Raymond E. Feist was born in Southern California. He went to the University of California in San Diego to complete with honours a Communication Arts degree. He now lives in Rancho Santa Fe in California. His first novel was the Magician which is a New York Times and London Times Best Seller. Following the Magician he added two more books to the trilogy to complete what is known as the Rift War Saga which has not evolved into a huge collection of books dominating the Riftwar Cycle.
This is a series in connection with Feist’s Rift War Saga which started with the Magician. It is about the countries Kelewan and Midkemia and their war with one another and their mutual battle against The Enemy. These two countries are actually in different dimensions and can only be entered into by a rift through time and space. These two worlds are extremely different and in the Magician you see the side of the story from Midkemia, whereas in the Empire Trilogy you see it from the perspective of the people in Kelewan, in particular from the view of Mara of the Acoma.
Mara is a young girl from a very old and wealthy family. She has a father and an elder brother who is destined to be the leader of their house when their father is gone and has been trained from a young age to be his successor. Mara, being a girl has never been trained in such things as her brother has, but she was very much loved by her family. Knowing that she was never going to the leader of the house, and not wanting to marry for political purposes she decides to become a priestess and forgo her family’s wealth and influence.
However, the rift war has begun between the two worlds and her brother and father are betrayed by her own people and are killed. She is then thrust into the seat of leader of the household and is in a position of great power as she is from one of the oldest families. However, her life is in danger as there are enemies at every turn who want to kill and destroy her. She is lead on a journey to discover her own strength and revolutionise the way the people in her country live, think and believe. She, using her own cunning out wits opponents and becomes one of the most influential and dangerous persons of her time.
The series is so very well written and I found it seamless to read. To me there were no hard or boring scenes to get through, nor was there any parts that I thought that could have been better. From the very first page I was hooked into the story. Their vision for the plot and the world the characters are in is so impeccably clear, it is incredible. I have read works by both of these authors and I found that they stories were fantastic, but each missed a crucial element. I think that element was each other. I feel like the Empire trilogy makes up for where the authors alone were lacking.
As most fantasy’s go, it is written in third person, but you feel as if it is in first person which is an incredible achievement because they eliminated the typical isolation of the reader when delving into third person. I felt connected to Mara from the very beginning and with each book my love of her grew.
The whole book is extremely visual. It has been a few years since I last read the series, but as I have the book here in front of me, I remember how the scenes played out in my head and I still get emotional just thinking about some of the saddest points. Even now, after all these years my heart utterly breaks for Mara. What is great about the Empire trilogy is that it is written in a way that all your senses are immersed in this world. When I read it, I felt like a fly on the wall or even the maid who came in and brushed Mara’s hair in the mornings- always there and always watching.
Something that always captivated me about the Series was the world of Kelewan and their culture. Their world is so three dimensional and real, that it is tangible to me. These people have a hierarchy, inner politics, a back story that goes back generations, a belief system and an ingrained way of thinking and acting. When I think of Kelewan’s culture, I think of places in our own world which are still steeped in culture such as India. There the people are very ingrained in their ways, they live and breathe their culture, as do the people of Kelewan.
The main reason why I love this book is because of the main character Mara. She is one of my favourite characters of all time and most definitely is the one character that I feel a kinship and emotional connection to. I don’t know if that is weird to have with a fictional character, but I do not think that I am alone in that. I feel very in touch with this character and she is so very real to me. There are times where I was crying like a baby for her, I felt her heart rip apart as if it were my own and felt her love. My god. Early in the second book, **SPOILER ALERT** her young son dies when an assassin tried to kill her and took him instead. I died in that moment, you know how much she loves her son and right now, just writing this and remembering the scene I want to cry again.
The other reason I love Mara is because she is both the epitome of femininity and a strong heroine at the same time. I feel like many female heroines these days, when they are faced with the challenges they “toughen up” and somehow lose their femininity, but Mara doesn’t do that. She rises to each challenge with a grace and elegance that only she can muster. She does not show her strength through feats of physical strength or endurance, but why I respect her so much is that her strength lies within from the trials she has overcome and everything she has sacrificed. Her heart is like iron and her will is a diamond- glorious and the hardest element on this earth. I think Feist and Wurts hit the nail on the head through her strong feminine voice. I, sadly, do not think that Feist could have done this aspect on his own. His female characters in his other books are quite two dimensional and dry, while Mara actually sounds like a woman should.
As it is the other side of the story of the Magician by Raymond E. Feist, there will be points where they mention things happening in Midkemia and you will not know what is going on. Since I read this before the Magician I happily ignored it and it barely detracted from the overall story. However, I do advise to read the Magician first to fully appreciate the series.
The names of certain things I still to this day cannot pronounce such as the Tsuranuanni, which is the empire of a particular part of Kelewan and Midkemia, the name of the other world and many of the characters names. What I do is just make up what I think it says and use that!
Let me know if you are considering reading this now, or if you have read it what you think! I seriously love this trilogy!