Empire's Reckoning: Empire's Reprise, Book I
By Marian L Thorpe
How many secrets does your family have?
For 13 years, Sorley has taught music alongside the man he loves, war and betrayal nearly forgotten. But behind their calm and ordered life, there are hidden truths. When a young girl’s question demands an answer, does he break the most important oath he has ever sworn by lying – or tell the truth, risking the destruction of both his family and a fragile political alliance?
Empire’s Reckoning asks if love – of country, of an individual, of family – can be enough to leave behind the expectations of history and culture, and to chart a way to peace.
"Why are there so many secrets in this family?"
That was a difficult question for Lord Sorley to answer, for there were many secrets. But the most damning secret was about him. How could he tell Gwenna that her father had stolen his heart when he was just a boy of sixteen?
Time slips by unnoticed but Sorley remembered everything – the gentle touch, an all to fleeting look. Comiádh Cillian had stated many times that Lena was the love of his life, but they all knew he could not live without his Sorley.
It had been a time of change, of coming together for the greater good, but the road to unity was thwarted with difficulties, it still was, and not every kingdom was as tolerant as the one Lena came from. If it were known that Cillian had feelings for a man then his career, his achievements, would count for nothing. And so, what was between them must remain forever a secret. But how can Sorley look into Gwenna's eyes and lie? Dare he trust her with the truth?
From a young woman's questions to the story of one man's life, Empire's Reckoning: Empire's Reprise, Book I by Marian L Thorpe is a book in a million.
Oh, this story. It has everything a reader can dream of and then some. I adored every word, every sentence every syllable. This is a delectable read from the opening sentence to that final full stop. I am so glad this is a series because I am not ready to leave this world and these characters, just yet.
The powerful, unquenchable and undeniable nature of love is explored in all of its exquisite detail. This is not a story of unrequited love, nor is it one of desperate pining, Lord Sorley's life is not put on hold because he loves where society says he should not. He does, instead, forge a life for himself and achieve his goals. However, he is influenced by that love, and although anger drives him away from it for a time, he cannot run from it forever. Lord Sorley is one of those characters whose depiction is so fabulously real in the telling that it seems almost cruel that he never lived. Lord Sorley, who is the narrator of this story, is a protagonist that one cannot help but adore. His struggle, his success, and his desperate desire to do the right thing make him all the more endearing. This novel could have so easily been a tragic love story, but it isn't. Lord Sorley laments for what he cannot have, of course he does, but he is also very accepting of what he can have, and I think that is what endeared him to me so much.
A relationship that I was interested in throughout this novel was between Lord Sorley and Lena. They are both in love with the same man, and Cillian cannot live without either of them. This could have been a massive recipe for disaster, but Lena is a character that has gone through a great deal – if you have not read her story in the Empire's Legacy series then I highly recommend that you do. Lord Sorley and Lena have to find a middle ground, in which both of them can live with. Thorpe approached this relationship with a great deal of care and understanding.
One may be mistaken in thinking Empire's Reckoning: Empire's Reprise, Book 1 is just another love story, but it is not – it is an adventure, it is a journey, it is an absolutely wonderful book that swept me away in its brilliance. Thorpe certainly knows how to entertain her readers, and this novel is written with a great deal of imagination and energy. It is vivid. It is astoundingly ambitious, but in all ways, it is an absolute triumph. I cannot praise this book enough. The narrative is enthralling. The prose is lyrically pleasing — this is a book that keeps on giving. It is immensely readable and is a reward for any reader.
This story is told through two different timelines, which I thought was masterfully executed. It certainly made for an enthralling read. I loved learning the truth along with Gwenna – on the face of it Lord Sorley is a gifted musician, a loyal friend, but he is like still waters, he runs deep. By using the two timelines, we learn so much about him that it is as if he becomes an old friend. There is a very intimate feel to this novel which I thought was simply brilliant.
Thorpe has a novelist's intuition into the human soul – her depiction, not only of Lord Sorley, but the other characters in this book, are vivid, and filled with an intuitive empathy towards their plights. It was a real pleasure to read about them, to get to know them. Thorpe is the master at portraying characters that stay with the reader long after the last page is turned. Bravo, Ms Thorpe. Bravo Indeed.
The world that Thorpe depicts is a fantasy one where social decorum's, and the dangerous world of political uncertainly and fragile alliances is explored in detail. The backdrop of this story is enthused with a tangible realism. This is a world that is very easy to imagine and become immersed in.
Empire's Reckoning: Empire's Reprise, Book I by Marian L Thorpe is a book that demands to be read again and again. This is a novel that is deserving of a place in your heart and on your bookcase for the simple reason that no one writes Historical Fantasy the way Thorpe does.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
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Marian L Thorpe
Not content with two careers as a research scientist and an educator, Marian L Thorpe decided to go back to what she’d always wanted to do and be a writer. Author of the alternative world medieval trilogy Empire’s Legacy, Marian also has published short stories and poetry. Her life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history informs her novels, while her avocations of landscape archaeology and birding provide background to her settings. As well as writing and editing professionally, Marian oversees Arboretum Press, a small publishing imprint run as a collective. Marian is currently writing Empire’s Reckoning, the next book in her series.