Empire's Hostage

Empire's Hostage

by Marian L. Thorpe

3 out of 5

Synopsis
In the second book in the Empire's Legacy series, The Empire and the northern people have been at war for over a year, but a truce is finally at hand. As part of this treaty, Lena, now a Guardswoman on the Wall, is asked to stand as hostage, to go north to live and learn among the people of Linrathe. But not everyone there will welcome her.

As Lena learns more of the history of both her land and the north, a new threat emerges, one that will test her loyalty to its limits, and in the end, demand a price she could not have envisioned.



Review
When hostages are exchanged to secure a peace treaty, Lena finds herself on the other side of the wall, seeing how her enemies live; and learning how little she knows.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first book I've read from the Empire's Legacy series. I think I could have benefited from reading Empire's daughter first, but Empire's Hostage was easy enough to follow. Lena's life and adventures from the first book were all explained fully in this book.

Lena is a Guardswoman in the Empire's army, defending the wall from Northmen attacks.
After a year of stalemate, they agree to a peace treaty. As one of the generals views Lena as a surrogate daughter, she is given the honour of being a hostage - her life will be forfeit if anyone breaks the treaty. On the plus side, she is sent to a place of learning, and is encouraged to increase her education whilst she's there.

This story is strongly influenced by the Roman occupation of Britain, but it's a re-imagining, which gives the author absolute freedom in creating plots and histories. Thorpe does this really well, building a foundation that feels real and familiar, but very new.
Thorpe's background of research and education comes through strong, as facts are presented and backed up. There is an emphasis of discussion, debating philosophies and the moralities tied up in different ways of living.
But this strength is also the book's weakness.
There is so much focus on creating the atmosphere and background of the story; the debate and discussion over every small fact drags on, slowing the story to a snail's pace. Throughout the narration and dialogue, telling is used to fill everything in.

Our main character is very passive. True, Lena is a hostage, dropped into this middle of an unknown country; but she has no agency. Apart from her love of her horse (which I can fully-appreciate), I never got a feeling of what she really wants.

Overall, this story had a lot of promise, and I enjoyed the world that was created; but the story bordered on educational, rather than a heart-felt plot.

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