Servant of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

Much more expansive than the first one but still great.

There’s a bit of a time gap from the first book but I think it’s only a few months. Mara is buying some slaves and ends up buying some Midkemian slaves which includes Kevin who ends up becoming integral to the story. The rest of the book basically revolves around her escalating conflict with Minwanabi which comes to a dramatic conclusion.

So the first book is pretty much all from Mara’s POV, but here we get more from both Kevin and Incomo from the Minwanabi, as well as a few others. It adds greater depth to the story and I always love getting perspectives from both sides of a conflict. All the newer POV’s are written well and you get invested in them all. The world also gets a lot bigger here, with Mara having to go on campaign as well as a lot of the action taking place in the Imperial City. The world feels ancient and rich with history and is incredibly well realised.

Now another major part of this book is the romance between Mara and Kevin. There is no getting around the fact that this is almost the central theme of the book. It’s also tied into slavery as well as Mara begins to question the ethics of it but she only really does due to the relationship that develops between them. This might turn people off but I’ve never had a problem with it and actually it’s one of my favourite bits. Tempestuous might be a good description of it. There is also obviously a major power imbalance between the two of them but I think it’s done fairly well.

Another great part of this book, especially fans of Feist’s Riftwar trilogy, is that the events that occur in them have a direct impact on the events here. We have the Arena scene from people at ground zero and it is frightening. There are also major events that occur due to the endings of each of the three books that have a profound impact of Tsurani culture and of which Mara takes full advantage. It is the causal links like these that make these series still so attractive to me even after reading so many times.

It is a much bigger book than the first and is slower paced, but I think it makes the story richer and is all the better for it. Looking forward to the conclusion.

5 stars

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