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Saturday 30 March 2024

My guest: Marian L Thorpe & Empire's Passing

Welcome to my Blog!
Wander through wonderful worlds
real and fictional,
meet interesting people,
visit exciting places
and find a few good books
to enjoy along the way!

About the Book
When empires fall, daughters rise.

As the Eastern Empire falls, Gwenna wrestles with a precarious legacy: her father’s vision of an alliance among Ésparias, Linrathe and Varsland. Rumours of rebellion against her leadership spread, forcing her to confront not just external threats but treachery from those she loves the most.

Haunted by grief and the echoes of war, Lena embarks alone on a dangerous journey to fulfil one of Cillian’s last wishes. Each step forces her to confront the ghosts of her past and forge a new path, one that may bring answers—or ignite retribution that could destroy them all.

Bound by love, divided by duty, fighting to find new lives beyond loss, mother and daughter must shape not only their own futures, but that of their land too.

Princess Gwenna

Many long years ago, I read a column in some magazine or another that said. “If your daughter wants to be a princess, then teach her what a princess really does.” Now, I never wanted to be a princess, but the idea stayed in the back of my mind—and when the course of events in my Empire’s Legacy series meant the daughter of two of my main characters became a princess, and eventually ruler of her country, I had my chance to use the concept.

A few weeks ago, a cousin of mine, retired from the military and with a keen interest in national security, said to me over breakfast that it is the role of the government to ensure three things are maintained: defence, infrastructure, and the food supply. In Empire’s Passing, the eighth and last book of Empire’s Legacy, these are exactly the concerns of Gwenna, Principe of Ésparias. When her country’s distant ruling power withdraws its occupying troops and administration, telling her, effectively, to ‘look to her own defences’, what concerns her—at a time of deep personal grief—is how to create and maintain stability within her land during enormous upheavals. 

War is expensive, not just in terms of human life, but in the costs of equipping and maintaining an army, and in the effects of that on the production of food and other necessities. Take away the men of fighting age, and who will farm the land and grind the wheat?  (Medieval economics has always been central to the Empire’s Legacy series: the premise of the first book, Empire’s Daughter, rests on a system of division of labour meant to maintain a food-and-goods supply in a country where every man is expected to fight.) So Gwenna worries not just about avoiding war, but the balance of trade among the countries closest to hers—and whether the existing agreements can be maintained. 

Book One of the series

"We do not know what the future brings. Will Casil’s conquerors send their armies west? Or will they learn from the records kept, and see that no profit was made from our little country, and we are not worth invading?” I nodded to Muire to continue.

“Varsland trades east, as you all know,” he said. “Not just from the trading port at Abher Tabha, but by a river route which bypasses both Linrathe and Ésparias—and I have little doubt they will continue to do so, no matter who sits on the Emperor’s throne. It is my understanding that the rivers flow through a land suited to grain, and grain is the bulk of what Varsland buys from Ésparias. To transport grain along the river route is difficult, but it is not impossible, if they cannot trade with us for it.”

“You are afraid of an alliance eastward, one that could have implications for Ésparias and Linrathe.” Valle spoke for the first time, not a question, but a summary.

“I am,” I said. “Such an alliance could isolate us, return us to being a small and vulnerable nation…”

Gwenna must  balance food security against the needs of infrastructure to facilitate trade, and the needs of an army if an invasion does happen.

We moved to a map of Ésparias, spread out over a large table and weighted at the corners. 

“These”—Talyn pointed to two spots on the map—“are bridges that should be completed. Of all the construction, those are the ones that I feel should have priority.”

“We also have the mines to consider.” Ésparias’s metal ore had almost all gone to Casil, except what we needed ourselves. While the miners themselves were mostly civilians, settlers and Ésparian-born alike, the skills needed to build and maintain the structures and equipment of the mines belonged to soldiers…

“Do we need to keep all the mines open?” Garia asked. 

Talyn straightened, a hand on her lower back. “We need metal, to replenish weaponry.”

Gwenna must also decide where to place her priorities in the face of competing demands. She has her advisors, but in the end, the decisions are hers.

We crested a rise, and there before me lay the Eastern Fort, and beyond it the sea and the first of the islands that divided the Edanan Sea from the Nivéan… We had spoken of those islands yesterday, Finn and I, in the context of the possibility of invasion from Casil’s conquerors. “They should be our first line of defence,” he’d said. “We need fortifications, garrisons, supplies of weapons. Fire arrows and possibly even ballistae. The watchtower is useful, but it isn’t enough.”

“Do it,” I’d said, seeing the sense. 

“I’ll need more troops, and ones with experience in building would be helpful.”

I’d signed the orders. Bridges could wait; ferries or floating bridges had served, and could keep serving. They were not conducive to moving troops or supplies rapidly, but Finn was right: this had to take precedence.

 * * * 

A writer friend, reading Empire’s Passing, said: “other writers have their rulers leading armies, and doing  ‘other royal duties’… Gwenna shows us what those other duties are.” 

A fictional princess she may be, but as with so many medieval women of the real world who led city-states or nations, her educated diplomatic mind works tirelessly for her country and her people. 

About the Author
After two careers as a research scientist and an educator, Marian decided it was time to do what she’d always really wanted, and be a writer. As well as her novels, she’s published short stories and poetry. Her life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history provided the inspiration for the books, while her other interests in landscape archaeology and birding provide background.

Twitter  @ marianthorpe


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