Indeed, she stuck to a relatively benign depiction with Averie's father, the eponymous general, as the mostly-benevolent governor of Chiarrin who is happy to leave the natives to live their own lives so long as his country gets the resources they came for (mostly an open port strategically placed to oppose the Continental European analogs). I groaned when (view spoiler)I learned of the "Broken Gods" of the Chiarrizi, for example, because if ever there were a belief system setup to throw off powerful imperialists they were these.
Averie, daughter of Aeberelle's military leader, goes by ship with her chaperone, Lady Selkirk, to dry, dusty Chiarrin, the latest conquest of Aeberelle's empire, to be with her father and her fiancé, Colonel Morgan Stode. While General Winston's Daughter is easily linked to the old British Empire's colonialist expansion, it can just as easily refer to any other empire: French, Spanish, Roman, American. The beautiful thing about General Winston's Daughter is how it portrays both sides, how through Averie's open-minded and understanding perspective we can sympathise with the Chiarizzi who only want to be free and defend themselves against invaders. The tantalising glimpses of the culture and city are fascinating, with the meanings behind colour (blue and green mean you are engaged), the broken gods and the fierce, determined people. Written in a style similar to books like Shinn's The Shape-changer's Wife and Patricia McKillop's Alphabet of Thorn, both intimate and distant, not omniscient nor directly the voice of the main character, General Winston's Daughter has that gentle touch of observing without disturbing. Superbly written, General Winston's Daughter is an absolute gem.
My least favorite book that Ive read from Shinn so far. However, here the romance was at the annoying level (even if the love triangle functioned more as a symbol of rejecting one culture and embracing the Oppressed, than an actual romance), and I also felt something I havent felt in any of Shinns other books: that it was written down to a younger (teen girl) audience. Good thing shes insanely wealthy.) About three-quarters of the way through, I was really fed-up with the whole thing.
However, she finds at the end that no matter how much she herself may love this fascinating country, it does not necessarily love her back - because it hates the people who have conquered it and must throw them off at all costs.
Averie's country is an imperial giant, and the beginning of the book sees her travelling overseas to the colony where her father and fiance are stationed. Through the different characters, the readers get ideas from both sides of imperialism (those that benefit, those that are overcome). I thought that idea, as well as Averie's gradual realization that imperialism isn't a one-sided, all-benefit situation was really well presented to the reader. Now, as to why I gave this book 3 1/2 stars, the ending was a bit disappointing to me, particularly where a certain character was concerned (you'll have to read it to see what I mean). It was a very enjoyable book, but I have read better.
Much like her Twelve Houses books, General Winstons Daughter combines politics with a fantasy setting. The story is a fairly simple one on the outsetAverie Winston is traveling with her chaperon to the foreign country of Chiarrin to meet with her father, the General, and her fiance, an up and coming soldier under her fathers supervision. It was in her best interests to want to be more ladylike so she could help the man she claimed to have loved all these years. In a longer book, or even a series, this may have made more sense so we could see the full weight of what the occupation caused, but in a YA novel it seemed out of place and jarring.
(view spoiler) I think it's very brave of Averie and Morgan to admit that they are ill-suited and better off not getting married. Frankly, it felt as if the only reason to break them up in this way was to avoid drama and make Averie available to Ket. If she had admitted that she loved another man, then that would have been different. But claiming that because of a few different opinions they should break off their engagement after she herself says she's loved him for years was disappointing.
Throughout the story, there are polite attempts to bring to the imperialists' attention that perhaps their presence isn't wanted despite any good they can do. In the story's climax, there are no parleys or rational negotiation, and the imperialists' violence is matched and exceeded in ferocity. The relationship was real and would never have worked without the main character's maturation throughout the course of the story, and the romance gained strength rather like the incoming tide--inexorably, but so slowly it was almost difficult to see.
Ive been writing stories and poems since I was eight years old. It requires a pretty obsessive-compulsive personality to be as prolific as Ive been in the past ten years and hold down a full-time job. I love certain TV shows so much that knowing a new episode is going to air that night will make me happy all day.