campaigns. At seven years old, male children are permanently removed from their families for army training.
Most women are for the remainder of the time, in same sex relationships. Seventeen-year-old Lena is partnered with Maya, and together they skipper a fishing vessel. Her mother is one of the village leaders, and the local political system is participative. Lives are peaceful and ordered, until the arrival of a male emissary, Casyn, who has been sent from the Emperor to warn them that there is going to be an invasion from the island of Leste. He tells the village women that their coastline is going to be one of the landing points, and they must be taught and organised to fight. Lena secretly relishes the excitement of this, but Maya is angry.
I don’t want to spoil the story from there, as Empire’s daughter is a book well worth reading for yourself. I would class it as YA historical fantasy, as the story centres around young people, but as a 41-year-old, I enjoyed it too! There are some great themes around history, gender, politics, relationships, family, love, loss and adventure. The world building is rich and well thought through.
The women all appear literate and have always had a key role in making decisions in society, down to the arrangement of Partition years ago and the level of female empowerment was not as I expected, and great to read about.
Lena has a range of emotions and convictions that I simply did not have at seventeen. In the context of the time though, when boys were sent into military training at seven, it seems appropriate that Lena behaves more like someone in their mid-twenties at such a young age in this novel. I lost track of the characters quite often, as there are many, and I had to refer to the character page at the beginning a fair bit to refamiliarise myself. The author clearly preempted readers like me! I was well invested in the storyline of the main characters though. I didn’t envy Lena for the choices she had to make, but I enjoyed the plot very much.
Those who enjoy strong female characters, keen world-building and the history of civilisations and how they evolve will, I think, really enjoy Empire’s Daughter. I am looking forward to reading the next instalment.
About the author: Marian L Thorpe
Writer of historical fantasy and urban fantasy for adults. The Empire’s Legacy series explores gender expectations, the conflicts between personal belief and societal norms, and how, within a society where sexuality is fluid, personal definitions of love and loyalty change with growth and experience.
The world of Empire’s Legacy was inspired by my interest in the history of Britain in the years when it was a province of the Roman Empire called Britannia, and then in the aftermath of the fall of the Roman Empire. In another life, I would have been a landscape archaeologist, and landscape is an important metaphor in the Empire’s Legacy trilogy and in all my writing, fiction and non-fiction.
I live in Canada for most of the year, England for the rest, have one cat, a husband, and when I’m not writing or editing, I’m birding.
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Giveaway to Win all 3 paperbacks of the Empire’s Legacy trilogy (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
As usual, of course, this is a blog tour and there are many other insights into Empire’s Daughter, the series and the author. Please do check them out!