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The Two Doctors Review

The Two Doctors Review analyzes books and board games of all shapes and sizes. We’re fair yet critical, though we believe value rests in every story told and every game designed. Feel free to reach out to us for a review!

Empire’s Daughter (Book 1 of Empire’s Legacy): A True Masterpiece

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Marian Thorpe’s Empire’s Daughter, the first book of her Empire’s Legacy series, takes place in the fictional land known simply as “The Empire.” Written in the first person, the tale follows Lena, a young woman raised in the coastal town of Tirvan. Within the first few pages, I realized I’d stumbled upon a truly special story; for Thorpe has created an alternative world that bends gender and sexual norms in brilliant form.

In the Empire, women live separate from men. The men all join the military at a young age, while the women live in villages scattered throughout the land, as established by a treaty between men and women centuries before the narrative. Women raise both boys and girls until the age of seven, when the men come to take their sons off to war.

But this world isn’t some strange sexist place where men rule over women; the arrangement was mutually established, and men and women view each other as equals throughout. I won’t spoil how Thorpe continually complicates gender dynamics throughout the book, but this alternative reality she’s created truly forces readers to think about the absurdity of “traditional” gender and sexual rules that exist in our world today. Just imagine if history had followed an alternative path, what possibilities could have occurred.

Yes, I’ve been raving about the setting, but the characters of Empire’s Daughter are also incredibly diverse in their beliefs, convictions, and behaviors. On one page you’ll meet a bull-headed, stubborn women, on the next the insightful old grandmother. Elsewhere, you’ll meet the thoughtful military commander, immediately followed by the drunken disorderly soldier. Through her characters, Thorpe breathes life into her world in a way few writers can.

Finally, I can’t emphasize enough that Thorpe knows how to continuously raise the stakes of conflicts, both internal and external, as she constantly expands and contracts the plot throughout the story. And every conflict pays off, in curious, intriguing, thoughtfully thematic ways.

I highly recommend Empire’s Daughter. Any reader will find something to enjoy in this novel.

Writing: 9/10. Thorpe’s writing is some of the cleanest I’ve seen of indie-authors, and she successfully draws you in with her rich descriptions and sensory experiences.

Characters: 10/10. Even through a first person perspective, Thorpe makes you feel the emotions and pains of other characters. That’s hard to accomplish.

Setting: 9/10. I only withhold ten points from this category because I earned absolutely no context for lands (save one) beyond the Empire’s borders. It’s not necessary for this story, perhaps, but given the detail provided everything else, I wish I’d learned just a little about the geopolitics of the world!

Plot: 10/10. All conflicts serve a purpose and connect with powerful themes that undercut every page. You will want resolution alongside Lena, the main character, and you’ll be rooting for wins for other characters, too!

Overall: 9.5/10. Empire’s Daughter receives the second five star review from The Two Doctors Review. Well done, Marian Thorpe!

You can find Empire’s Daughter on Amazon!