The Lord-Protector’s Daughter by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
According to the publisher’s blurb, The Lord-Protector’s Daughter is a “standalone fantasy.” Um… no. It most certainly is not. It’s book seven in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s COREAN CHRONICLES and while it’s true that it begins a new story that takes place a couple hundred years after the events of book six, it is the first part of a story that will be at least a duology set in Corus. So, you’re not going to get the full story about Mykella, its protagonist, unless you read its sequel, Lady Protector. I don’t know what that Tor publicist was thinking when (s)he wrote “standalone,” but The Lord-Protector’s Daughter doesn’t qualify.
Oh, and this review will spoil a little of the previous “CHOICE” trilogy.
Mykella and her sisters are the daughters of the Lord-Protector of Lanachrona and descendants of Mykel, who became the first Lord-Protector at the end of book six, Soarer’s Choice. The Alectors are gone, the Soarers are gone (or so people think) and the power that remains of what the long-lived Alectors used to hold is now held by a race of humans who breed and herd the Nightsheep. (We know of these folks from the first trilogy of the COREAN CHRONICLES).
Mykella’s father is a weak Lord-Protector. She helps him a little by watching over the finances. One of her sisters practices the arts of war, though she is not allowed to join the military because she’s a woman and this is a patriarchal society. Their other sister cares nothing for finances or military tactics. She’s all about fashion, balls, and making a “match” with a desirable suitor. Her preference is her cousin, though her family does not approve. Their father is working on making political alliances for each of them, and the girls worry about where and with whom they may be shipped off.
As she is working on the ledgers, Mykella discovers that someone is skimming money from the treasury. Then, one of the ancient Soarers (who haven’t been seen in generations), appears to Mykella and tells her that she can save her country from disaster if she will discover her powers. Thus, Mykella goes on two quests — one to find the embezzler, and the other to discover and hone her powers.
To be blunt about it, The Lord-Protector’s Daughter is boring. Especially so if you’ve read the previous COREAN CHRONICLES books because they follow the same repetitive format. Most of the plot involves Mykella getting up in the morning, “washing up,” putting on her black clothes (which are unusual for a girl, we’re told), going to the breakfast room to have breakfast with her sisters (it is usually mentioned in which order the sisters arrive each morning), eating egg toast or ham slices (we’re always told what temperature these are), going to the office to study the ledgers, spending time spying on potential enemies by looking at the magic table, and going to bed. Seriously, this cycle occurs over and over and over throughout the 12 hour audiobook version.
A few dramatic events occur to break up the routine a little. There are a couple of attacks, a couple of poisonings and, at the end, a couple of tragic deaths. The ending was actually interesting enough to make me pick up the next book, but the rest could have easily been condensed by half and it would have been better. I felt like the story was being stretched to fill the space and if I’d been reading a print version, I would have started skimming.
It’s obvious that Mykella is being set up to lead the government (notice the title of the sequel) while one of her sisters is likely being set up to lead the military. If that turns out to be the case, they will mirror the roles played by Mykel and Dainyl, the two protagonists of the previous trilogy. Again, this feels repetitive, like a feminist version of the previous COREAN CHRONICLES trilogy.
While I appreciate the feminist slant, I do wish that we could see women rising to power because of the recognition of their inherent normal strengths rather than the arbitrariness of owning a deadly magical power that everyone else is afraid of. To be fair, Mykella and her sister are strong competent women, but they would never have obtained power without Mykella’s magic. Also, to be fair, perhaps it is more important for Mykella to prove her worth as a leader rather than to worry about how she actually got the power in the first place. The end may justify the means in this case.
Kyle McCarley continues to narrate Tantor Audio’s version of this series. He does a little better with the female voices in this book (I didn’t like his voices for the women in the previous books), but I would have preferred a female narrator.
“To be blunt about it, The Lord-Protector’s Daughter is boring.” I think you summed it up.
Mykel/Mykella… no clue there about Mykella’s destiny!
As a long time Modesitt fan I will be the first to admit that some of his books are just….boring. The Imager series is replete with them. The worst part is when L.E. is on his social/political/environmental soapbox!!
I do appreciate that he regularly writes strong female characters. It’s a very welcome reminder of what we all know….men and women are all capable of great things and great leadership.
Agreed, John. He does write strong female characters.
I don’t think I could take all those scenes of the same breakfast over and over. This is actually a failing of paranormal YA right now too. “I put on my left sock. Then I put on my right sock.”
“Gah! Why can’t I break out of these hidebound traditions! I’ll put on my right sock first this time! I will! I will, I— ahhhh! I can’t!” (Puts on left sock.)