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Andrea K Höst

Australian writer of science fiction and fantasy.
Flora Segunda  - Ysabeau S. Wilce Flora is preparing for her fourteenth birthday, when she will be legally an adult and will enter a military academy, as is the tradition of her family, the Fyrdraacas. Flora wants to be a ranger (a kind of mage spy), but sees no way out of her future, since her mother (the General) is something of a steamroller personality, fully expecting Flora to follow in her footsteps. Indeed, Flora is already following in the footsteps of the first Flora, her same-named sister who died in a war which saw Califa become a vassal-state of an overwhelming empire.Flora is also maid-of-all-work in her home (a massive magical mansion of thousands of picturesquely named rooms, of which the family only uses a few), since her mother has banished the magical servant which would usually maintain the rooms. On top of school, chores, and preparation for her birthday, Flora needs to keep an eye out for her father, who suffered a breakdown during the war and now vacillates between mournful isolation and mad ranting.Unhappy and tired of her situation, Flora encounters the remnant of the magical servant and begins a process to restore him, an act which will have Consequences.The worldbuilding in this story is immense (with hints that Califa might be California, and that the Empire some kind of Aztec equivalent), but delivered well, and Flora has an engaging voice and an unhappy situation. At the same time I had a lot of difficulty getting into the story, and kept putting the book down till I was a little over halfway through, when things picked up considerably.Flora lacks any sign of female friends, and is one of those protagonists who wears blinkers, making her not consider certain possibilities (including being oblivious of any possibility of sex and boy-girl situations, despite near-kisses with the servant and a very close friendship with a boy). The magical servant is completely unsympathetic, which I think was at least part of the reason I stalled out reading this a few times, but the rest of the world was very interesting.Will check out the next book in the series.