Empire’s Daughter (Empire’s Legacy, Book I)
For twenty generations, the men and women of The Empire have lived separately, the women farming and fishing, the men fighting wars. But in the spring of Lena’s seventeenth year, an officer rides into her village with an unprecedented request. The Empire is threatened by invasion, and to defend it successfully, women will need to fight.
When the village votes in favour, Lena and her partner Maya are torn apart. Maya chooses exile rather than battle, Lena chooses to fight. As Lena learns the skills of warfare and leadership, she discovers that choices have consequences that cannot be foreseen, and that her role in her country’s future is greater than she could have dreamed.
GUEST POST FROM THE AUTHOR
How I use history to inform my world.
(This article refers to the entire Empire’s Legacy series, not just Empire’s Daughter.)
My Empire’s Legacy series is set in an unreal world, but it is heavily based on the history of northern Europe between in the early medieval period. I’ve woven in events that happened over that period: the building of Hadrian’s Wall (2nd C); the withdrawal of Rome from Britain (5th ); various local wars between areas of Britain (5 – 11th C) the Great Heathen Army invasion (9th C) and the Justinian Plague (6th C). I use them all, in some form, but not in chronological order, nor with the same results. My question was: How did these events shape the history of these people – and then the first question of every writer – what if?
My major city, Casil, is a combination of Rome in its Imperial glory and Byzantium. Physically it’s Rome for the simple reason there are some wonderful 3D recreations of Imperial Rome, and maps. Politically, it’s more like Byzantium. Both have a degree of familiarity to many readers of my genre, so they’re not focused on trying to understand the city to the detriment of the developing plot. I do this in other situations, too, combining aspects of people and places.
I’ve changed the world only where it needs changing for the story. I wanted to examine issues of gender and sexuality and I wanted to do it upfront. I created one society where men and women live separately most of the year, and same-sex relationships are pretty much the norm. This contrasts with the rest of the world, but only in this manner. These men and women are still leading 7th C lives. Everything is as accurate as research can make it, so that this departure from reality stands out.
Even ‘departures’ are based on something, if possible. I used the societal structure of Sparta – where men and women did live separately much of the time – as the basis for my women’s villages, and the military requirements of Rome as the basis for the men’s lives, and then just made them more extreme.
All sorts of details into the stories strengthen the sense of time and place. Glass goblets, for example: they were known, and used, in Roman Britain, but they were expensive and fragile and precious, so they would be found only in wealthy households, and even there used only on special occasions. I make a point of that, in one scene.
If appropriate, I reference real people to further a sense of reality. Because my geography is also different, I don’t feel it’s appropriate for my scholar characters to be referring to Marcus Aurelius or other classical philosophers and generals, so I have given them (and their writings) different names. Marcus Aurelius and his Meditations became Catilius (one of Marcus Aurelius’s middle names) and his book The Contemplations.
Finally, I’m not afraid to use modern(ish) terms to explain concepts. Clarity is preferable. In my WIP, where a character is a musician and musical concepts are important to how he thinks, I use terms from much later in musical theory. The anachronism is better, in mind, than adding a dissertation on 7th C music to the book. Not all readers will agree, though.
Does this all work? The quality of my world-building is the most frequent comment I get in reviews and reader feedback, so it apparently does!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Writer of historical fantasy and urban fantasy for adults. The Empire’s Legacy series explores gender expectations, the conflicts between personal belief and societal norms, and how, within a society where sexuality is fluid, personal definitions of love and loyalty change with growth and experience.
The world of Empire’s Legacy was inspired by my interest in the history of Britain in the years when it was a province of the Roman Empire called Britannia, and then in the aftermath of the fall of the Roman Empire. In another life, I would have been a landscape archaeologist, and landscape is an important metaphor in the Empire’s Legacy trilogy and in all my writing, fiction and non-fiction.
I live in Canada for most of the year, England for the rest, have one cat, a husband, and when I’m not writing or editing, I’m birding.
Social Media Links –
Website is marianlthorpe.com
Twitter @Marian Thorpe
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/marianlthorpe
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