63232616A boy of the night-time streets. A girl of libraries and learning.

Druisius, the son of a merchant, is sixteen when an order from his father that he can neither forgive nor forget drives him from home and into the danger and intrigue of the military.

Eudekia, a scholar’s daughter, educated and dutiful, is not meant to be a prince’s bride. In a empire at war, and in a city beset by famine and unrest, she must prove herself worthy of its throne.

A decade after a first, brief meeting, their lives intersect again. When a delegation arrives from the lost West, asking Eudekia for sanctuary for a princess and support for a desperate war, Druisius is assigned to guard them. In the span of a few weeks, a young captain will capture the hearts of both Empress and soldier in very different ways, offering a future neither could have foreseen.

A stand-alone novel that can also serve as a second entry point into the Empire’s Legacy series.

Source Format Pages Publisher Genre Publication Date
author eARC 458 Arboretum Press Historical Fantasy December 13th, 2022

A stand-alone novel that can also serve as a second entry point into the Empire’s Legacy series.” – and that it is! If you have not read any of the novels in the Empire’s Legacy series yet, then this would serve as a nice teaser. Yes, Empress & Soldier is a story particularly about Empress Eudekia and soldier Druisius but secondary characters make a play here that have the primary role in the preceding books. Actually, this whole series Marian has written, DOES NOT have secondary characters – well, sure, they do, but… – all of the characters feel so important and by the gods, you will like them all… Like I do. These books are like that Netflix show you just can’t help but binge and when it’s over, you feel sad. There’s an emptiness in your day now where the show, or in this case, this book, was.

We were part of something so much larger than our lives, holding a responsibility to history and the future.

Not to brag, but I have read the Empire’s Legacy books and stories from day dot. I have been there with the characters through absolute heaven and hell and so it is, that I know of Druisius already, before this current book. I am so glad Marian told his story. Druise immediately feels like a friend, that is, unless you’re on the opposing side. He’s not an evil man, though, he does what is ordered and yet, he doesn’t hurt for fun… er… well, yeah XD maybe he does. But what it means in its enitirety, I’ll leave for you to find out! Muahahahaha…. Anyway, Druisius may come across like someone you do not want to cross but if you’re a decent human being, you have nothing to fear from him. In fact, he would do anything to set things right. In fact, out of all the other male characters that the series has introduced to the reader, I would say Druisius is the one who does the most dirty work and yet comes across the most cheerful, somehow. Simply put, I love him!

Empress Eudekia… I had a glimpse of this character in a previous book. Actually, a scene from a previous book takes place in this book as well, but rightly, from a different point of view. I have to admit, it was gut wrenching to relive it again, and yet so interesting because I did end up with a certain view about the Empress before but maybe now I am a bit more understanding… I love how the Empress side of the story truly put the political intrigue and court life into use. So complicated, so difficult and yet the diplomacy in this book, whilst serious, was bloody fun to read about. Marian is a masterful writer when it comes to getting the nitty gritty details just right…

Emperor of Casil. Father of the Casilani. The words from his investiture echoed in my mind. How did a man choose between his family and his people?

As always, Marian delivers from every aspect of the book. What I have always liked about this series, is that there’s no shock factor twists just for the sake of delivering a twist. The phenomenon that we know of as ‘the twist’ has become a bit of a crutch, I think… as if a good story cannot exist without a jaw-dropping reveal. Nothing wrong with a good moment of ‘I did not see that one coming’, and I am not saying that Marian doesn’t drop surprises throughout the story and series, but they’re not over the top. I love how Marian’s writing is solid, steady and, I believe I have said it before, I can trust it. I can trust that everything will be resolved with the right amount of diplomacy and integrity.

So, where should you start? Start from Empress & Soldier, or go back to the very beginning and start with Empire’s Daughter – just start from somewhere! I promise you, once you get stuck into this story, you will experience alternative, historical fiction like never before. What else is in it for you? Cultures that are rich with different societal norms, explorations of duty and responsibility, all-conquering love that is respectful and quietly healing, ambitions and fears, clever chesspiece moves in the royal court, men loving men, women loving women, women and men loving each other… Simply fulfilling and glorious!

Wanting more brings the wrong sort of pain.