|The Deed of Paksenarrion is a compendium volume
of Elizabeth Moons first three novels, Sheepfarmers Daughter, Divided
Allegiance and Oath of Gold, reprinted to coincide with the release
of the first sequel to those books, Oath of Fealty, after twenty one years.
As a first work this book is something to be proud of: the story hangs together well, has
fully developed and believable characters, and a finely paced plot.
As would be expected
from Ms Moons military background The Deed of Paksenarrion is a
military-based yarn, which is told from the point of view of a new recruit: all wide-eyed
and innocent. But for those who make baulk at that bald summary, the story is about
Paksenarrions growth as a person and a soldier; the wars and the fighting are only
there as the stage for that growth to be possible. And grow she does.
The Deed of Paksenarrion inevitably draws comparisons to other
military-based fantasy stories. For reasons I cant explain the closest parallel for
me is Glen Cooks Black Company sequence, the early volumes
of which were written five to six years before The Deed of Paksenarrion;
and which showed soldiering from the subalterns perspective.
If I have any complaints of Ms Moon they are that her recruit characters are without
guile or cynicism (she served in the US Marine Corps this may be a common trait of
volunteers), technology is firmly rooted in the fantasy world pre-industrial, and her
armies are so small. But these are mainly the quibbles of a history-phile and not a slur
on her writing.
This is a very good read and should definitely grace the shelves of any fan of fantasy
adventures. While for reasons of safety, the book weighs in at a kilogramme at least, I
wouldnt recommend this as a book for reading in bed, read it you should.