With Servant of the Empire fantasy author Janny Wurts successfully continues her magnificent Kelewan series. Lady Mara of the Acoma not only has succeeded to strengthen her terribly weakened house, but also has managed to strike a severe blow to the House of Minwanabi, her blood-sworn arch-enemies. But the forthcoming events don't give much room to relax, as her enemies rally under a much more deadly leader and occurrences of a much wider scale threaten to upset the very foundations of Tsurani society. But again Mara finds yet another unexpected source of help.
Enter Kevin, a captive from Midkemia, the world beyond the Rift. A battle-proven veteran, smart, witty and not willing to accept his place as a will-less slave in a society that is solidified in its own rigid traditions and castes. He wins the heart of Mara (admittedly not that unexpected, but that's okay) and earns the legitimate respect of Mara's most trusted intimates and officers. But most important, he lends Mara new insights to her own society, one of these being an awakened awareness that it's the deeds that define a man's worth and not his social standing.
One may argue now, that constellations like a slave winning his mistress' (or her master's) heart while changing her (his) view to things around her (him) are nothing new, but the way Janny Wurts exploits this setup for the trilogy's overall development is brilliant. One reason is, that in contrary to the first book, where Mara was the absolute main protagonist, she now has to share sympathies with Kevin. The recurring changes between both characters' viewpoints paint a whole new picture of the world of Kelewan.
Additionally Janny Wurts once again delves deep into the fascinations of a complex political and social structure with intricate plots, ambitious rulers and a deadliness that can plunge a mighty House into utter destruction just within a good day's scheming. And of course for all fans of Feist's Midkemia saga, the events involving Mara and Kevin are perfectly woven into the plot preset by Feist.
As a summary, Servant of the Empire is a great fantasy novel, which manages to grab the readers attention for many hours but still has enough room to spin a complex tale with love for detail and many surprising twists.