Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Marian L. Thorpe, the author of Empire’s Legacy trilogy (out now as complete omnibus version in paperback and e-book – an absolute steal at $5.99) – one of my favourite reads of the year so far.
Bjørn asked a hard and insightful question: what is my series, Empire’s Legacy, really about? At first glance, they might appear to be a simple adventure-romance trilogy, set in an early-medieval world, with people a lot like Gaels and Vikings and Saxons vying for power and land, and the memory of the Roman Empire just barely alive.
At first glance. But about half-way through the first of the trilogy, Empire’s Daughter, the character Casyn says this to my protagonist, eighteen-year-old Lena: “…we cannot shape the circumstances to fit our lives, only our lives to fit the circumstances. What defines us, as men and women, is how we respond to those circumstances.”
Much of the Empire’s Legacy series looks, through its protagonist’s eyes, at the difficulty and the price of taking personal responsibility for the choices we make in life, good or bad; about shaping our responses to events – political and personal – that change our lives. This isn’t to say my characters are Panglossian, or Pollyannas. They know they don’t live in the best of all possible worlds, and that not all is sweetness and light. Life throws some horrible things at them: war, betrayal, violence, loss, rejection. It’s unfair. Some of it is imposed by forces beyond their control. Some of it is a direct result of personal choice, and some of it is a combination of those things.
The impetus for the story was the experience of my mother and two aunts in World War II.
Britain drafted women into the forces or other war work, and both my mother and my Aunt Catherine saw active service with the Royal Corps of Signals, serving in France with SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied European Forces) HQ. My Aunt Mary, who had married a Dane and was living in Denmark, became part of the Danish resistance. They had been young women in their twenties when war threatened and began; their lives were disrupted beyond imagining, and they were required to serve, a new experience for women in Britain. I took that scenario, that mix of fear and perceived duty and their determination to help defeat an enemy, and moved it to a world reminiscent of early-medieval Britain. But the inciting incident, the beginning of the story, is the same challenge: a general telling the women of his land that they must help defend their land against imminent invasion, or face almost-certain defeat. The men alone cannot win this war.
These are not easy choices, and my protagonist and other characters do not make their decisions lightly; nor do they find them simple to live with. Doubts plague them; their actions horrify them sometimes. Nothing is black and white, because nothing in life is. They are human, frail, unsure, sometimes despairing, sometimes self-loathing.
Intertwined with the narrative of war and exile and more war is a story – no, many stories – about the power and limits of love to provide shelter and sanctuary in a turbulent world. Human love, primarily: mothers to their daughters and sons, fathers to their children known and unknown; the love of friends, of brothers, of sisters, of sexual partners, and love unrequited. Love for another person, but also love of country, the deep sense of belonging to a land, a landscape, a language, another facet of the things that define us.
But if all this is too esoteric, here’s a simpler way of putting it: What are the books about? Invasion, war, exile, journey, violence, love, betrayal, redemption, philosophy, music. And a bear.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015YQYKKK
Twitter : @marianlthorpe