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The Deed of Paksenarrion: A Novel (Baen Fantasy) Paperback – February 1, 1992
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
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"This trilogy builds in power and intensity...all the sweep and majesty of the finest heroic fantasy..". -- VOYA
From the Back Cover
Never in our experience has a new author burst upon the sf/fantasy field to such immediate enthusiastic recognition as Elizabeth Moon with her fantasy trilogy, Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold. Now at last we are able to offer all six hundred thousand words of The Deed of Paksenarrion in a single trade edition. Note that because of its size the complete Deed of Paksenarrion will probably never be offered in a mass market edition.
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Top customer reviews
I happened upon a video gaming thread discussing paladins in the latter part of December 2016, where it was mentioned by someone that this trilogy epitomized precisely what a paladin would or should be, from a gaming context. That piqued my curiosity, so I bought the book (in trilogy form). And it occupied my free time for the next few weeks, until I finished it in the early part of January 2017.
To say that I would recommend this book to anyone into the fantasy genre is a significant understatement. I can't recommend it enough. If you're not into fantasy, but are in search of a great tale, you need look no further.
The reader, if they're willing, will be brought upon a high adventure filled with good, evil, humanity, faith, humility and grace that I believe they will relish for the reading journey and beyond.
My only regret is that I hadn't heard of this series before, but now that I know there are other books in "Paksworld", I relish the journey that I'll be taken on in the additional pages of Mrs. Moon's literary narrative. Paks has entered into my "favorite characters" pantheon, alongside Roland of Gilead, Strider/Aragorn, and a few others. If is my hope, for those who read this trilogy, that they enjoy it as much as I, and many others have.
Elizabeth Moon once started thinking about how an RPG paladin would behave in "real life". (The paladin in a role-playing game is "a holy knight, crusading in the name of good and order, and is a divine spellcaster." )
The result of her musings was a series of novels that begins with the trilogy in this omnibus volume: "Sheepfarmer's Daughter", "Divided Allegiance", and "Oath of Gold". The final novel in Paksenarrion's world, "Crown of Renewal", caps a 10-novel series of rich and layered complexity.
Throughout the trilogy, readers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novels will recognize beings and attitudes that populated Middle Earth. Soldiers and travelers mostly get where they are going by walking. Occasionally, nobility and the wealthier merchants and guild members will ride, but only the wounded ride in a cart. Roads leave carts mired in mud and soldiers splashed to the hips whenever it rains. Freezing and wolf-attacks threaten travelers in snowy climes.
Magic-making and religion are closely tied: Wizards and paladins call on their holy heros ("Gird" and "Falk", for example) to access their powers, evil mages evoke direr beings (the spidery webspinner Achrya, for example, or Liart Master of Torments) to call their magics into play. Of course, the higher gods (the Lady of Peace, the High Lord, Adyan the Namer, Sertig the Maker, and so on) behave for the most part as such beings usually do, staying aloof and omniscient from the mortal world once the initial creation is finished.
By the way, you're even more likely to recognize elements of Paksenarrion's world if you are familiar with role-playing a la Dungeons & Dragons. After all, the novels grew out of Moon's rejection of the priggish way most players interpreted the Paladin role. So while Gird's and Falk's paladins have powers that come straight from the defined D&D role, their sense of "good" and "right" is appropriate to Moon's fictional world.
WHAT FOLLOWS CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter is the daughter of sheep-farmer Dorthan Kanasson. Unwilling to marry a local pig-farmer, she runs away to join a mercenary troop. As her recruit cohort marches south to fight in a neighboring country, Paksenarrion (Paks, as her fellow soldiers call her) is unaware of the larger battles that await her.
The lands through which the mercenaries march are troubled: orcs menace them, dark elves threaten them, traitors and evil wizards lay plots that will overturn their planned strategies. Paks must walk the narrow path between the necessary violence of her career as a soldier, and the excesses of cruelty and vengeance that claim some of her fellows—and threaten to overwhelm her commander, Duke Phelan.
Sheepfarmer's Daughter provides plenty of foreshadowing for Paks' development of the qualities of character that will culminate in becoming a paladin of Gird. (Gird is a historical hero/paladin, not worshipped so much as used as a shining example and an intercessor with the higher gods.)
Divided Allegiance continues Paks' growth as a soldier, as she leaves the Duke's command to take training as a knight in the order of Gird. The growth of her character, though, is interrupted by several horrendous experiences that leave her scarred and cringing from every danger. This is a much darker novel than Sheepfarmer's Daughter: humiliation, torture, and even rape are some of the disasters overtake Paks as a "free blade" and failed paladin-candidate.
The final novel of the initial trilogy, Oath of Gold, expands the action from Paks' homeland and the areas of conflict in the south, to the half-eleven kingdom of Lyonya, which is missing a prince. Paks is fully a paladin now, though she was never knighted. Her powers appear to come "directly from the High Lord and the Lady of Peace", among others. Her experiences in the previous novel give her a better understanding of the misery endured by those who do not have the ability to fight for themselves.
At last, her gods "call" her to restore the lost prince to his kingdom, but first Paks must surrender herself to torture by the forces of evil in order to allow the prince—her old commander, Duke Phelan—to gain his throne. The story is thrilling to the end.
A sheepherders daughter has dreams of becoming a soldier, and maybe, even a hero doing great deeds someday. Paksenarrion joins Duke Phalens mercenaries and soon learns that dreams don't come true without years of hard work and experience. She makes true friends,(as well as bitter enemies), and finds that, as much as she admires and is absolutely loyal to the Duke, she can't continue to fight the campaign he is commanding. She leaves with his blessing to get more training to become a knight, or possibly even more.
Evil hates a shining light, and that's what Paks is.
This is an epic story of the battle between good and evil; but more than that, about "real" people and the choices they make for one or the other, and the consequences of their choices.
These characters seem real. The dialog and writing flow, seeming effortlessly, and you become so absorbed in the story, you lose track of time. Possibly an Elf enchantment, but if so, a harmless one. Unless you find that you've read all night, and have to go to work on no sleep.
Be warned. Read when you have hours to spend, or start on Friday afternoon. At least, if you are bespelled as I was, you won't have to explain why you fell asleep during a meeting. You Could try blaming it on Elves...