Raymond E. Feist, author of the quite lengthy Riftwar Cycle series (30 novels and 3 short stories in length), wasn’t my favorite author as a teen. In fact, I stopped reading the Riftwar Cycle somewhere around book 9, Shadow of a Dark Queen. But I loved Magician (which I talked about in a previous flashback), and more than that, I really loved The Empire Trilogy.
I think what gelled most with me about the trilogy is that the main character, Mara, rises to power in a patriarchal society based strongly on the Japanese empires of old. Society sees Mara as a weak female, subservient and docile in nature. Someone to be married off to a man who beats her and keeps her with child. She could give in to this, but instead, chooses to bend tradition, plot, and scheme to take over the Empire. (Reminds me a bit of a Japanese Xena. Wait, I think Xena was in Japan somewhere in her timeline… 😉 )
When most people speak of Feist, they focus on the other books in the Riftwar Cycle. Books focused on male characters in battle against the evil empire. The allusion to the US’s war with Japan during WWII is heavy in these books (or it was to me as a kid), and politics run more in that direction than they do towards the overthrowing of a patriarchal society. I think that’s why I enjoy this particular trilogy—it’s the underdog. It’s the other side of the coin and the side of the story.
Growing up reading books from the unlikely heroes’ perspectives is what taught me as a writer to do the same thing.
We don’t need yet another book about yet another male hero with a sword saving a girl. We don’t need another book about a girl who needs saving and falls in love with a prince with a six pack. We don’t need another book about yet another boy who finds out he’s a prince and didn’t know it.
We need books about girls who save themselves or even say, screw it! I don’t need a guy at all! Or books about men who cry, who touch the lives of others with their compassion. Or books about bad-ass warrior women who have their own set of notches on the wooden post who are still kicking ass at 60 (as is the case with my character in Warhammer, the prequel to my upcoming novel, Amaskan’s Blood. Plan to draft it after I finish Book II.).
Want to read other Flashback Fridays? Click here to see the list in this series.