Servant of the Empire by Raymond Feist and Jenny Wurts (JS)
Review by Jacqui Slaney
This is the second in the series of books about Mara of the Acoma and without going into details and spoiling the first for those who have not yet read, I think this one is better.
Nobody knows how to play the Game of the Council better than Mara of the Acoma. Through bloody political manoeuvring, she has become a powerful force within the Empire; but surrounded by deadly rivals, Mara has to be the best simply to stay alive.
But Lady Mara must contend with battles on two fronts: in the hotbed of intrigue and treachery that is the court of Tsurani; and in her heart, where her affection for a barbarian slave from the enemy world of Midkemia leads her to question the principles by which she lives.
In this book, Mara’s character really develops, her POV chapters are well written and you can really see the world around her and the rules with which her people live by. What makes the book so good you get another very good central character in the slave that she buys. You get to see this strange world through his eyes so get a completely different point of view and how he interprets Mara’s actions really makes the whole world of the Tsurani come alive.
There is an excellent scene where Kevin revisits the other slaves who were bought with him. They are field hands, their lives are quite hard, and Kevin is shocked to find that they still see this world as alien and cruel. It dawns on him that as he himself has been accepted; to him the Tsurani has become normal, and that now he sees these former enemies as friends and their ways and actions as making sense. This realisation is quite hard on him and the dialogue between him and Mara following this is excellent as he starts to change her perception of how her world sees slaves.
There is plenty of action in this book with various battles between the different factions and a war with a different race of being. The battle scenes are well described and it is easy for the reader to visualise them.
Pug the Magician from the other Riftwar books makes an appearance and due to his feeling of hatred for the ruling classes of the Tsurani uses his power to causes ones of the biggest upsets that has been seen.
The Mara and Kevin combination is excellent with the ideals of both worlds being thrown against each other, both the good and bad. Of all the three books this is the book I have gone back to the most. With the humour and action, quite bloody in some cases, any reader will find something to hold their attention.
9 out of 10