Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Book Blog Tour Stop and Guest Post: Empire's Daughter by Marian L. Thorpe

Empire’s Daughter (Empire’s Legacy, Book I) by Marian L Thorpe

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.

 The Empty Land
The setting for Empire’s Daughter is mostly informed by the landscape of Wales, northern England, and Scotland.  But there is one aspect of Lena’s world that comes directly from the place which is my winter home and ancestral land, the East Anglian county of Norfolk, and that is the underpopulation of the land.
(East Anglia is that part of England north-east of London that juts out a bit towards Europe, for non-UK readers.)
 Norfolk (North Folk) is the most northerly bit of that section. In the 14th century Norfolk was the most densely populated and most intensively farmed region in England. Now, it ranks 40th of the 48 counties in population density, the number of people per unit of land.
The depopulation of Norfolk is evident in its countryside: huge churches in tiny hamlets; many lost medieval villages, now only lumps and bumps in the fields; roads degraded to footpaths and bridleways. Its relative emptiness, huge fields, hundreds of miles of paths and trails, and bird-filled skies are what bring me here to escape the Canadian winter, along with a deep familial relationship with this land. It has nothing in common with the part of the Empire Lena inhabits, except the depopulation.
The depopulation of the Empire is hinted at, addressed obliquely but never directly. But it’s an empty land Lena inhabits, villages scattered and distant, too few men to defend the land against threats from two directions. The reasons for the Empire’s depopulation and that of Norfolk are pretty much the same, although the mechanisms behind them are different.  None of this is fleshed out in Empire’s Daughter, although it is much more evident and developed in Empire’s Hostage, Book II of the series. But it’s still there, a history that even Lena isn’t truly aware of, but that will influence her actions and choices, the way the stories we carry around with us influence what we choose and think and do, without us always knowing it. I wove Norfolk’s emptiness into the Empire unconsciously, only recognizing what I had done after it was written.
But as all writers condense and relive their own experiences when writing, there is one scene in Empire’s Daughter that has nothing to do with the landscape of Britain. When Lena stops at the top of the hills and stares down at the rolling grasslands in front of her, awakening in her a longing she didn’t know she had – well, that is an almost literal transcription of my feelings the first time we drove east out of the Rockies in Colorado and I saw the High Plains spread out in front of me, all that space, all that emptiness, all that sky.

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.

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Giveaway to Win all 3 paperbacks of the Empire’s Legacy trilogy (Open INT)
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