My favourite cover which best fits the story within
When one thinks of romance, sappy heart filled sentiments with either hot sex (modern paranormal romance) or polite sex (boring romance) a la Mills & Boon style, usually comes to mind. Puke. Romance is not for me… or is it? Turns out one of my all time favourite books is actually a romance.
So before you are put off by the idea of reading a romance book, consider Maia by Richard Adams.
It is subtitled “A heroic romance of love and war in the Beklan Empire” as it was written back in the day where people just didn’t say the word “EPIC!”.
The story follows a fiercely independent young girl called Maia who is sold by her family to slave traders, who then sell her on to be a concubine in a large city awash with lavish parties and political intrigue. Eventually she meets one of the enemies of the city’s corrupt rulers and falls for him. This love is the driving motivation of the main character and the thread that holds together an epic story of empires, politics and war.
What I liked best about the book was the strong female characters. Maia soon discovers the powers she has as a woman and concubine, and couples this with her intelligence to navigate the political dangers which present. She discovers a plot to overthrow the Beklan empire and its corrupt leadership making it necessary for her to flee the collapsing empire. The character is strong and well liked, plus Maia’s friend, Occula is wise in the ways of the world and otherworldly powers, a strong contributing character without overshadowing Maia.
Richard Adams has woven a rich tapestry depicting the gross excesses and luxuries engaged in by the corrupt elite, and contrasted this sharply with the poverty Maia came from as well as her rise in the ranks as a famous and well sought after concubine. It is a suspenseful page-turner which also happens to have some pretty explict adult scenes in it.
When seeking out my own copy of the book (alas, this was yet another one of my uncle’s gems that he wanted back!), I ended up with a secondhand copy with a cover I just absolutely hated. It did not match the excitement of the story well at all.
To this day I am not sure why it was so important to me. I believe the loaned copy of the book I read had such an impact on me it was important to me to preserve that experience in its fullest. The photographed cover is of my much loved copy of Richard Adam’s Maia.