Genre: high fantasy
Cover: old fashioned
Warning: I have read this book in Dutch, so the names are probably different.
Following "Daughter of the Empire" and "Servant of the Empire", this novel brings the trilogy to a finish. Now Mara faces not only the brotherhood of assassins, and the spies of the rival ruling houses, but the Assembly of Magicians, who see her as the ultimate threat to their ancient power.
Three years have passed since Mara of the Acoma defeated the Minwanabi, and gained their beautiful estate. Life is good for her and her husband, Hokanu of the Shinzawai. She has forsaken the Game of the Council, and is content running her family and her business, making the Acoma wealthy and powerful again.
But all is not well of course; a lot of the Lords are apposing the Emperor’s new rule and his change to a more humane society. And that means that Mara’s enemies are not resting either, as she is one of the major powers behind his throne. She is immensely popular with the common people, as she is a Servant of the Empire, and there hasn’t been one for a very long time.
The bad day comes when Mara’s oldest son Ajiki is killed by a Tong assassin. The assassin is caught and slaughtered by her guards, but that is too late to safe Ajiki. Mara is heartbroken, and when she thinks Jiro of the Anasati is behind it, she cannot control her anuish when she sees him at the cremation rites. She bodily attacks him, and Jiro calls for blood revenge. But when both armies are on the verge of battle, the Assembly of Magicians interferes. They forbid any armed conflict between the Acoma, the Anasati and the Shinzawai, so Hokanu cannot act on behalf of Mara either.
Mara is very angry with the Assembly, and asks her spy master Arakasi to research them and find a way to infiltrate in their ranks. But this proves to be pointless.
Another assassination attempt on Mara almost succeeds, she loses her unborn child, and almost dies. It takes Hokanu almost giving up his life when he goes with Arakasi in search of the antidote, and Hokunu is intercepted by Anasati murderers on the way back.
When Mara finally is well again, she gives Arakasi a new job, to find the head quarters of the Tong Hamoi, and steal their records. It will destroy the Tong, and they will know who is behind those attempts on their life. For months Arakasi is searching for a small clue to give him the whereabouts of the Tong headquarters, and in the process, he falls in love with a concubine. It changes him, and he fears for himself now that he has finally something to lose. Of course his devotion to Mara is absolute, but perhaps there is more to life than he ever believed there to be.
When Mara gets some unexpected information from the Queen of the Cho-Ja on her ancestral lands, she embarks on a dangerous journey to unearth the information the Assembly has been hiding for millennia. She will come back and confront them to give up their superiority and take responsibility for their actions, they don’t deserve to be outside of the law anymore with the way they look down on human life and suffering. The journey is hard and Mara learns firsthand what it means to be a lowly slave, but she perseveres and with the help of her faithful battle leader Lujan, she succeeds.
But when she finally makes it back home, the Emperor has been murdered, and her biggest enemy Jiro intends to seize the throne for himself by marrying the oldest daughter of the former Emperor, who is only 12 years old…
A race against the clock and throughout a country ready for a civil war erupts. With the Assembly against her, intend on killing her before she can reach the capital, Mara will need all her cunning and knowledge to reach the Palace in time to safe her last two children … and the Empire itself …
I so love this series. It is very old, but also timeless. I love the Japanese like settings, the strange new worlds we are introduced to in this book, and especially the parts with the Cho-Ja. I just imagine some human sized ants or something like that.
If you like fantasy, you really should read this series. The worldbuilding is amazing, and the main characters are very real. I do imagine the original English is much better than the translation. Perhaps next time I will read this in English and see for myself. The combined powers of Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts make this a series to fall in love with. They still play with my emotions, even after having read this series at least a dozen times over the years.
Awesome, amazing, captivating.
© 2014 Reviews by Aurian