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review 2014-12-26 07:19
"Daughter of the Empire" by Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts
Daughter of the Empire - Raymond E. Feist;Janny Wurts

"The mysterious world of Kelewan is encircled by magic, mystery and murder. Here at the heart of the Tsurani empire, Mare, Ruling Lady of the Acoma, leads her people through terror and peril on a truly epic scale. She must contend wth powerful rival houses, strike deals with sinister rebel warriors, and forge a treaty with the enigmatic Cho-ja - a race of alien insectoids. But in order to restore the honour of her house, Mare must marry the son of a deadly enemy - and carry the struggle of her people into the heart of his stronghold..."

 

 

A slow steady read. If anyone has read Raymond Feist's books before, you would know that his books are reasonably fast paced and with the right amount of detail. This book is pretty much the opposite. That may be because of Janny Wurts... But personally I don't mind! It was a little slow and there was too much information or too much meaningless information but it was still enjoyable to read. I like the fact that the main character - Mara - a very young woman is thrown into a chaos! She is the daughter of a Lord and has an elder brother, therefore all the teachings of how to be a Ruling Leader were taught to her brother and not her. So when she is unexpectedly the Ruling Lady of Acoma at the age of 16, I think t's fair to say that she had no idea what she was doing or what to do!

 

But she learnt very quickly, and acts quite smart. She kind of twists people's thoughts, and is able to manipulate people into doing what she wants when needed. Very clever. What's more, she thinks outside the box, while staying with in honour and the rules (The Tsurani value honour nearly more than anything else). She achieve's so much in such a small amount of time and gains honour from many other houses, and gaining the respect of very important people. I've often read that Raymond Feist.. Exploits women in his books... But this.. This is great. Mara is character worth admiring. Whether or not Janny Wurts input in the novel series has anything to do with it, I'm not sure. But they have done a great job with creating a remarkable character.

 

It's a good story and one that is continued through another two books. I look forward to reading the rest of the series! 

 

If you've read any of Raymond's series (preferably the Riftwar Saga) than I definitely recommend this book. 

 

And if you haven't read any of Raymond Feist's books than I highly suggest that you start with the Riftwar Saga! They are beyond amazing! 

THE RIFTWAR SAGA:

Magician 

Silverthorn

A Darkness at Sethanon

 

 

 

  

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-08-08 08:16
REVIEW: Daughter of the Empire (The Empire Trilogy) by Raymond E. Feist, Janny Wurts
The Complete Empire Trilogy: Daughter of the Empire, Mistress of the Empire, Servant of the Empire - Raymond E. Feist,Janny Wurts

This review does not contain spoiler tags.

 

This book sprung a nasty surprise on me before I even reached the first page. I didn't know Janny Wurts (of War of Light and Shadow infamy) was a co-author on this series. It was enough to get me to hesitate reading it. Yet eventually I relented. It was a co-authorship after all, so maybe the thing balances out to the positive side.

 

How wrong I was.

 

The book covers the story of Mara, who finds herself suddenly thrust into ruling her noble house as her father and brother are betrayed. So far so good, but then the problems begin.

 

First is the prose. Now this, I'll admit, is a personal thing. I don't care for overwrought descriptions of things that do not warrant it and this story is a prime example of that. Descriptions of food and clothing are everywhere, even when there is no specific point to mentioning those. The only good thing about them is that they come in blurbs, which allowed me to easily skim over them. Overall, though it's readable. I wouldn't have managed to finish the book otherwise.

 

The plot is worse. The entire book is a string of distinct set pieces where a single problem is presented and then resolved. For a story that is supposed to be about intrigue this is rather conveniently compartmentalized. And that adverb I just mentioned there is basically my summary of the entire plot.

 

It's all so convenient.

 

Mara starts out with her House forces diminished from a few thousand to around fifty. This is a huge problem, but then news arrives that their herds were raided by gray warriors, which are soldiers who became houseless for one reason or another. Of course she recruits these and thus immediate problem solved.

 

Next up is the lost Spymaster from another fallen house, who hid among these gray warriors. It just so happens he still has a huge information network available and he only needs a year to recover it.

 

Yet just before he leaves he tells of a new hive queen who can be bargained with so that Mara gains a bunch of man-sized insect warriors for herself. I don't even recall what they were called, as after their recruitment they aren't mentioned again save for a few throw away lines that they're still there (I suppose these return in the next books).

 

Then there is the part where a dove lands nearby, plucks out its own feathers, runs through a batch of spices and then cooks itself into a nearby bonfire before flying into Mara's mouth....

 

Okay, that didn't happen. But I was half expecting it by now.

 

My point is; the book tries real hard to make Mara appear as a shrewd player of the intrigue while in fact, all she does is waiting for either aid to fall into her lap or for her enemies to hoist themselves on their own petard. And yes, the petards are dangling in very convenient spots as you might expect.

 

The real kicker is the final part of the novel where she faces off against the main bad guy. Apart from the fact that she walks right into his hands for no reason beyond 'honor demands it' (you have a blood feud with these people, I'm pretty certain that gives you leeway in refusing their invitations to get murdered) the resolution that determines her fate hinges on who's telling the truth after a violent altercation. With two witnesses with contradicting stories things don't look too good, but lo and behold. There just so happen to be two mages present (only mentioned once before in the entire book) and they just happen to have a spell that allows one to replay the past in crystal clear HD for everyone.

 

How convenient.

 

Final verdict:

Don't read unless you don't care about plot at all. Needless to say, I won't be bothering with the next one in this series.

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review 2014-06-21 00:00
Daughter of the Empire
Daughter of the Empire - Raymond E. Feist This book was intelligently written and mostly revolved around politics and honor. I was proud of how well I followed The Game of the Council. I am not the strongest at following politics, but I found that I understood the implications of various actions and events in this story.

I was deeply disappointed in the minimal amount of magic in this book. Magic is one of the main reasons I love fantasy so much. The setting was somewhat similar to the orient, and the environment was manly a dusty desert. This was neither a negative nor a positive for me.

Mara is an extraordinarily brilliant young woman who's father and older brother just died leaving her the ruler of her lands. She never formally received any political training from her father because she was not the heir, so when she is thrust into this role, she has to learn as she goes. She also pushes tradition to it's edges so that her people can survive.

I did struggle with all of the names. It is typical for fantasies to have unique names, but I didn't like any of the names in this book. These weren't just the names of people and places either. It was of clothing, food, plants, and animals. It was just a little too much in my opinion.

There are some other great characters in this story as well. Nacoya, Keyoke, and Papewaio (my favorite) just to name a few. These were the main advisers for Mara and they each stood out to me for their differing personalities. I admired how the authors could manage that with all of the other complexities in this book.

What makes this book different from all others?
I think Mara's strength of mind and spirit was definitely unique. I've read about quite a few strong women, but Mara's situation was much more difficult. The whole culture of honor in this book was very unique. I found myself very interested in understanding its rules and reasoning. For example, for the people in this book, suicide by blade is considered an honorable death and hanging is considered to be a slave's death or very dishonorable.

I will continue this series. Mara is so cunning I can't wait to see what she does next. I hope that magic plays a larger role in the future books though, and I hope that Mara can open herself to find love.
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review 2013-07-27 00:00
Daughter of the Empire - 'Raymond E. Feist', 'Janny Wurts' Collaborations can be a challenging way to tell a story, especially when both authors have an established voice. Ultimately, if done well, they are like an interesting ice cream swirl, something of the flavor of both authors creating a pleasant compination. Andre Norton is one of those authors that seem to collaborate well, although I'm not sure if that's partly because she was the idea generator and then had a co-writer do more of the heavy lifting, especially in her later years. One of the best examples of co-writing I remember is [b:Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot|64207|Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Cecelia and Kate, #1)|Patricia C. Wrede|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1328875743s/64207.jpg|505], largely because it used letters between two young girls as the primary framing device, allowing the voices of both authors to shine. Daughter of the Empire was the result of a collaboration between Janny Wurts and Raymond Feist, and though I haven't read any Feist, I have to say it blends well, and Feist's influence tempered Wurt's writing and made it infinitely more palatable.I've avoided writing about Wurt's books since meeting her in one of my GR groups, as she is a truly wonderful, generous and respectful person. Her contributions to different book discussions are thoughtful and circumspect, and she's willing to share her time if readers are interested. The information she shared about the collaboration was interesting, and gave a great deal of insight into the process. If you've read this book or are a fan of Wurts, I highly recommend checking out her comments.To the book itself: it is a detailed epic fantasy, and would likely appeal to those who are looking for something in the genre that is more female-centered than most. It follows young Mara as she is pulled from a life of religious devotion and into the political games of the local fiefdoms, to both survive and to defend the honor of her house.A note on style: Wurts' writing usually has too many superlatives for my taste, and she ends up resorting to italics in order to make her points in the more emotional sections. It must be Feist's or the editor's influence, because for one of the first times reading her books, I found myself able to concentrate on the story and characterization without being distracted by the writing. In this sense, the book worked for me.Plotting is acceptable. However, Mara develops the habit of keeping her plans to herself, since she doesn't want to argue with her former nursemaid or her man-at-arms. This both aids and detracts the story; aiding because it keeps the reader in suspense about what she will do, but detracting because it means her actions are often not quite comprehensible to the reader. If she explains it over-much to her people. the story risks losing its sense of legitimate dialogue; if it isn't explained, readers are left with a culture and heroine that is just slightly incomprehensible. Thus, after I finished reading, I wasn't sure if I disliked Mara because of a lack of understanding, or because I disliked her because she was a truly dislikeable person. It reminds me, just a little, of the issues I faced in [a:Joe Abercrombie|276660|Joe Abercrombie|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1207149426p2/276660.jpg]'s First Law series, only he was able to build a sense of complexity that lent itself to compassion. Mara just seems largely incomprehensible, except for the single-minded goal of avenging her family, a fact itself that seems inconsistent with a woman who had left her family for a religious life some time ago.The only spot that the collaboration seemed not to have worked quite as well was the introduction of the cho-ja, the insect-like sentient beings. They played an enormous role in one chapter, and despite "Gaining this new hive would do more to preserve Acoma survival than any dozen clever plots on the High Council," they are only mentioned twice more in the rest of the book. It felt a little intrusive, and when I understood they were of Feist's creation for another aspect of the world, it made more sense. Less for the story, but more sense for the collaboration.One of my largest barriers to enjoyment was Mara's marriage and the subsequent abuse she endured. The cynical part of me wonders if Feist wanted Wurts involved for that perspective alone, and to help legitimize a storyline that was extremely unpalatable. Regardless, my personal issues with that type of plotline are such that I will almost never like a book that involves that kind of abuse, unless done very, very, well. This was not, as it seemed mostly designed to create sympathy for Mara and how her husband was destroying her heritage--sort of. I actually ended up wondering how calculating she really was from the start, which made me like her less. It seemed clear that her intent was all along to kill her husband; to be fair, it seemed none of the choices would have been willing co-rulers, but I'm not sure she ever genuinely tried.I have other small quibbles that I won't go into, save to note they were there. Ultimately, though I read fantasy, this was not my type of sub-genre, so my thoughts are not predisposed to be generous. Two and a half stars.
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review 2013-06-27 00:00
Daughter of the Empire (Kelewan Empire Series #1)
Daughter of the Empire - 'Raymond E. Feist', 'Janny Wurts'

Hmmm. So this is a bit of a classic, but I've never read it before.

 

So I'm not really coloured by a bunch of fond memories, and I think I would have liked this book a lot more as a teenager.

 

For: A smart and capable female protagonist to add to my pile of books for the kids to read. Albeit one not above using sex to get her way. In fact, quite ruthlessly. She's smart and kind to the downtrodden, the poor and the disenfranchised, ensuring their loyalty, but she's calculating and cruel to her peers. Actually that may be an against. She's smart enough to use and trust her employees and advisors to their best capability, something that is the downfall of so so many characters, in so so many books.

 

Against: Really just one thing: She's so damn lucky. It's deus ex fluke after fluke. She ought to take up poker or something. Every bluff works, every feint, every huge gamble with her life and that of her entire clan, pays off. Each one in turn is well written, and fun, but in total it's a little overwhelming just how damn lucky Mara is.

 

So, a 3.5, if there were half stars, but down a little, because the luck factor doesn't work right for me. It's still a ripping good read, and I can be a little harsh on my scores, and it's a really good example of co-writing at it's best, the writing is seamless and the voice is united, there's no sign who wrote what and no jarring transitions between authors. So take the 3 as what it says: I liked it.

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