A true reading treat,
This review is from: Servant of the Empire (Mass Market Paperback)In "Daughter of the Empire" the first book of the series, Mara of the Acoma defeated her most immediate and dangerous enemy and saved her family name from obliteration. However, the defeat of Jingu of the Minwanabi doesn't end Mara's problems. Jingu's son Desio and his nephew Tasaio have merely taken up the family cause. And Tasaio was the cunning architect of the plans that killed Mara's father and brother. A long range thinker and a proponent of the idea of a well laid plan, Tasaio is a formidable enemy.
In the meantime, Mara buys Kevin of Zun and takes him into her home as a slave. As prisoners of war from the land of Midkemia across the rift, Kevin and his "barbarian" countrymen make terrible slaves. They don't believe in the Kelewanese concept of caste or of their treatment of slaves. They are rebellious, prone to escape and refuse to bow down to their masters. Mara is fascinated by the handsome slave and his strange ideas of freedom. Soon Mara and Kevin become lovers and Mara begins to learn more about the way of life in Midkemia. Kevin quickly becomes a valuable part of Mara's household and in her fight against her enemies. Mara has always been an unpredictable thinker and incorporating Kevin's off-worlder ideas into the fabric of her moves in the Great Game of Council further confounds her enemies.
Once again Mara manages to outwit her enemies using unconventional thinking, a lot of luck, and an Emperor who doesn't plan to be just a figurehead any longer.
The second book of Wurts' and Feist's Empire series is equal parts political fantasy and romance novel. Mara is once again deeply involved in the maneuverings and manipulations that at once gain her stature among her peers and strengthen her House against those who would see her destroyed. The inclusion of Kevin gives Mara a true love interest (her abusive husband from the previous book doesn't qualify) and gives her an outsider's view of her culture's enigmatic and often destructive way of life. It also ushers in the change of Mara from uncanny survivor to social reformer.
I liked the first book in the series but I liked this one better. The characters deepen, we see more of the countryside and meet more of the Tsurani people including the Emperor and the mysterious Black Robes. The introduction of the outlander Kevin to the story helps to drive the plot and also serves as a logical place for exposition. Kevin can stand in for the reader and ask the questions "Why" and make the wry observations that about the Tsurani way of life. He serves brilliantly as the Outsider-who shakes-up-the-establishment and is the focal point of the members of Mara's household beginning to question their culture's stance on many issues including honor, death and slavery.
Great book. I Highly recommend.