Neil McGarry's Reviews > Daughter of the Empire

Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist
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May 22, 2012

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Read in January, 1990

** spoiler alert ** I am a sucker for the unlikely authority figure story, so naturally Daughter of the Empire caught my attention straightaway. Overall, I found this an entertaining read, although not without its flaws. Thus...

THE GOOD: Kelewan is an interesting world, and a refreshing change from the bog-standard European-based fantasy setting. The cultural emphasis on honor and duty are used mostly effectively to create interesting conflicts and, in one case, an excruciating "solution" to a problem.

I'm also a big fan of the estate-management portion of the story, something you don't often see in fantasy. Normally lords and ladies are presented with challenges that must be solved with the sword, and I enjoyed watching Mara delve into the intricacies of diplomacy and finance.

THE BAD: I find it odd that there were only three living members of House Acoma when most of the other Houses are teeming with sons, daughters, nephews/nieces and cousins of every description. It would have been interesting for Mara to have to contend with machinations and power-plays of Cousin This One and Uncle That One as she struggles to master her own inheritance.

In addition, the perilously weak state of the Acoma army at the novel's opening is curious, given what are later told about the House's military strength. Before his fall, Mara's father employed 2500 soldiers, but at the time of Mara's arrival at the estate, she has only 37. Given the perpetual Acoma-Minwanabi enmity, why would Lord Sezu leave his estate so undermanned?

Mara's husband, Buntokapi, is presented as a cunning brute, almost entirely bereft of any redeeming qualities except his ability to sire children. Yes, he gets a bit more depth later on...three pages before he dies. The authors would have done better to flesh him out earlier, so we the readers would be conflicted about the morality and necessity of the lethal trap Mara engineers for him.

In summary, I think The Daughter of the Empire is a solid foundation for a good story; it's too bad authors Feist and Wurts didn't build higher and more ambitiously.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Pauline Ross Neil, I read this recently and had much the same problems with it (and a few more besides). Great idea badly executed, I think. Now I'm not sure whether it's worth risking any more Feist or Wurts...

message 2: by Neil (last edited May 23, 2012 11:22AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil McGarry I'd love to say, "Sure, the series gets better", but in point of fact it just doesn't. I did not care for the direction in which Mara's character goes, nor did I find the "westerner brings fresh perspective to eastern lands" thing Wurts and Feist introduced. I think you're good right where you are. :-)

I haven't read Feist's "The Riftwar Saga" since I was a teenager, and I hesitate to recommend as a 42-year-old man what I haven't looked at since I was a 20-year-old boy.

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