Today’s guest is Jane Routley, Aussie author of some great fantasy novels, including two winners of the fantasy section of the Aurealis Award. Jane was a guest on this blog a while back. She has recently released a new novel, Shadow In The Empire Of Light, which looks amazing!
Here is the blurb:
Shine’s life is usually dull: an orphan without magic in a family of powerful mages, she’s left to run the family estate with only an eccentric aunt and telepathic cat for company.
But when the family descend on the house for the annual Fertility Festival, Shine is plunged into dark intrigue; stolen letters, a fugitive spy, and family drama mix with murder, sex and secrets, and Shine is forced to decide both her loyalties and future...
Intrigued? I’ll let Jane tell you all about it!
I wrote Shadow in the Empire of Light because lately, I’ve got a bit fed up with how miserable most of fantasy worlds are for women. The forced marriages, the enslavement, the working in brothels, the dangerous childbirth and -most of all - the endless, endless sexual violence. (Yes I’m looking at you Game of Thrones) I mean pleeease, that’s not fantasy. That’s my reality if I walk through the wrong park late at night.
It seems crazy to me that fantasy should be sexist just because most of human history is.
Maybe I’m reinventing the wheel. There are historical-style fantasies that are female friendly. Elizabeth Moon’s The Deed of Paksenarrion is one of these. I’m hoping readers of this post will suggest others.
You write what you want to read so I thought I’d make the kind of fantasy world I might like to go adventuring in. That’s why I created the Empire of Light.
Some of the principles I followed in my world building:
- Estates and names are passed down along the female line. After all, everyone knows who their mother is. Fathers not so much. (Something which has been a trial for women in our own world since time immemorial) Sure you can and should make provision for your sons, but the farm goes to the daughters.
2. Since the daughters are heirs they also get more power in the marriage game, which is a nice change. Also, since they own the farm, they can have a family without marrying at all. No one minds if they have a husband or not. In a matrilocal society it’s often the woman’s brothers who act as the male parent anyway.
3. Reliable contraception. Women in my Empire of Light only get pregnant if they eat meat. . Vegetarians don’t get pregnant. It’s an idea I got from the animal kingdom
You still have to work out how to protect and provide for your family but since you inherit the property you’re much less likely to fall into the single mum poverty trap.
4. You don’t have to be a tough fighter. I’ve given men and women fairly equal strength so you don’t have to be exceptional to beat the guys in a fight, just as skilled as they are. Anyway, in the Empire of Light, magic -which is gender neutral - is the real source of power.
5. I’m tired of slut shaming too. Women can be as chaste or as promiscuous as they want to be and no one is going to call them names. It’s amazing how often women still get shamed in fantasy books (or in real life for that matter) for even mild sexual misbehaviour. Just be respectful to people, folks.
6. I’m tired of insults being feminine. In the Empire of Light there are no bitches or cows or any insults called after female body parts. There are pigs, rats and, if you’re feeling really annoyed, roosters.
Of course, a truly equal society would not favour either sex in terms of inheritance or in any other way. In Shadow in the Empire of Light, however, mothers do prefer to have daughters and I know that’s sexist. But it was so nice to make adventures in world where I was the winner, rather than the second-place-getter, that I went with it.
Jane’s other books are also available on Amazon, if you look her up there under her name, or you can get them in ebook on Apple Books.