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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

Daughter of the Empire - 'Raymond E. Feist',  'Janny Wurts' Collaborations can be a challenging way to tell a story, especially when both authors have an established voice. Ultimately, if done well, they are like an interesting ice cream swirl, something of the flavor of both authors creating a pleasant compination. Andre Norton is one of those authors that seem to collaborate well, although I'm not sure if that's partly because she was the idea generator and then had a co-writer do more of the heavy lifting, especially in her later years. One of the best examples of co-writing I remember is [b:Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot|64207|Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Cecelia and Kate, #1)|Patricia C. Wrede|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1328875743s/64207.jpg|505], largely because it used letters between two young girls as the primary framing device, allowing the voices of both authors to shine. Daughter of the Empire was the result of a collaboration between Janny Wurts and Raymond Feist, and though I haven't read any Feist, I have to say it blends well, and Feist's influence tempered Wurt's writing and made it infinitely more palatable.I've avoided writing about Wurt's books since meeting her in one of my GR groups, as she is a truly wonderful, generous and respectful person. Her contributions to different book discussions are thoughtful and circumspect, and she's willing to share her time if readers are interested. The information she shared about the collaboration was interesting, and gave a great deal of insight into the process. If you've read this book or are a fan of Wurts, I highly recommend checking out her comments.To the book itself: it is a detailed epic fantasy, and would likely appeal to those who are looking for something in the genre that is more female-centered than most. It follows young Mara as she is pulled from a life of religious devotion and into the political games of the local fiefdoms, to both survive and to defend the honor of her house.A note on style: Wurts' writing usually has too many superlatives for my taste, and she ends up resorting to italics in order to make her points in the more emotional sections. It must be Feist's or the editor's influence, because for one of the first times reading her books, I found myself able to concentrate on the story and characterization without being distracted by the writing. In this sense, the book worked for me.Plotting is acceptable. However, Mara develops the habit of keeping her plans to herself, since she doesn't want to argue with her former nursemaid or her man-at-arms. This both aids and detracts the story; aiding because it keeps the reader in suspense about what she will do, but detracting because it means her actions are often not quite comprehensible to the reader. If she explains it over-much to her people. the story risks losing its sense of legitimate dialogue; if it isn't explained, readers are left with a culture and heroine that is just slightly incomprehensible. Thus, after I finished reading, I wasn't sure if I disliked Mara because of a lack of understanding, or because I disliked her because she was a truly dislikeable person. It reminds me, just a little, of the issues I faced in [a:Joe Abercrombie|276660|Joe Abercrombie|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1207149426p2/276660.jpg]'s First Law series, only he was able to build a sense of complexity that lent itself to compassion. Mara just seems largely incomprehensible, except for the single-minded goal of avenging her family, a fact itself that seems inconsistent with a woman who had left her family for a religious life some time ago.The only spot that the collaboration seemed not to have worked quite as well was the introduction of the cho-ja, the insect-like sentient beings. They played an enormous role in one chapter, and despite "Gaining this new hive would do more to preserve Acoma survival than any dozen clever plots on the High Council," they are only mentioned twice more in the rest of the book. It felt a little intrusive, and when I understood they were of Feist's creation for another aspect of the world, it made more sense. Less for the story, but more sense for the collaboration.One of my largest barriers to enjoyment was Mara's marriage and the subsequent abuse she endured. The cynical part of me wonders if Feist wanted Wurts involved for that perspective alone, and to help legitimize a storyline that was extremely unpalatable. Regardless, my personal issues with that type of plotline are such that I will almost never like a book that involves that kind of abuse, unless done very, very, well. This was not, as it seemed mostly designed to create sympathy for Mara and how her husband was destroying her heritage--sort of. I actually ended up wondering how calculating she really was from the start, which made me like her less. It seemed clear that her intent was all along to kill her husband; to be fair, it seemed none of the choices would have been willing co-rulers, but I'm not sure she ever genuinely tried.I have other small quibbles that I won't go into, save to note they were there. Ultimately, though I read fantasy, this was not my type of sub-genre, so my thoughts are not predisposed to be generous. Two and a half stars.