Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the Empire’s Legacy Book Blitz presented by Storytellers On Tour. I get to show off Marian L Thorpe’s beautiful Historical Fantasy omnibus with you all today, one that has definitely piqued my interest. Add to the TBR – check! Marian stopped by to share how her personal experiences led to the creation of this sprawling story of hers, and there’s no better time to share this tale of strength and empowerment than now during Women’s History Month. Keep scrolling for this fantastic guest post, to learn more about the book and author, and to enter the giveaway to win yourself a copy of Empire’s Legacy (which is really THREE books!).
A Woman’s War
by Marian L Thorpe
War stories, in my family, were the women’s.
I’m old enough that my mother and my aunt served in WWII, in the British forces. My father didn’t: his eyesight was appallingly bad. Britain drafted women: after December of 1941, all unmarried women and all childless widows between the ages of 20 and 30 could be conscripted. There were simply not enough men, and every woman who took on a role as a driver or teletype operator, mechanic or electrician, freed up a man to fight.
Women made munitions, replaced farm workers, broke code, flew airplanes outside of battle. I grew up with these stories – my mother and aunt were teletype operators stationed in France, knowing classified battle secrets, subjected to bombing raids. Their work was vital in winning the war.
Somewhere in my mid-forties, I started thinking about this, and the lives of women everywhere whose husbands and sons and fathers had gone to fight, or gone away to work, leaving them in communities primarily female. Iceland in the early part of the last century, where men left to fish for months on end. Sparta in classical times. Caribbean islands now where men come to Canada to pick fruit and vegetables. And one day, my writer’s mind conceived of a world where men and women had lived separate lives for generations, the men at war, the women farming and fishing, feeding themselves and their men. Until the day, like Britain in WWII, when their country’s leader says we need your help. Invasion is imminent, and we haven’t enough men. You need to learn to fight.
What does that do to a world where fighting is a man’s responsibility? How does asking a community to change generations of tradition overnight play out? When partners disagree, what then? All this is seen through the eyes of my protagonist, Lena, only a year into adulthood when the call to arms comes.
I wanted a familiar world, but not a real one. I wanted it to be pre-industrial, to remove military technology. The world Lena inhabits is almost northern Europe after the decline of Rome: almost, but not quite. The geography differs a bit. The history is adapted. Lena’s society especially is an invention.
The three books of the trilogy take Lena from her fishing village into enemy lands and beyond, into a world of legend. There is no magic: the challenges and violence and terror Lena faces are all real. I didn’t want magic threats or magic solutions, nor did I want the restrictions of historical fiction and the necessary suspension of disbelief if I put Lena into a real 6th century setting. So I gave her a world outside reality, but one that functions – physically, at least – like ours.
I call the books historical fiction of another world, although they are usually classified as historical fantasy. Another world where war stories belong to women, and are heard.
(There are sequels, by the way, looking at different sorts of challenge and courage: what happens after the war? How do you pick up the pieces, create a new life, forge alliances? Empire’s Reckoning is out now; Empire’s Heir late in 2021, with one further book, as yet untitled, planned.)
Lena is a skilled hunter, but beyond the need to kill for food, weapons are a man’s domain – until one day a soldier arrives in her village, pleading for fighters. Accepting his challenge, she steps into a new life, one of battle, intrigue and politics, where actions have deadly consequences. Her survival – and that of her country – depends on her prowess with knife and bow, her quick wit, and a journey into unimagined lands to confront a lost Empire of immense power.
Meet the Author
My books are historical fantasy in that they are historical fiction of an imagined world, one that is close to Britain, Northern Europe, and Rome, but isn’t any of them. A world where a society evolved differently after the Eastern Empire left, where one young fisherwoman answers her leader’s call to defend her country, beginning a journey into uncharted territory.
After two careers as a research scientist and an educator, I decided it was time to do what I’d always really wanted and be a writer. As well as my novels, I’ve published short stories, both on-line and in chapbook format, and poetry. I’ve done public readings at several juried venues, including the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. My life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history provided the inspiration for my books, while my other interests in landscape archaeology and birding provide background. Walking across England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea with my sister also had a major influence on the Empire’s Legacy trilogy!
I also oversee Arboretum Press, a small publishing imprint run as a collective. Right now, I’m writing Empire’s Heir, the next book in the series.
Enter to win yourself a copy of Empire’s Legacy by Marian L Thorpe!
Grand Prize (1): A physical copy (US/CA/UK Only)
Runners-Up (2): An ebook copy (International)
That’s all I got for ya! A huge thank you to Marian for stopping by and sharing an incredible post with us. Stay tuned throughout the day as wonderful features showcasing Marian L Thorpe’s Empire’s Legacy pop up over blogs and social media. And don’t forget to pick yourself up a copy over on Amazon!