Guest Post | Empire’s Reckoning by Marian L. Thorpe

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on this blog tour.

Please join me in welcoming Marian Thorpe today as she talks about how the requirement to send presumptive heirs in her novel is based on an actual practice by Ancient Rome and its client kingdoms.

A Child to be Sent

Marian L Thorpe ▪️ Empire’s Reckoning blog tour

Empire’s Reckoning is the fifth title in my series, set in an alternative world based on Europe in early medieval times, from about the decline of Rome to the 10th C. In this scene, the newly arrived Governor from Casil – which is blend of  Rome and Byzantium – has just arrived and begun to assert his authority.

“No doubt,” the Governor agreed. “Now, as to the second directive, is there child to be sent? Or is the Major’s newborn —” He turned to Cillian. “Forgive me. Son or daughter?”

“Daughter,” Cillian said.

“Daughter,” Livius repeated “Is she the only heir? We would not expect her to be sent to Casil to be educated, not for some years.”

Cillian’s jaw tightened almost imperceptibly. “I would hope not.”

“The presumptive heir, Governor, is my daughter’s son, Faolyn.” Casyn said. “He is nine.”

“Of sufficient age,” Livius said. “Can he be ready in ten days, or perhaps less? You may send companions and an escort befitting his rank, of course.” 

He turned to me. “Lord Sorley, the Empress extends an invitation to Linrathe, if your leaders would like a child of their house to also be educated in Casil.”

Livius, the new Casilani governor, isn’t fooling anyone: this ‘invitation’ to send the presumptive heir to Casil for education isn’t an invitation at all, it’s an order. As with almost everything in my books, it has a solid grounding in real history.

In Imperialism, Power, and Identity: Experiencing the Roman Empire, David J Mattingly writes:

“From the Augustan age onward the position of heirs to a client kingdom was increasingly subject to explicit approval by the Emperor. Many client rulers in waiting spent periods within the Roman Empire for education…” (p 77)

Leaders of client kingdoms ‘offered’ their sons as hostages to Rome, to be educated. The best-known historically is Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, who, along with two of his brothers, was educated in Rome, but the practice was widespread. It makes sense, as Cillian points out to Sorley, in this conversation:

“What do you think of this request to send Faolyn to Casil?” I asked.

“Order,” he said, “not request. I am unsurprised: Gnaius told me once it was common practice, to bring the heirs of provinces to the palace to be brought up there.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Educated, he said, in the manners and ways of Casil, although I think indoctrinated might be a better word.”

But in my world, or at least in some countries of my world, women have equal rights with men, and so the Governor suggests Cillian’s newborn daughter, also a possible heir to the leadership, should also be sent to Casil at some point. But, as Sorley points out:

“…Lena will never let Eudekia have her.”

“Nor I,” Cillian said. “She is not to be a piece in the Eastern Empire’s games. I would agree to her going only if Lena and I went with her, to counteract the indoctrination.”

Still, there is a suggestion, based on a coin of the Augustan period, showing a Germanic chieftain offering his baby son to the Emperor, that very small children were indeed sent. Perhaps the motif is only symbolic. I hope so!

Book Description | Empire’s Reckoning

Empire’s Reckoning: Book I of Empire’s Reprise

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.

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About the Author

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 medieval trilogy Empire’s Legacy and the companion novella Oraiáphon, described as ‘historical fiction of another world’, 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. Empire’s Reckoning is the first of a planned trilogy, Empire’s Reprise.

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