But She Raped A Priest: Thoughts on Empress of Mijak

If you’ve ventured onto the Goodreads page for Karen Miller’s Empress of Mijak (if not you can find it here) you’ll see the ratings swing to both extremes without much in the middle. People either loved it or rated it unreadable.

There were parts of the book I really enjoyed. The cultural aspects are so different and bold compared to usual high fantasy fare, the magic system was well thought-out and expertly manipulated. The part of the book I really didn’t enjoy, and seems to be the sticking point with most of the critics, is the protagonist, Hekat. It seems not even people who loved the book like Hekat. For me she was a serious impediment to getting involved in the story, and this itself was an annoyance as I quite enjoyed the story and would have liked to be more involved.

On behalf of everyone who doesn’t fancy Hekat, I drew a picture of her about to rape some priests (which she does several times over the course of the book, and religious or not I think we can all agree that rape is a no-no):

empressimpressions

This picture, for me, pretty much sums up the book. I generally liked it and would rate it above average for a high fantasy novel. But there was an awful lot of unnecessary blood – if you’ve heard this week’s podcast then the quote I used for Empress of Mijak was one that made me laugh aloud at how fatuous the level of blood sacrifice had become – and Hekat is never once truly reprimanded for her actions.

You know what? That makes a lot of sense. Hekat’s villainy is a constant wear on our need for justice to be served. It never is, and that’s what causes the backlash against the story. Hmmmm.

Just stop raping, Hekat. Please stop raping.

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About Anneque D. Machelle

Anneque "Dangerpus" Machelle (rhymes with ranger wuss) is a rebel and a rogue from way out west. Strictly banned from interactions with other human beings, she spends her days amongst molluscs, dogs and lizards, whom she counts as her closest friends.

Posted on January 19, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Here is hoping that the protagonists of the next two books will be more likeable than Hekat. I am sure you’ll sympathise with at least one =)

    Yes, she was unlikeable, but having the childhood she had would leave some mental scarring. It felt like the issue was if she would let her past life drag her down, or find a way to rise above it. She didn’t, bucking the ‘redemption’ story.

    I am not sure if she could even be called an anti-hero. She walked the knife edge of protagonist/antagonist the whole story, until she finally toppled and became a fully-fledged antagonist.

    Will be very interested in your thoughts on ‘The Riven Kingdom’. Veeeeery interested =)

    • It’s good to hear your opinion on it. Hekat’s just such a lousy person! Gosh, she’s so horrible. Well, like you say, she became entirely antagonistic by the end of the story. Probably earlier than that – even by the first quarter mark she wasn’t doing anyone any favours. Granted it wasn’t until the whole Nagarak rape thing that she became totally twisted and demented and bent on destroying everybody.

      I quite liked Zandakar, if only because he really was one of the only likeable characters in the story. It would be good to see him have a decent role in the next books. But what I really want to know is if there’s some secret behind the god driving all this. It sounds like there is, and that secret sounds pretty cool.

      At your recommendation, I did cave in and buy ‘The Riven Kingdom’. Hope it’s good or I may have to go Hekat on you and make you wear the book cover as pants. XD

  2. I think the Karen Miller wanted Hekat to be likeable/unlikeable, sometimes we get so many novels that when they portray the villain, we always agree or somehow understand why they do what they do. I liked Hekat because she was real, everything she did was what she thought was exactly what she should be doing, she believed that it was her destiny, and honestly what other antagonist/protagonist have we seen that truly believes what they were doing is right (whether or not they really were).Anyway in Riven Kingdom she is seen as the true Antagonist, pretty much we get characters that we can like who fit the role we are much more used to, and i really think Riven Kingdom was a pretty great book.

    • Thank you for your well thought-out comment.
      Hekat certainly has appeal as an antagonist. I think what I found stifling about her as a protagonist is that such a huge portion of the book, maybe the first 80%, is really just Hekat. And after a while I just got tired of her as a character when there was nothing I could relate to in her. She was certainly planned well, certainly believable. But almost inhuman in her actions.

      But that said, you’re right. Everything she did was based on what she felt was necessary. And everything seemed to be supported by the god. So maybe in that light, she’s not so much an antagonist until the end, where she really loses it a bit.

      Thanks again. I have the Riven Kingdom there waiting to be read.

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