In Empire’s Daughter, men and women lead very separate lives, the women living together, primarily in farming and fishing villages, the men in mandatory military service. Male children are taken at age 7 to begin military training; girls are educated in their own villages, and then apprentice to a trade. Where did these ideas come from?
There isn’t one source, one society that I borrowed from. The idea of male children being taken at seven into military training is from the social structure of the ancient city-state of Sparta, where exactly that happened. Spartan boys were basically cadets until age 20, when they took on greater responsibility in the military; they could marry at 30, but did not live with their wives, but stayed with their military comrades in barracks….and that was the germ of the idea of the men and women living almost completely separate lives, except for a couple of weeks each year.
The Roman Empire’s military structure also influenced how I envisioned the lives of men in the Empire. Roman soldiers served 25 years in the military, and could not (officially) marry unless they were of officer class, although they often formed permanent relationships with local women. But again, it was that sense of a primarily masculine life that influenced how the men live in Empire’s Daughter.
The lives of women were influenced by a number of sources: Icelandic and Viking women, for one, where women frequently were completely responsible for farming and fishing and all the other work while the men were at sea, either fishing (Iceland) or raiding (Vikings). The apprenticeship of girls at twelve to a trade is simply based on long practice throughout much of the world, for both boys and girls: even my own grandfather was apprenticed at age twelve to a coal merchant in England, in about 1896. (The photo is from England, c 1915-1920)
Now, as to why there is this tiny, isolated Empire at the edge of the world, underpopulated and ring-fenced by the Wall, the mountains and the sea….well, to say more would need a big SPOILERS alert. You’ll have to read the books to find out!
Empire’s Daughter, book one of the Empire’s Legacy series, is currently available from Amazon in e-book format or paperback. Look for book 2, Empire’s Hostage, around June of 2017!
Roman soldier picture: By Pablo Dodda (Flickr: Roman Soldiers) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Woman blacksmith picture: Bain News Service; taken in England c 1915-20; courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. No known copyright restrictions.