Customer Reviews: Oath of Fealty
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VINE VOICEon March 18, 2010
Twenty-two years ago, Elizabeth Moon wrote Sheepfarmer's Daughter (Deed of Paksenarrion), which began the story of Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter, who ran away from a forced marriage to become a mercenary solider. Paks' tale continued in Divided Allegiance (The Deed of Paksenarrion, Book 2) and concluded in Oath of Gold (The Deed of Paksenarrion, Book 3). The entire trilogy was later published as a single volume, The Deed of Paksenarrion: A Novel. The end of the trilogy was very well done, especially for a first novel, but it left any number of loose ends. Paks' "Deed" had left entire countries in disarray.

Moon returned to Paks' world with two prequels, but both were pretty dark. They have never been as popular as "Deed." And, besides, they offered only the barest hints of what happened in Paks' time after the events of "Deed."

Now, at last, with "Oath of Fealty," Moon has returned to the world and time of Paksenarrion. While we have had to wait a very long time to hear the rest of the story, the good news is that Ms. Moon's formidable plotting and writing skills have improved over the years. ""Fealty" is a page turner, even more than "Oath of Gold" was. We follow events across the Eight Kingdoms and even into Aarenis as the impact of Paks' actions spread across her world. The story picks up the evening of Duke Phelan's arrival in Lyonya - the last scene in "Deed" - and follows the very different consequences for the Duke's captains, Dorrin and Arcolin, for the Crown Prince of Tsaia and other major and minor characters from "Deed." Paks herself appears, but she is a relatively minor character in "Fealty," important but not the focus of the story. Despite the lapse of 22 years, the characters and events are consistent; too often, in late-arriving sequels, there are annoying inconsistencies and contradictions. Not here.

According to Moon's blog, this is the first of a projected trilogy. Certainly some of the characters are left in peril at the end of "Fealty," and there are important plot threads left unresolved. But this is a complete novel, just as the books in the first trilogy were. It is also an immensely satisfying read. Dorrin, in particular, is well-written and has moments that the 22-year younger Moon probably could not have written.

Bravo, Ms. Moon. Exceptionally well done. While Moon has written "Fealty" so it can be read without having read "Deed," I suggest that "Fealty" will be much more satisfying if you read "Deed" first.

My very highest recommendation. I very much look forward to the next book.
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on March 17, 2011
I've never read Moon before, so I came at this book without the background of the earlier Paks series.

The book kept me interested enough to read it, which is why it gets 3 stars. But truly, I kept wanting this book to be better, to be more mysterious, to present more *conflict* and tension about what was going to happen to the characters, but that just never developed. To be honest, the book felt a little "workmanlike", as if the author had to put out another book and went through the motions of producing fantasy, but was a little tapped out in terms of truly interesting plot. To her credit, what she does, she does relatively well; but I'm curious as to whether her earlier books showed more passion and fire.

Most of you have probably read plenty of Moon before, so the following is probably old hat: Moon presents a distinctly military approach to writing. She is listed in the book as an "ex marine", and she clearly seems to relish drawing on that background, taking great pains to lay out command and control structures, the life of someone in the military (adjusted to a fantasy setting of course), etc. That's fine: you have to write what you know. I don't find it particularly compelling myself, but I do at least appreciate the fact that here we are dealing with someone who knows what they are talking about. So many fantasy authors romanticize and fantasize warfare and armies without having any concept of the reality behind them.

Where the book falls down for me is that everything is just *too easy* for the main characters, particularly Dorrin. I think the most glaring example of this is that this woman, who has never known anything about magic and who has followed a religion that bans magic, is basically handed super magic powers with nothing more than a page or two of discussion about how they were "awakened" and then trained. From that point on, she is a virtual wrecking ball of magic, effortlessly outdueling entire legions of magic users, magic users who had gained their abilities from hideous human sacrifice rituals. What did Dorrin do? It's like the author needed to find a way to make Dorrin safe from her magic enemies, could think of nothing else, and just decided "hey, she is just a natural magician". Dorrin does not need to learn to control her very powerful magic, there is no cost to her in using it, she does not need to take time to cast spells but instead it just instantly jumps to her use. What fun is that? Go read, say, Stephen Donaldson's White Gold Wielder for an example of the kind of strain and sacrifice a protagonist must endure to have any access to their magic power.

You know what this is like? It's like playing a first-person shooter with the "invulnerable" cheat codes on. Sure, when you're 12 you think it's fun to be able to go through the world infinitely powerful and invulnerable, but it quickly loses its charm because there's no *drama*.

And that's what this book lacked for me: drama. I never felt like there were any real conflicts (the notable exception being the demonic possession of the sargeant in the southern story). Time after time, the protagonists wanted to do something and immediately proceeded to do so. The southern captain wanted to defeat brigands, and everything he did just worked. He was able to manipulate bankers, he was able to outwit bandits and win battles, all seemingly too easy. The protagonists all feel like they have "cheat codes" on.
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on March 19, 2010
I loved the earlier books, in fact have both the individual books and the omnibus edition. Was so excited about this book coming out I pre-ordered it as soon as I could.

Just a heads up, this book isn't about Paks, it is about the many people affected by her actions during the last half of Oath of Gold. Which, I admit, I was very curious about when that book ended!

That said, I really, really wanted to like this book more than I did. It's not that I hated the book, I did like it. I just found the multiple plot lines didn't work for me. I've read other authors who employ this device with much better success (Sharon Shin, Kristen Britain). And one of the reasons they are successful is there are multiple times where two or more of the strands intersect. Here there really wasn't, which made it seem like I was reading four parallel stories instead of one integrated one. I did like each of the stories, Ms. Moon does a great job showing each person's view and making them distinct. I particularly liked Dorrin's story.

As with the first two Paks books, Ms. Moon does leave things open ended with a definite path the next book could follow. And I'll definitely be pre-ordering that one as well because, even without the threads weaving as much as I would like, this was a good read!
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Well I waited many years for this work and I must tell you that for me it was worth the twenty years.
Oath of Fealty begins right where The Deed of Paksenarrion left off. I was one of those many who simply wanted more. I can tell you right off that this work, The Deed, is one of my all time favorite books in this particular genre (fantasy) and indeed, is one of my all time favorite books on any genre so naturally I am quite enthusiastic about it.

I will tell you right off though that Paks, while making a couple of appearances in this work, is missing for the most part as the story follows the adventures of not only Duke Phelan as he takes his rightful place on the thrown of Lyonya, but also the careers and adventures of his Captains, Dorrin and Arcolin. While I found this disappointing at first, I was soon caught up in the tale Ms. Moon is telling and it made little difference in my enjoyment of the continuing story. Many to most of the characters we found in ‘Deed” appear is this work along with many new ones. We come to know and follow the trials and tribulations of the Crown Prince of Tsaia and learn much, much for of the involvement of the Elves.

No make no mistake, the three books making up The Deed of Paksenarrion almost must be read before this work and the next four are read to fully understand and appreciate the story. I suppose they could be read as stand-alone books but it would be difficult and the reader would miss much.

The overriding theme of this work continues to the good verses evil and the question of ethics. What is right? What is wrong? Which path to follow; what choices need be made and when?

Elizabeth Moon’s story telling skills most certainly have not suffered in the twenty years since she last wrote on this subject and her world building skills and imagination have not dimmed one bit with the passing of time.

I have both the printing copy of this book as well as the Kindle version and the Kindle version is formatted quite well.

This book ends perfectly with a set-up for the next in the series...a book I cannot wait to start.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
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on June 6, 2010
A new series begins detailing the lives of several of the characters from the Paks trilogy. Phelan has begun his new life as the ruler of Lyona, which means change to those of his old company.
Captain Arcolin is worried about the new campaign season, and the jobs for the company, when he receives word that he is to act as the leader of the company and take over.
Dorrin Verrakai suddenly finds she has become the Duke of Verrakai, after an assassination attempt against Prince Mikeli. To aid her in this role, she finds she must use the old magic that runs in her family, though it is against the law.
Sergeant Stammel is attacked, and the results mean large changes to him and the company.
As with nearly everything from Ms. Moon, the writing is well done, and the characters are people you can be friends with. In this beginning I enjoyed Dorrin's story best, as she had more powerful challenges to meet and changes to make in her life. Arcolin's story here is more the details in a mercenary captain's job in keeping a company employed, fed and watched over. I expect this will expand in the later novels. Stammel has a huge challenge, and I hope for some further expansion of his life and the effects of those around him.
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I have not followed the career of Elizabeth Moon, but I do realize that a long time passed between the end of Oath of Gold and this novel. Regardless, Moon began this novel as if no time at all had elapsed in her fantasy world. If you judge by the image on the cover of this trade paperback, you might be tempted to think the female pictured there is Paksenarrion. I think it is probably supposed to represent Dorrin instead.

This novel shows how the lives of Kieri, Dorrin, and Arcolin have changed since the ending of the last book and what influence knowing Paks has had on their choices and changes in their situations. This novel follows all of those stories at the same time, but the former comrads are not together at any time. Paks makes appearances throughout the entire novel without actually being the focus of the novel. If you want to read this book simply to catch up with Paks, then you will undoubtedly be disappointed. However, the advances to the overall plot line of the series advances quite substantially even though there is no resolution to the situations of three prominent characters. This is the first in the most recent series of adventures in this fantasy world with Kings of the North: Paladin's Legacy,Echoes of Betrayal: Paladin's Legacy, and Limits of Power (Paladin's Legacy) (releasing in June 2013) coming after.

In the beginning of this novel Elizabeth Moon has written an Author's Note to explain what has come before the action picks up again in this particular book. She says that no one needs to have read the previous books before starting with this one. I would somewhat disagree with that. There are so many references to people, places, wars, and battles from the first three novels that if you aren't familiar with them it can be a little confusing. Also just simply all the names of characters who have been carried over into this re-awakened series can be cause for much head shaking. It took me forever to remember that sib is a drink which equates with our coffee or tea and that is only one of many things I had to try to recollect. I truly enjoyed this novel, but have to admit that the beginning was rather slow moving for me and it took me some time to get truly interested in the characters again. Some of that may have come from having the story presented from so many viewpoints. It may also have been because the characters I enjoyed so much previously by watching their interactions with each other are now separated by geography. Everyone and everything is changing. I do plan to be there to watch it happen.
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on February 12, 2016
Twenty years or so ago, I was introduced to Elizabeth Moon's trilogy about Paksenarrion, a young woman who ran away from a forced marriage to become a mercenary. She then came out with two more Paks books, and then nothing more about Paks or her world. Until now.

Oath of Fealty isn't about Paks, but is about her world, and people we met in the earlier books. Paks visits, now and then, so if you're looking for more about her, you may be a tad disappointed. Moon, an ex Marine, continues to draw upon her military background, adding a touch of realism to her various bands of mercenaries that I find sorely lacking in military stories by people who haven't been there, done that.

Moon creates a world that is believable, populates it with fascinating characters, both light and dark. Her story telling has only grown stronger in the intervening 20 years. Her writing has matured, and if you're ready to begin a 5-book adventure, all I can say is fasten your seat belt and proceed to page 1.

It is not necessary to have read the earlier Paks books in order to enjoy this series.
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on October 6, 2015
I've seen a lot of people write that this book isn't as good as the original Paks books but I totally disagree. I think this book is MUCH better than the original books. Elizabeth Moon's writing seems to have really matured. In the first Paks books, Elizabeth would set up a huge scene and then apparently not knowing how to finish it she would end the epic scene by saying something like "poof and then there was a loud noise and a bright light and something happened that Paks didn't understand and it was over." She doesn't do that in Oath of Fealty. She now describes and resolves the magic and the big events much better. Also, in the first books, she described all of the minutiae to a tedious degree. I mean, seriously, I could cut about 300 pages from the first books of just uneventful and dull descriptions. She doesn't do that as much in this book.

As for the story, it really isn't all about Paks in this book. It's a much broader story with three different "main" parts (Kieri phelan, Dorrin and Arcolin) in which Paks is involved slightly.

4.5 stars. I like it enough to continue with the series but it won't be going down as my favorite book. It's a good "female centric" story though. Thumbs up for powerful female characters in the fantasy genre!
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on April 10, 2015
I am rounding up from four-and-a-half stars to five. This was not the perfect book, but I enjoyed it, and my attention never flagged. The author's heart was certainly on the side of justice instead of mayhem, though there was action and blood-letting. If this were a mystery story, I would call it a "police procedural," as it goes step-by-step through officers of one sort or another carrying out their duties. I must admit I love the way Moon goes into the daily details of her characters' lives, and into the steps of the rituals they perform. She doesn't skip over people's need to defecate, either. (Don't hobbits ever poop?) In fact, in the prequel "Surrender None," Gird's first act as he assembled his army of rebellion was teaching people where to dig their latrines. Moon also steadfastly includes women in the little-boys'-club genre of heroic fantasy; while vanishingly few women have political power in her "Paksworld," the few that do are really strong people, physically and morally. She rejects the Narnian cliche that any female person with authority must be evil and "unnatural." I look forward to the next volume, but I hope this series doesn't go on forever: Moon has already showed readers in "Liar's Oath," the Luap book, that she can be utterly boring and unconvincing, and I'd hate to see that again
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on March 16, 2015
I read this book when it came out a few years ago. The Paksenarrion trilogy was a very good fantasy trilogy. I was pleased that Moon had returned to it after so many years. This book shows the virtues and problems with an author who returns to an earlier work. Moon is a much more mature writer then when she first wrote the trilogy. It shows in the complexity of this new work. However, it is not the clean plot of the earlier work. It consists of three first person story lines. This results in a very long book that can be a trial to the reader. I find only one of the story lines to be really interesting. I would also point out that if you have not read the earlier work this is hard to follow. It is a nice effort, but you really need to be a fan of the trilogy to get the most out of it.
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