The diary was copied many times and became quite popular during the Golden Age, wherein it was probably rewritten to suit the tastes of the time.
The Diary of the Slave-Girl Lyria is considered an important work of classical literature, and read well into the Sixth Age. It contains much of the information of Marconian life and customs.
According to the text, Lyria was born on one of the last worlds conquered before the Marcon Alliance fell. Having been born into a free life, she begins her diary shortly after her enslavement at the age of 12. It is likely the early events of the diary were recorded later, though told as if in progress. This is theorized because the narration seems entirely too mature for the early chapters.
The diary chronicles how she was captured and processed (the Marcons had an efficient system of distributing new slaves throughout the empire). Lyria's journey lasts nearly a year as she is sold through various processing centers.
She eventually comes into the hands of a wealthy Marconian land-owner in the heart of the empire, who in turn gives her to his son. Bear in mind the Marcons regard women as property, with few uses; but Lyria's final buyer has only one "use" in mind for his son's birthday present.
However, the landowner's son (not named in the tale) does not hold with traditional Marcon beliefs. He keeps Lyria as a friend and companion: treating her with a great deal of respect and dignity, and obviously allowing her to keep the diary.
The tale follows Lyria and the landowner's son through the Gudersnipe Army invasion, and the destruction of the Marcon Alliance. The story provides a unique look at the fall of the Marcon Alliance from the perspective of the Marcons; Lyria writes repeatedly about the anger and frustration of the people around her.
Lyria and the son eventually escape. The son, although a full-blooded Marconian citizen, escapes death because he is mistaken for an escaped slave. He and Lyria leave the Marcon Alliance for one of the newly-freed slave worlds. Though now free to leave him, Lyria stays with the son who has shown her kindness through the years, and consents to marry him; this is the end of the diary.
Questions about Authenticity
The diary was originally written on hand-made paper, and eventually included in the Accepted Histories in the Fourth Age. The oldest known copy dated only to the mid Third Age, leading some to doubt its authenticity. Because each revision often updated its language or made mistakes in the transcription, it is difficult to reconstruct the original.
Herbet Patric Galactis, author of the Accepted Histories, maintains that authenticity is unimportant in the tale of Lyria, which presents an impression of time, whose actual facts are inconsequential when viewed through the human condition. Galactis did extensive research into the story, and while it was impossible to verify as fact, he did find it "consistent with our understanding of the time".
Critics of the diary often point out the incongruity of the landowner's son (believed to have been 16 when he received Lyria) to hold enlightened views. In the tradition of the Marcon Alliance, his beliefs would have been heresy.
The story, they say, probably stems from the Golden Age, probably around the era of the Earth Sphere Unified Nations, when it was popular for writers to present a romanticized view of then-recent history. The story of a Marconian boy who befriended his slave girl and saved her from a lifetime of cruelty would have been viewed as "redeeming" the Marcon Alliance. By that point in history, the borders of the Marcon Alliance were lost, and anything presenting them as other than an evil horde would probably spark curiosity.
Galactis responded to the critics with an alternate hypothesis, based on his interpretation of certain passages in the text, that it may have been heavily edited during the Golden Age; that the son probably partook in his slave, but still kept her with dignity. In her diary, Lyria seems to hint at this notion, but never directly says it. This, combined with her early contempt for the son, Galactis presents as support for his hypothesis.
This revised viewpoint brings the story in line with understood Marconian norms, in that the son may have used his slave for pleasure, but did not mistreat her, and eventually fell in love with her. The diary even talks about him dressing her as a boy in public to take her from his father's estate unshackled, and treat her with dignity in front of others. Only after the Marcon Alliance fell, was he able to truly express his love for Lyria.