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Sheepfarmer's Daughter (The Deed of Paksenarrion Trilogy, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1988
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The Hero herself is never interested in sexual relations so other than brief mentions of subject it isn't an issue in the story. There are no explicit sex scenes; however, the hero is assaulted, beaten, and raped early in the stories. Though it isn't detailed, thankfully, as a sex scene might be, it is a subject matter that some may find difficult. For the hero it is one of several defining moments. The author, a woman, took great care to present a hard topic rarely truly included in such stories, and handled it in a way that benefit the story without making lite of the subject or being overly offensive. And that is only a chapter or two of the dozens that will entice and ensnare your mind in this series.
I also appreciated the slow rise to fame we see. usually when we get the story of how a legend was born, we get one amazing feat and they are crowned as a hero. Here, the main character succeeds in a vital task, and doesn't even get a promotion, just a good reputation. The years of experience required to become a veteran actually take time. Very cool.
It is not a fast moving epic where we are privy to all of the politics and reasons behind what's going on. Much like a soldier in areal fantasy army, we get glimpses, conjecture, rumors, orders, and try to surmise what is happening. After inventorying the plunder, of course. It's really different, and interesting. To me, at least.
The pages turn easily, if you know what I mean; I didn't find myself spacing out and rereading pages or forcing myself through any parts of it. The characters feel real and are endearing or easy to hate, depending on which side they work for. It isn't overly mystical, but does involve magic. And, most importantly, the magic and divine intervention isn't a dues ex machina device, it just deepens the characters, stories, and plot. Also, the mystical creatures aren't hackneyed or stereotypical, it doesn't feel like Lord of the Rings fanfic. The mystical creatures don't really even play much of a role in the story at all, actually, it's primarily humans with a touch of the gods.
I'd say Paks, our protagonist, is sort of a Joan of Arc cast into a magical realm instead of a Christian one, who (spoiler alert) isn't brutally murdered at the end of the story. And who doesn't love Joan of Arc? Read it, it's wonderful. An adventure worth experiencing.
While it isn't as in-depth as, say, Traitors Son Cycle, when it comes to accurate medieval warfare, it is still refreshing to see things done right. Good immersion.
The story keeps just enough focus on the characters inner thoughts to keep me satisfied, while still giving clear descriptions of terrain and action ( something important for military fantasy, IMO )
Now, on to read the next one!
Paks learns that a warrior's life is different from what she expected. She is a humble, ferocious fighter. She experiences lots of turmoil and perseveres. Elizabeth Moon does an excellent job with characters and their inner struggles.
If you like swordplay and battle strategy, this book is a good read. There are some graphic scenes of torture which surprised me. Moon doesn't really write like that in her other series.
Amazon, please make these books available on Kindle.