This book, or rather, series of books was my introduction to both Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts, and to the magical world that Mr Feist has created in the Riftwar Cycle. I had heard very little of these things before, and even after reading the Empire trilogy I’ve been unable to pursue further interest in these works although I would say that has come down to time more than anything else.
I obtained these books first from a friend of mine who wanted to acquaint me to the main character of the series, Mara of the Acoma. Mara is a young Lady, only a priestess in the beginning of the first book — and yet the most powerful person in the Empire by the end of the third. It is this rise that we are brought in to observe — how a young woman can make a political house ascend through all sorts of trouble — and I would say that the authors do very well in the one thing I enjoy: there’s plenty of political intrigue and thought that has gone into these books.
This may be mainly due to the traditional way of the Empire which has managed to ritualize much of life, including the time honoured question of how exactly should we kill the sworn enemies of our house, but it does not take away from the fact that death is close. Always. Mara, young girl as she is, is cast into a potentially lethal rulership (aside from being the main character) and all of the troubles that come with it — never being trained to lead she has to take it up on the go, and her not-quite-traditional upbringing seems to give her a hand in all of this.
I find her rise enjoyable if sometimes incredulous, but there is a fair bit of backstabbery and treachery so all is never as rosy as it seems. Our characters experience pain and loss, and that is what helps them to remain real. Sure, Mara is incredibly lucky all throughout the series — but she pays her price, and that price is often high. Maybe a more realistic version would have made the price even higher, but I guess that world-renown luck must do something to help people along…
The society and life of the Empire are maybe detailed not quite as much as I would like, and there are a few details which could always be expanded upon in more detail, but I feel that this series was a very good way of bringing me into the Riftwar Cycle. For, as I said, even though I have not been able to read further into it, I have wanted to for a long while. Indeed, every time I walk by Mr Feist’s ‘Magician’ in a Waterstones, I think “Is today the day I buy that book?”. It hasn’t been thus far, but that day is getting closer. And, in the end, the day will have been brought about by Mara and her Empire.