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Paksenarrion #3-5

The Deed of Paksenarrion

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The Deed of Paksenarrion revolves around the life of Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter, known as Paks. It takes place in a fictional medieval world comprised of kingdoms of humans, dwarves, and elves. The story begins by introducing Paks as a headstrong girl of 18, who leaves her home (fleeing a marriage arranged by her father) to join a mercenary company. Through her journeys and hardships she comes to realize that she has been gifted as a paladin. The novel was originally published in three volumes in 1988 and 1989 and as a single trade edition of that name in 1992. The three books included are The Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance and Oath of Gold.

From publisher Baen: "Paksenarrion, a simple sheepfarmer's daughter, yearns for a life of adventure and glory, such as was known to heroes in songs and story. At age seventeen she runs away from home to join a mercenary company and begins her epic life . . . Book One: Paks is trained as a mercenary, blooded, and introduced to the life of a soldier . . . and to the followers of Gird, the soldier's god. Book Two: Paks leaves the Duke's company to follow the path of Gird alone—and on her lonely quests encounters the other sentient races of her world. Book Three: Paks the warrior must learn to live with Paks the human. She undertakes a holy quest for a lost elven prince that brings the gods' wrath down on her and tests her very limits."

1040 pages, Paperback

First published February 1, 1992

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About the author

Elizabeth Moon

186 books2,393 followers
Elizabeth Moon was born March 7, 1945, and grew up in McAllen, Texas, graduating from McAllen High School in 1963. She has a B.A. in History from Rice University (1968) and another in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin (1975) with graduate work in Biology at the University of Texas, San Antonio.

She served in the USMC from 1968 to 1971, first at MCB Quantico and then at HQMC. She married Richard Moon, a Rice classmate and Army officer, in 1969; they moved to the small central Texas town where they still live in 1979. They have one son, born in 1983.

She started writing stories and poems as a small child; attempted first book (an illustrated biography of the family dog) at age six. Started writing science fiction in high school, but considered writing merely a sideline. First got serious about writing (as in, submitting things and actually getting money...) in the 1980s. Made first fiction sale at age forty--"Bargains" to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword & Sorceress III and "ABCs in Zero G" to Analog. Her first novel, Sheepfarmer's Daughter, sold in 1987 and came out in 1988; it won the Compton Crook Award in 1989. Remnant Population was a Hugo nominee in 1997, and The Speed of Dark was a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and won the Nebula in 2004.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 732 reviews
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,811 followers
October 5, 2015
I want to say first that I've read hundreds if not thousands of books and the largest percentage of them are probably fantasy. I love this book and rate it as one of my top 3 or 4 favorite novels. I can't recommend it too highly. I really don't think I can recommend it highly enough. Please read this book. I keep multiple copies on my shelf and have loaned out (read given away) many copies. This one is great.

I read the omnibus edition of this book. It’s actually a trilogy. The Deed of Paksenarrion contains Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold. I find it a truly exceptional high fantasy read. I rate it five stars as it’s in many ways (in my opinion of course) the best of it’s type. In a time when “attempts” at epic fantasy are a dime a dozen, a good (or great) one should be noticed.

I don’t want to include any spoilers in this (and I know some actually look for them)***(note that I edited in a spoiler tag below. I decided that I had included a spoiler and came back to hide it under a warning. You may want to read the book before you read the part I hid.)*** but, let me mention what the book is actually about. It follows the life and career of a young woman who wants to be a soldier (the author Elizabeth Moon was military) from her beginning training throughout her life *****I came back and edited in a spoiler tag, I decided something I said here is sort of a spoiler.*****

I have read this book (trilogy) many times and love it. It compares well to the “proto-epic fantasy", The Lord of the Rings, and I can and do recommend it (as well as The Lord of the Rings) highly. As I said, I can't recommend it highly enough. Great Book. I own all the books in print and audio versions. Highest possible recommendation.

As noted above, this omnibus edition contains:
Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold.

One of my top favorites, 5 stars+.
Profile Image for Ron Davis.
45 reviews11 followers
March 20, 2008
This is in my opinion the best fantasy novel ever. I actually read all three of the individual books before this omnibus came out, but they are really one complete story.

It has fantasy elements done in a deep way I haven't seen anywhere else. If you want to understand Paladins, this is the place to do it. If you want to get an idea of how a God or gods could use someone's life through pain and trial, this is the book.

Did I say it was the best fantasy novel ever? Go read it now.
Profile Image for Nicholas Kotar.
Author 38 books252 followers
May 31, 2016
Nowadays, readers tend to give authors as much as five pages to impress them. More often, it's one page. Sometimes, it's even one line.

It's too bad, really, because people who read that way tend to miss some real gems. I've been slipping into that kind of reading mode, if only because there are too many books to read in a short lifetime. But for whatever reason, I stuck with this series far longer than I normally would have.

First, the problems.

This is a chronicle, and sometimes it reads like one. Most of today's fantasy readers prefer a deep, deep point of view, reminiscent of watching something on TV. The leisurely narration of classic fiction bores them. The Deed of Paksenarrion sometimes gets lost in such leisurely narration. It's not entirely surprising. Paksenarrion, as a character, is very much a work in progress. She's not very bright. She doesn't think deeply (at least in the beginning). She has a very annoying tendency to let others dictate her actions.

These are not good qualities for a main character, and add to that her complete lack of interest in romance, and you have an odd choice for a hero.

But she's earnest and good and she changes when she realizes her fault. For the better.

The account of Paksenarrion's struggles and transformation is about as transformative a reading experience as I can remember. Book Three (Oath of Gold) is gut-wrenching, brilliant, amazing. It's really what made the entire series worth a five star rating.

Outside of Game of Thrones, I have never had to experience the pain and suffering of a main character so viscerally. What Paksenarrion has to endure is martyr-like. But unlike Martin's largely nihilist treatment of (basically) everyone, Elizabeth Moon is not afraid to explore how pain and suffering can have profound positive effects on a person. And she, unlike so many others, is brave enough to try to tackle the most difficult of all aspects of fiction--a believable system of divine intercession that doesn't veer into Deus ex Machina.

Tolkien did this wonderfully. Some people don't like the way Lord of the Rings ended. Tolkien explained that he purposely did not want a typically heroic ending, not because he did not value the idea of heroism, but because he understood the importance of grace, of divine intervention in the lives of his characters, occurring ineffably, but without doubt.

When dealing with ultimate evil, either your hero needs to be a god, an even worse monster, or a human being with the odds ridiculously stacked against you. There are few ways out of such a situation that leave the reader satisfied. Moon puts Paksenarrion into a situation with no ways out. Then she delivers her in the most amazing way, but with no hint of hokey trickery. Everything that happens to Paksenarrion happens for a concrete reason that moves the plot forward. It brilliant juggling by a capable writer.

But perhaps what I loved the best about this series is its treatment of "good magic." Too often, in epic fantasy, the good guys can only beat the bad guys by taking more and more power for themselves. Yes, of course, they'll use it better than the bad guys. But in "real life" that's rarely the case. Tolkien understood this too, making "Boromir's solution" something that never ends well. But the paladins and saints of Moon's secondary world wield power only when they ask for it. It comes, or it doesn't come, not because of their own will, but because of the will of the gods they serve. This is convincing, good magic, because the wielder becomes humble through lack of control, and is safeguarded from the temptation of abusing power. It's brilliant, effective, and inspiring.

Elizabeth Moon's trenchant understanding of the temptation and misuse of power, for me, is what makes this series, according to the back cover blurb, the "only worthy successor to Tolkien."

Go and read it! But be warned, there are geldings, explicit tortures, sermonizing, and some self-righteous behavior. It's worth it, though. With patience, the reward is great.
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,431 reviews543 followers
April 2, 2012
Terrible. I hoped that the author’s experience in real combat would make this an interesting novel, but instead it just bogged the story down with boring and completely unnecessary details. She feels the need to describe every type of mud, but Paks’ training to be a soldier still somehow feels like a montage. Add to that unrealistic dialog, a plot that *still* hadn’t started at page 131, evil characters who are VERY VERY evil and good characters who are VERY VERY good, and you have yourself a piece of drek. I feel no need to finish the book (because A)the characters have no personalities whatsoever, B)the main character is a boring Mary-Sue, and C)there is no plot), let alone the series. At least Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen had a feel of joy to it; this is just one long slog through cliché-land.
Profile Image for Annie Bellet.
Author 85 books817 followers
January 28, 2008
This has been one of my favorite books since I was 11. I reread it just about every year (though I often skip certain parts because they make me cry, so I save the pain for every few years). This book is one of the best D&D-esque fantasies ever written. Sure, Paks gets hit in the head more than seems possible for someone to survive, and the bull-headedness she displays is at times annoying, but these are qualities of an interesting and dynamic character.

Elizabeth Moon writes entertaining and detailed military scenes and uses a deft hand for painting a typical fantasy world. The plot is varied and thorough. It's the characters that bring me back to this book time and again, however. I feel like I could walk through the streets of her cities and recognize everyone. I want to pick up a sword and go have adventures every time I read this book. I can't think of enough good things to say.

If you love fantasy, read this book. I can't possibly articulate what makes it so good as well as the book itself can.
469 reviews69 followers
April 3, 2013
Robin McKinley communicates with Elizabeth Moon (@emoontx) on Twitter a lot, and I figure if Robin likes it, it’s worth a read.

I did not finish this book, but not because it was bad. It was, in fact, a very interesting book, but there was a major flaw that kept me from finishing.

The story of Paksenarrion, or “Paks” as the reader comes to know her, is essentially a good one. She’s a mistreated daughter who runs away and joins the army … and that’s pretty much all that happens in the first book (this particular edition is three books crammed into one volume). One reviewer on Amazon describes the book as “relentlessly linear” and I’m inclined to agree. Moon describes everything, and I mean everything, that Paks does. If she’s walking to the tent, there’s a whole page of what she sees and who she passes, not just once, but every time she walks somewhere. It’s as if you’re following her around but you have no idea what she’s thinking. Because the story is told in 3rd person, you don’t get reflection from Paks’ point of view, and you don’t get the viewpoints from any other characters. Usually, in stories of this length, the author has a main character, but also has supporting characters whose thoughts and feelings the reader is privy to. This moves the story along and helps the reader connect with the characters. In The Deed, the reader watches Paks move along her path without ever really connecting with her. I like her as a character, but the book is just too boring. Every tree, every ridge that Paks passes is described in detail and the plot never seems to be going anywhere because you’ve been inundated with descriptions of her mealtimes, her training times, her sleeping patterns, and every other mundane detail.

And yet, this book is a steadfast favorite among many. Perhaps it’s just not my kind of reading, but I checked this book out months ago, have renewed it twice, and have finally given up. I’ll be taking this back to the library, and I won’t lose any sleep over the fact that I dropped it during a war. I like Paks as a character, but her story just wasn’t told in a way that suits me.
Profile Image for Lorena.
1,008 reviews179 followers
February 8, 2021
This book is interesting to me primarily for its description of the main character's military training. The author is a former Marine, and as such, her creation of a female warrior has more credibility than most. However, as technically accurate as this series may be in terms of military training and strategy, it is seriously lacking in emotional resonance. The main character, Paksenarrion (Paks), never really connects emotionally with anyone else. We are told that certain other characters are her "friends," but why is a mystery. Mostly they seem to be gregarious people who adopt her without much encouragement from Paks herself, and then rapidly get themselves killed off so that the relationships don't have to develop very far. More than anything, Paks seems almost like a child. Her closest relationships are with older men who treat her in a fatherly fashion. She has no sexual urges or attractions whatsoever, which seems to indicate that she may be asexual and aromantic. (If this is the case, it is not a particularly compelling portrayal of an ace person.) She spends most of the series very passively taking orders from others. While we are assured in brief passages that she is learning all sorts of things, her understanding of things like politics and philosophy never seems to progress beyond that of a child.

Also, I didn't care for the role Paks' faith played in these books. We are supposed to believe that her strong faith plays a large role in the final conflict in the series, but the only reason she HAS faith at all is because her gods have appeared to her repeatedly and bestowed all sorts of gifts upon her. It doesn't strike me as all that remarkable to develop an unshakeable faith in a god that is constantly showing up and actively helping you out.
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books580 followers
July 19, 2014
This rating applies to the trilogy overall, though my review below concentrates mostly on the last two books. I reviewed the first novel, Sheepfarmer's Daughter, separately; my review is here: www.goodreads.com/review/show/625260624 . (That review is worth reading for insight into the development of the trilogy as a whole.) But while that novel can sort of stand as a unit on its own (though closely related to the other two), the second one, Divided Allegiance, ends with Paks in a terrible and apparently hopeless situation. If we take that as the completion of a story arc, the book would get terrible ratings and worse reviews (my wife, to whom I read the omnibus volume aloud, suggested wringing Elizabeth Moon's neck :-) ); and that would be completely unjustified, because that's NOT the completion of a storyline --the last two books have to read essentially as a unit! Hence my decision to rate and review the omnibus volume as such. (The first novel by itself earned a four-star rating.)

Some of the characteristics of the first book carry over into the next two: the detailed world building, the strong characterizations, the slow narrative pace (though that's not as noticeable here, possibly because by now we're used to it). In other ways, there are differences. Paks' growth as a character here is very marked, and that's one of the reasons for the five stars; she really comes into her own here, psychologically, morally and spiritually, but this comes about as believable personal development of who she essentially is, not as an artificial change tacked on by the author. This is one of the great strengths of the trilogy. Most fantasy fans will appreciate the fact that magic, and magical creatures and races, come into play in the storyline from early in the second book, and play a much more important role in the rest of the trilogy than before. For fans who don't like the military-centric style of fantasy, Paks is taken out of the mercenary company context fairly soon in the second book. Here, she's not in situations that call attention to her unusual disinterest in sex, and that aspect of her character fits into her role as a paladin (see the Goodreads description); "paladins" aren't allowed to marry.

In reviewing the first book, I noted that it seemed to hint that the cult of St. Gird would figure more prominently in the succeeding books. That guess was dead on. While the first novel introduces us to the seemingly polytheistic religions and cults of Moon's fantasy world, the later volumes take us behind the scenes to see more of a unifying pattern in apparent diversity. The human cultures of Pak's world recognize a righteous Creator, the High Lord; and it's explicitly suggested that the elven and dwarfen concepts of the Creator are the same God, just with a different name and different stressed aspects. Other, lesser "gods" are spiritual entities that either serve the Creator, or in the case of the evil ones (and some are radically evil) oppose him, much like Satan opposes God; while human saints like Gird and Falk are separately venerated by distinct groups of followers, but each are recognized as servants of the common High Lord. In other words, religion in that world is much more monotheistic in essence than it initially appears; and it's a strongly moral monotheism. (And as in our world, believers have to struggle with challenges to faith and problems of theodicy.) I know nothing about Moon's religious beliefs, if any. But I'd say that while she's created a world in which believers have a different "salvation history" than they do in ours, it's one in which Christian readers can view them as believers in the same Creator. That's an important realization, because religious themes play a key part in the last two novels --and I'd say they're themes/messages that are entirely compatible with Christianity.

There's plenty of sword-fighting and other action here, quests and intrigue, magical perils, hidden identity, and a plot that's suspenseful right up almost to the last page. But it's also a work of rare psychological and spiritual depth, with the kind of serious dimension that marks it as truly great fiction, fiction of lasting literary significance, not just entertainment value. It's also fiction that will break your heart in places, because there are points where Paks practically goes through hell --and some scenes here are not for the squeamish. But light is only recognizable against darkness; and out of great darkness here comes great light. One of the most powerful scenes in English-language literature that I've ever read in a lifetime of reading occurs here (you'll know it when you read it). It's a real shame that this trilogy isn't more widely known by fantasy fans; but more than that, it's a shame that it's not recognized as one of the crown jewels of the American literary canon from the late 20th century. I'd like to hope that someday it will be!
Profile Image for Michael Pang.
74 reviews33 followers
June 7, 2014
Fantastic, I forgot I was reading an omnibus edition of 3 books I was so engrossed.

When I first read the blurb where it said it was a high fantasy story of sheepfarmer's daughter turned paladin, I admit I was a little wary. I envisioned some immature teenager shooting bolts of blue light from fingers instantly dropping scores of ugly orcs, talking pets, [insert cheesy/campy bad kiddie movie theme), etc. Needless to say, it wasn't and was a fantastic story.

The 3 books of the omnibus follow one after the other, literally with little to no time between books.

Book 1 I would categorized a solid military fantasy. The main character, Paks, joins a mercenary company and you follow along as she trains and adventures with the company across the map. We have close formation drills, sieges, and campaigning.

Book 2-3, Paks leaves the company and we adventure along with quests into underground lairs, meet elves/dwarves/orcs, knight/paladin training, quests, kings and politics and more military fantasy.

The books isn't overly "dark" but neither is it "childish" as I feared it might be. What you have here in the omnibus is great military, high and epic fantasy. If the author, Elizabeth Moon ever revisits this world I would eagerly await more.
Profile Image for Kapi.
17 reviews1 follower
June 3, 2011
I came upon this saga purely by accident, because I was testing out the Baen free Library (many thanks to them) on a new PDA. After reading a few pages I was hooked, and could not get to the second and third books fast enough. I completely got caught up in her trials and battles and victories. Ms Moons writing style captivated me and didn't let me go until I turned the last page. This is a story that when I finished it, I held the book close to me and sighed, sad that it was over. Paksenarrion is a character that I can admire for her honesty (altho sometimes it seemed unrealistic) and her sense of honor. I don't normally keep books, but pass them on to others for enjoyment, but this one I will keep, in printed form, e-book, and audiobook.
Profile Image for Liam || Books 'n Beards.
535 reviews48 followers
November 24, 2020
Complete Trilogy review - individual reviews are below

I first read the Deed of Paksenarrion between classes at TAFE way back in the hazy mists of 2014 - it took me 3 months at the time to get through this 1200 page tome, but it always stuck with me as a very unique and enjoyable low-fantasy epic, and probably my favourite portrayal of paladins in fiction.

This time around it took me a solid 5 months to get through it due to some dips in reading, reading along with Denise and Di over at SpecFic Buddy Reads - but I enjoyed it all the more for having forgotten a lot of the plot.

Paks' journey through SHEEPFARMER'S DAUGHTER, DIVIDED ALLEGIANCE and OATH OF GOLD is in most regards the typical trilogy structure - you could transplant it to Star Wars or any other number of popular stories and it would operate essentially unchanged - but it is the way that Moon writes her world and her characters that lifts the DEED OF PAKSENARRION above the ordinary for me.

The Eight Kingdoms and Aarenis as the main locales for the books are a masterwork of showing and not telling - despite very little worldbuilding being evident in the books and precious little maps I had such a good grasp of the varying looks and cultures of the cities and places that we visit. The politics are a bit more overtly explored and lend life to the world even more.

With very few exceptions, the characters in the DEED OF PAKSENARRION come across as very human and relatable, even when they are playing the role of the villain in the story - from Kieri Phelan's cold fury to Master Oakhallow's quiet magnificence and all the members of Paks' company who could so easily have been Faceless Soldier 1 through 100, every character gives the impression of a real person beneath their (sometimes no longer than a page) interactions with our main character.

As for Paksenarrion herself, she is one of the best heroines in fantasy that I've read - the world she occupies is very slightly more progressive than real medieval Europe was which helps, but Paks still has no shortage of challenges on her way to glory. Often, heroines fall into the trap of being the most incredible person in the world in the author's efforts to show them as being confident and competent.

Paks is bright, but definitely not overly smart - she's hard-working, but she doesn't spring naturally to expert status in anything she attempts - she's loyal, but still has consistent doubts and mixed emotions about most of the people and events that she comes across - she earns her place as a great hero.

The books aren't without their problems - the writing can sometimes be very dry and slow, which I personally enjoy but I understand that a lot of people won't like reading about the drudgery of medieval sieges, and occasionally the 'mysteries' presented are about as mysterious as a brick to the face - but I struggle to find any specific criticisms I can lay on the trilogy.

Books 1 and 2 are very close to 5 stars for me, with Book 3 coming in at about 3.5-4 stars - however, as a whole, THE DEED OF PAKSENARRION combines into one of the best trilogies I've ever read.

Sheepfarmer's Daughter ★★★★★

It has been a long time since I read THE DEED OF PAKSENARRION, so I was surprised when I found that her journey as a Paladin doesn't begin in the first book, SHEEPFARMER'S DAUGHTER!

I really enjoyed this re-read. Moon's dedication to showing the drudgery and grit of middle ages-style training and combat is excellent, and I found it to be very compelling - though I can understand why some people found it boring/repetitive.

Paksenarrion is one of my favourite heroines - she is strong, but not a fiesty warrior queen like so many authors fall into the trap of having 'strong' warrior heroines present as. She's not stupid, but she is humble and a bit naive, and more than anything eager to prove herself, and her journey up Duke Phelan's Company seems entirely believable. Her complete lack of interest in marriage or romance is also refreshing - even the most solid of heroines tend to fall into a eyelash-fluttering disaster when they meet their True Love, and Paksenarrion deftly avoids that.

The world is quite understated which I like - hell, the map provided in this edition doesn't even include the northern realms where fully a third of the novel takes place. Warring free cities and small nation states fit the world perfectly, and Moon gives each that we pass through a nice distinctive culture without really going overboard or exploring it too much.

My only real criticism is that for a book which lives in the Gray - mercenary company who will work for who pays, Paksenarrion not really leaning towards either Good or Evil - the antagonist of the latter half of the book is capital E Evil. But I feel like that was somewhat intentional, to push Paks towards the opposing side of the spectrum.

The religions/gods/saints of the world of Paksenarrion have always been one of my favourites - they're very grounded and low fantasy and I love the idea of these wandering Paladins and Marshals.

Divided Allegiance ★★★★★

DIVIDED ALLEGIANCE is the perfect middle chapter to a trilogy.

From the triumphal end of SHEEPFARMER'S DAUGHTER, it takes less than 10 pages for Paksenarrion to come crashing back to earth; finding that being an occupying police force is far less heroic and much more morally gray than simply defeating evil in battle.

This begins a rollercoaster of ups and downs for our girl Paks - setting off on her own, she encounters far more varied folk than she did during her time in Phelan's Company - from travelling with a half-elf into an ancient elven dungeon to nearly being killed at the hands of dozens of orcs, to watching friends die fighting sorcerers, to training to be a Paladin of Gird - and having that torn away from her.

DIVIDED ALLEGIANCE continues what the first book started with its worldbuilding - understated but somehow very evocative. From the small town of Brewersbridge to the mighty city of Fin Panir to the otherworldly and hostile western valleys and mountains, Moon seems to do so much with so little. She never wastes words going into detail on anything, but somehow the places in Paks' world seem to spring fully formed into my imagination from the tidbits she does drop here and there.

The up-and-down tone of DIVIDED ALLEGIANCE can make it a struggle to read sometimes - the first half of the book kind of spins its wheels and bogs down. Enjoyable, to be sure, but it can feel like a bit of a slog as no real progress is made for some time - however this is important for Paks as a character, to experience fighting for good, rather than for money and to follow orders.

The end of this middle chapter is, as to be expected, a low point - however it is unique in my experience that the low is the protagonist themselves, rather than a tricky or dangerous situation (although she's certainly in that as well). Paks loses the thing that has carried her from her father's sheep farm through to her candidacy as a paladin - her courage. The ending of DIVIDED ALLEGIANCE is so well done and so very painful to read, as a reader you feel like there is no way out for her; you can only imagine how much worse it feels for Paks.

Oath of Gold ★★★★
I enjoyed OATH OF GOLD, but it was probably the weakest of the three books. As enjoyable as it is to see Paks recover her abilities and strength after the lowest of the lows at the end of DIVIDED ALLEGIANCE, after this the final chapter of the trilogy somehow feels very rushed despite being the same length as the other two books.

Her visit to the kuakgan Master Oakhallow is incredibly interesting and philosophical which I enjoyed, as is the snippet of her stint with the Lyonyan Rangers that we see - however after this, it kind of spirals a little.

The Paksenarrion who we share the remaining two thirds of the book with feels like a different character to the one we spent the first two books with - part of that is her renewed self-worth and sureity in her abilities, and her realisation that she is a chosen paladin - something quite rare and special in this world. However even so, her manner changes, becoming very proper and well-spoken - very holier-than-thou and almost arrogant at some places, whereas the Paks of SHEEPFARMER'S DAUGHTER and DIVIDED ALLEGIANCE always managed to remain grounded and relatable even as she was going through the most fantastical of events.

The plot itself also feels a little bit contrived once she reveals Phelan's traitorous steward - I had almost no memory of this book, but when she was investigating the 'lost king' of Lyonya and it is drilled into her again and again that he would be tall with red hair and gray eyes, and she continues turning to the camera and saying "Well gosh, I have no idea who that could be," until it is made utterly transparent - it feels very silly.

Not unique to this final chapter, but it felt a lot more pronounced was characters who disagree with Paks explaining as an aside what could happen to convince them, and Paks then doing it -

"Ha! You are no Paladin! A real Paladin would have magical powers"
"A Paladin I am, good sir, and here is my magical power to prove it"
"Wow I guess you really are a Paladin I am suitably cowed"

Finally, we have the torture sequence in the Liartian coven at the end of the book - which is almost repulsive in its detail, which I imagine is well and truly intentional to make her miraculous healing all the more impressive. I had forgotten about this entirely, and honestly couldn't remember whether Paks survived the ordeal - and then the book tumbles head-first down a sheer cliff into its climax, or so it felt with how fast the final battle is begun and resolved (approx. 10 pages) with yet another deus ex machina elven intervention.

While my review probably makes me sound a lot more sour on it, OATH OF GOLD was still an enjoyable read, and when combined with the two books that came before completes one of my favourite trilogies.
Profile Image for E..
7 reviews2 followers
October 21, 2012
The one and only reason I haven't flung The Deed of Paksenarrion out of the window, drowned it in a vat of potassium hydroxide, or taken it to Half-Price Books and then used the resulting nine cents to buy myself a much-needed aspirin, is that I haven't reviewed it yet.

Tomorrow, D of P, prepare to meet your richly deserved fate: sent in disgrace and ignominy to the nearest used book store, there to stew in your own fetid juices until some other poor fool staggers along and reads you.

It will surprise no one familiar with this trilogy to learn that their primary inspiration was the Dungeons & Dragons paladin character class. For those of you who spent your high school years not sitting in your mom's basement covered in cookie crumbs, beer spills, and shame, paladins are the knight in shining armor type characters, who derive their power as warriors and magic-users from their pure and noble virtues. Paksenarrion, through the course of these three masterworks of reimagining a pen and paper role-playing game's suckiest character class, develops from an ugly, dull, strong, stupid, boring, virtuous sheepfarmer's daughter into an ugly, dull, etc. etc. Warrior of Good, and three cheers for character development, right?

It's been a while since I read this, nor would I inflict any details of the profoundly unmemorable first two books on anyone even if I could. So let's just skip ahead. Quick warning to any easily grossed out readers: if you click on the spoiler, you're going to be grossed out.

In the third book, Oath of Delivering My Manuscript on Time, Paksenarrion has offered yon loyal troth or whatever to some hot young king who treats her like furniture. I think this was supposed to be a clever post-feminist reversal of the classic Medieval trope of a pure knight and his platonic courtly-love relationship with a beautiful lady in whose name he sallies forth and kills ogres and whatnot. Honestly, I found the whole relationship between the two utterly embarrassing and sad.

On the other hand, if Paksenarrion's deeds had been limited to yon ogre-slaying, you know, that would have been cool. There are a few good gender-bending chicks in this sort of story; I'm particularly fond of "The Girl Who Pretended To Be a Boy" (out of Andrew Lang's The Violet Fairy Book). Most recently, there's George R.R. Martin's character Brienne of Tarth, who's marginally less stupid, although just as much a cliché, as his others.

But no. Elizabeth Moon sends this character so far off the rails, with the completely incomprehensible titular "Deed," that this series breaks down completely.

With the "Deed," Moon seems to have intended a holy martyrdom type of effect, but I was simply left wondering what the bloody hell just happened, and more to the point: why?

Profile Image for J.
3 reviews
April 24, 2012
This book made a criminal out of me.

...let me explain.

This was the first fantasy novel that I remember reading -- the first that wasn't a school library find, aimed at children. This is not a children's book. I was around eleven or twelve and was visiting a neighbor, and saw this cover of a lady in armor on a horse swinging a sword.

And I thought: "Wow. That lady's cool. And she's not wearing a bikini."

So I asked the neighbor if I could borrow it. This is a pretty big book, mind, and I think he didn't think I'd finish it.

He might still think that, actually, because I never gave that book back. I read it cover to cover in four days, all 1024 pages of the Baen omnibus version, and then I tucked it away on my shelf. Over the years I'd pull it out and read it again every so often, whenever I was feeling a bit blue.

When I found out that the author was writing more novels in the universe, ones that actually followed what happened _after_ Paks had her adventures, I did a little happy dance around the room. And they are indeed also fantastic.

So. To recap: This is straight up epic fantasy, no bones about it, featuring one of the strongest (and most truly paladin-y) female characters I've ever bumped into. And yet for fantasy it's remarkably grounded. The story starts with the life of a working soldier, the trench-digging, supply-hauling pikemen of pre-gunpowder warfare. That this soldier evolves into the type of person who alters the face of kingdoms is a remarkable and wholly believable story, I think -- it's a hard thing to do without crossing into Mary Sue territory, but it's deftly avoided. Paks is flawed, but _true_, and I heartily recommend her tale to anyone in the mood for an epic yarn.

And then go pick up the recently released follow ups, which follow everyone else that's involved in Paks' world, and what happens when she waltzes through and shakes everything up. They're fantastic and show how the author's craft has evolved in the last twenty years, and they're appointment reading for me these days. Highly recommended.
70 reviews56 followers
December 18, 2007
OK, I loved this book when I was twelve. Paks was my first screenname and hell I even named a cow after her. Yes, I said a cow, I grew up on a farm and that's what you do when you love something on a farm. You name a cow after it. My dad once named a cow after an ex-girlfriend of his and it pissed my stepmom way off. Ok I digress. This book is about a paladin. What's that you say? Only a holy knight! Only a divine warrior of good! And what else is Paks? A sheepfarmers daughter! Do you see why I loved this book??
Profile Image for SoloSetup.
18 reviews
December 25, 2015
This is difficult book to get through and it's not because the language is particularly difficult, in fact, the language is simple and direct. Is the language direct because the characters involved are soldiers and simple sentence structure just comes with the territory? I have no idea, but there is a lack of description in the writing which means there's a lack of rhythm to the sentences and the narrative itself. And that gets under my skin like nothing else.

And then there's the characters. I'm actually finding it difficult to describe them because there's so little that I remember about them. There's a few side characters here and there but during reading I struggled to remember who they were and which position in the cohort they occupied. Paks herself is a boring vehicle for "strong female character" who...wow I can't remember what she's done besides kill a few people in battle and get injured a few times. Oh and she's not interested in having sex (with anyone), which is all fine and good, but if that's your only defining character trait...? In short, Paks is not an interesting main character and the world she inhabits isn't interesting enough to excuse her lack of personality. This makes me sad because there are so few female warrior characters in the first place and Paks is just a lump of coal with the label "strong female warrior" taped to it. She's not a bad example of a female warrior character, but she's nowhere near a good one either.

I don't know if I can finish this book. The descriptions are flat and boring and the characters (including the main character) are forgettable. Just another Flat Fantasy.


I should mention that the edition I'm reading is an omnibus of all three books in the Paksenarrion series. I just finished the first book, today. Well, "struggled through it" would be a more accurate description. I didn't know it was possible to keep the same flat pacing through an entire book rich with battles and fight scenes but Moon manages it! The fight scenes are bogged down by description and they don't flow at a natural, believable speed. This kills any suspense in the book. The flat pacing does work well for describing the drudgery involved with sieges and marching, but not for anything else that happens.

As I said before, the book suffers from shallow characterization but add that on top of the flat pacing and it becomes a struggle to read. I found myself more concerned with finishing this book than with what was going on. I know, technically, that there was a climax but it didn't feel like one; I wasn't excited or tense about what was happening at all. Paks remains dull and boring. The side characters remain forgetful and the villain, Siniava, was a throwaway character. I won't remember this book because of a thrilling storyline or fascinating characters, but because the execution was so lifeless.
Profile Image for Stef Rozitis.
1,458 reviews70 followers
April 16, 2016
Well! The joke is on me after the way I kept saying year that I resented reading anything over 500 pages since most authors were neither talented enough not disciplined enough to be worth it, and here I am in the first month of this year praising my second book over 1000 pages! To be fair this is actually a compilation of three novels (though I am not sure the second would stand alone well).

Paksenarrion is a sheep farmer's daughter, but dreams of more than just marriage. She wants to fight and she has a strong sense of right and wrong. All the elements of high fantasy are there and some cliches too, but better than that because for a start the world-building is better than average, the language is plausible and not too unwieldy. While I appreciate the many, varied, strong, female characters (more than passes the Bechdel test -look up Alison Bechdel I was still irritated that overwhelmingly more characters were male and most females in the world seemed to be back-grounded as invisible wives and suchlike.

This for me was summarised on p703 where the question of a male character's marriage is dismissed with "The world is full of good wives". Well it might be (and the term "good" in this context is problematic anyway) but where are they? The story gives them no voice or even visibility. Of course wives are boring, but then the fact that most characters are male becomes not so progressive after all (but I guess that was the nineties).

I loved that Paks is asexual. About time someone in a book was and I think it is well treated. She is a great combination of heroic and fallible, exceptional yet relatable. She is a beautiful character and the people around her who surround her with love are a Utopian but lovely part of the book (some of the traditions, celebrations and cameraderie made me think of this as a Tamora Pierce book for adults).

I hated the torture scenes. I don;t care how compelling that many detailed pages of torture. No...just no. If you feel that way too I recommend you still read the book but skip those bits...I wish I had it would have ruined the story not at all.

I love the complex(ish) morality and spirituality in the book. Yes good vs evil but...there's different ways of doing each. The way of explaining the pantheon of the world made more sense to me than multiple gods have before. I could turn my critical feminist lens on that but I would rather celebrate the Gird/Falk diversity of good as something to aspire to. The focus varies but the intent is the same.

For anyone who likes high fantasy with believable characters, magic, action, good vs evil and kick arse characters (male and female both) could get something out of this book. But be warned at times it does move slowly!
Profile Image for Saellys.
35 reviews39 followers
May 26, 2013
The one-star reviews are right about one thing: if you're not into the trappings of classic high fantasy, you probably won't enjoy Paksenarrion. There are orcs and dwarves and rangers and sentient forests and magic rings and giant evil spiders; people go on quests, and elves save the day more than once. Courage and self-sacrifice are transformative qualities. There is a happy ending and not everyone dies. Sound cliché? Well, it was the eighties and everyone wanted to be Tolkien--gritty medieval fantasy with lots of swears and boobs had not yet been invented.

If you can sit through all that, you'll discover a very different sort of high fantasy novel. In fact, Elizabeth Moon created exactly what a lot of people want, and fail to get, out of contemporary fantasy--and she did it twenty-five years ago.

This is a true epic that happens to be about a woman. Paks gets remarkable character development, and her story does not end with having babies. Her environment is almost entirely egalitarian, but the gender dynamics are still fascinating. She is surrounded by people of color and varying sexual orientations. The mercenary company in which she gets her start is a pragmatically progressive microcosm, with contraceptives freely available and no religious affiliation. All the characters feel solid, as if they had lives before this story; some are morally grey, some are full of doubt, some are shining beacons of faith, but all of them make mistakes.

At no point does this reek of Moon attempting to shoehorn all the things into her novel; she handles these details masterfully. In fact, this is the first time in recent memory that I have read a trilogy and thought it actually warranted being a trilogy. The denouement really did require all that setup to have the appropriate emotional resonance. The pacing is odd at times, which leads me to believe an editor cut even more material, and that feels like a shame (particularly near the end when the perilous journey slips by much too quickly. At times I wanted to buy Moon a thesaurus. Fortunately, these minor problems did not detract from an excellent story.

If you've ever felt disappointed with the fantasy genre's perpetual focus on male protagonists and whitewashed settings, give Paksenarrion a few hundred pages to get rolling, and remember that the journey is the destination.
Profile Image for Monika.
4 reviews
April 2, 2012
Out of all the books I have read, this is probably(ok IS) my favorite. I actually was slow and bought the omnibus having not read any of the 3 books. I bought it because I have read and liked Elizabeth Moon's other books. I actually need to buy another copy as mine is so worn and tattered, held together by cardboard and duct tape.
Elizabeth Moon is a very strong writer with the ability to make you see her words in your minds eye not just on the page. Paksenarrion is the heroine of this trilogy and I am not sure if it is her strong sense of honor and duty which appeals to me or the fact that as a female veteran I can empathize with her so much.
This is my first real review and since it is my favorite book more emotional than factual. If you like fantasy and military books this one combines some of the best of both. I will honestly say there is a little drag in the middle(I skip it in rereads sometimes) but for the most part even as many times as I have read it, the flow is fast paced and dynamic and you always want to root for Paks and her friends.
Profile Image for Kevin.
61 reviews14 followers
December 20, 2010
If you aren't bothered by fantasy clichés and are looking for a good story with a strong, female lead you should consider The Deed of Paksenarrion.

This book is an omnibus edition that combines the books Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance and Oath of Gold into one volume. The trilogy was written as one story and tells the tale of Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter, or simply Paks to her friends.

Paks is the daughter of a sheepfarmer from a small hamlet in the middle of nowhere. In order to escape her betrothal to a pigfarmer and a boring life in insignificance she runs away from home at the age of eighteen and joins a local lord's mercenary band. We follow Paks as she goes through her training and her first years on campaign and we see what happens after her military years. We see her change from a young peasant girl, head filled with dreams of glory and fame, to a veteran scarred by many battles, scars both mental and physical. We follow her as she makes friends for life and as she loses those friends to war and betrayal. We follow her as she goes through moments of intense joy and triumph and as she lives through undescribable horror. And slowly, through loss, pain and mistakes but also through her inate strenght of character, the goodness of her heart, and an unwavering loyalty to her friends, the naive sheepsfarmer's daughter grows into something much more.

I liked this book, Paks makes for a credible, rich and engaging main character. The other characters all have their own personalities, strenghts and flaws, though none are as developed as Paks.
Through the realistic depictions of strategy, battles, armies on march and weaponplay Elizabeth Moon lets her background in the military and as a historian shine through. All the combat has a gritty sense of realism to it without being overly gory.

There are, however, a couple of points that could potentionally turn people, especially more experienced fantasy readers, off this story.
First of all it is very clear that the world that Moon has built is based on roleplaying settings like D&D. It is obvious from the magic system, both arcane and divine and a lot of the characters fall into clear roleplaying archetypes: the wizard, the rogue, the cleric, the paladin, ... There are also elves, dwarves and orcs who all fullfil the classic stereotypes.
Further there are descriptions of barely relevant landscapes that seem to go on for pages in certain parts, especially in the middle book. Also, something that really bothered me personally, there are the archaic speach patterns in the dialogues. It all comes across a bit contrived to me and can turn reading into a bit of slog at times.

Granted the reason that most of these 'flaws' are there is that these books were written in the late eighties. The fanasy genre and its readership has evolved since that time, and what worked or what was commonplace then can sometimes be a turnoff for modern readers.

All in all this story of self discovery and growth has more positive points than negatives and I enjoyed reading it.
Profile Image for Lori.
665 reviews68 followers
September 5, 2011
ANOTHER LABOR DAY WEEKEND FAIL! I was so excited to finally get to this, and have a wonderful escape. I have a line that I haul out to make fun of people who must have simplicity in their art, the line from Amadeus where the Emperor dismisses Mozart's music because of "too many notes." Well, one good thing about getting older is the ability to laugh at ourselves, and I'm gonna say this book has too many words! Really, 3 chapters for what could have been dealt with effectively in maybe 2 pages? Yet when someone like Mieville writes 50 pages for one idea I have no complaints, I love every word.
Profile Image for Lanko.
306 reviews27 followers
March 27, 2018
Took me the entire month of October to finish this book, and I'm a very fast reader. The description says this book have around 1.000 pages along 3 books, but it really felt like it had more than 2.000 covering 6 titles.
Because it drags a lot with over-detailed mundane and insignificant things, specially in the travels, so much that you will wonder if the title of the book shouldn't be "The Diary of Paksenarrion".

This slows the pace of the reading, and worse, makes the chapters extremely long. Really bad when you only put books down after finishing chapters.
Later, specially in the second and third books, I started glancing at pages and if there were only descriptions, slow-talk dialogue and nothing moving the story forward, I would skip those pages.

However, some of the descriptions were beautiful, really well-written with a poetic choice of words. If the books weren't so over-detailed, they would shine better. Also, I liked the details of the military drills, formations and even when Paks learn how to mount a horse.
As the books span a few years in her life, it ends up showing her progress. That was a really nice part of the books.

The characterization is very shallow and nobody has a distinct voice. There are very few good dialogue lines and none memorable. There are combat and wars and none are epic as well.

The world is also black and white, no grays. Good and evil are clearly defined. Good guys have light and healing powers, shining armor, want to do good, etc. Evil guys have black robes and hoods, pale skins, red eyes, yellow teeth, smiles full of malice, etc.
The gods are ridiculous as well, the good ones are obviously good and the evil ones want to create chaos and destroy the world, just because.
And if it wasn't clear from the title and description, Paks is a Chosen One of the good god, also just because.
At least she passes a whole lot of time, specially in the first book, questioning that in a very credible way.

Paks doesn't have any kind of relationship. She doesn't want to marry and have children? That's fine. But it felt surreal her lack of any kind of interest in anything. It's not that every novel needs to have some kind of romance, or even because the character is female. No, even if Paks was male, this wouldn't feel natural at all.
Because the books cover a period of her life that she is 18-24 and she simply doesn't care. She is not even curious about love, sex, a kiss or even just a closer relationship. Even when she sees other couples and even hear the tragic love story of the only character she really cares about, she never even wonders how it would be for her to feel the same about someone.

There are also two major points in the plot I want to address that are quite bizarre as well:


Second: Near the end of the third book, Paks and some others are searching for a certain character. Paks sees that character and gives us his description, in detail a bit earlier.
Then some chapters later she hears the same description from the people searching for him, also in full detail.
So everyone and their moms knows who the mystery character is, except Paks and the others and then the plot drags for pages until they finally figure out what everyone already knows chapters ago.

This is important because it will trigger the extremely forced and surreal ending, the "Deed":

I gave two stars because some descriptions were really good.
And the challenge Paks has to overcome at the end of book 2 was the best part of all 3 books.

Also, the book was the author's first novel, if I'm not mistaken and was written more than 30 years ago. It will show when you read it.

If you want a change of pace from dark, fast paced fantasy stories, you could try this, but be prepared to roll your eyes near the end.
Profile Image for Dev Null.
317 reviews20 followers
May 27, 2009
These books are one of the things she is most famous for, and I like her other stuff, but I avoided these for ages because the jacket blurbs make them sound like such unadulterated schmaltz. As is often the case, said jacket blurbs were probably written by someone who had done no more than look at the (terrible) cover art; the books themselves were quite good. Here Moon turns her talent for making the fantastic feel "normal" and everyday - which I much enjoyed in her sci-fi stuff - on a world of fantasy and magic. The first book follows a new recruit into a mercenary company on a fantasy world, and the day-to-day barracks life, as well as the battles, has the feel of realism to it. All is not the slaying of dragons and heroic rescuing of maidens; mostly its drill, polishing, and slogging through the mud.

In the later two books, once she has you believing in this world, more elements of fantasy creep their way in. And here we get an interesting twist. In some fantasy - usually, but not universally bad - you can practically hear the dice rolling in the background it sounds so much like a transcript of a role-playing game. They end up strings of unrelated events sounding like one of those "And then I rolled a 20!" geek stories that you desperately tried to save yourself from by faking your own death. Moon does the opposite; she paints us a picture of paladins that is so the cardboard stereotype that I swear she must have been working from a DND manual, and then fleshes it out to put real characters in it and tell an interesting story about them. All the wacky pointless details are there - from preternaturally shining armour, magic warhorses, and high charisma, to the old classic of "laying on hands" - but all given reasons and woven into a background to make sense. And then she messes about with some of the real issues like belief in god vs. belief in a church, but does it as an undercurrent in what is otherwise an action tale, so you can be intrigued by it without getting bored.

On the whole, I rarely (except for Speed of Dark) find that Moon's writing draws me in so completely and compellingly as some of my other favorites, but she has a talent for selling the fantastic as gritty and real which I always enjoy. Couple that with her poking here at genre stereotypes - and poking by simply doing the stereotypes right, for once - and these books are well worth the read.
Profile Image for Izzy.
30 reviews3 followers
April 20, 2015
This was brilliant and wonderful!
I'll admit, I was a bit put off by the year it was published since I've had mixed experiences with books that were written before I was born...Man, I'm glad I gave this a try despite my worry!
It's a story about a girl named Paksenarrion who sets out to become a warrior. It's a tale of adventure, of trial and error and of overcoming one's fears and doubts.
I was sucked in immediately and couldn't put it down. I was so happy with it that I wanted to recommend it to my mum but, to my surprise, I learned that there's no German translation of this book, which made me very sad indeed. It definitely deserves one!
If you love a good adventure, a fight of good versus evil, without the hopelessness and pessimism that so many fantasy books these days are filled with, then I highly recommend this book (or rather 3 books) to you.
Profile Image for Jules.
91 reviews11 followers
March 12, 2017
I read the whole serie. Loved it. The first 3 are best because the world is still realistic. Without to much dwarves,elves and magic. I like the mercenary army lifestyle. And the clear difference between good and bad. I love Moon's tough Asexual female characters.
Praise for tough Paksenarrion and Praise for feminist Elizabeth Moon.
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 45 books128k followers
Want to read
July 30, 2008
I read this before but don't remember if I liked it or not, so I will try it again!
Profile Image for Isis.
537 reviews26 followers
April 28, 2014
Sheepfarmer's Daughter 4 stars

Paksenarrion — Paks for short — is somebody special. She knows it, even if nobody else does yet. No way will she follow her father’s orders to marry the pig farmer down the road. She’s off to join the army, even if it means she can never see her family again.
And so her adventure begins . . . the adventure that transforms her into a hero remembered in songs, chosen by the gods to restore a lost ruler to his throne.

Here is her tale as she lived it.

A well woven introduction to what looks to be an epic fantasy, complete with warriors, mages, gods, and the clear cut good versus evil. Paksenarrion, Paks for short, grew up in a tiny town, so small most have never even heard of it. A week before her arranged marriage is to happen she has a huge fight with her father and runs of to join a mercenary band of soldiers. However, although they are a mercenary troop, and do hire out, they are an honorable lot. Luckily she signs on with Duke Phelan's recruiter, thus beginning her new life. Paks begins as all recruits do, pledging to stay with the unit for two years after her initial training is complete.

She is a tall, attractive woman, whose looks occasionally attract the wrong kind of attention. But then she seems to be a lightening rod for unusual situations. Luckily these situations end up working in her favor for the most part, and she rises through the ranks more quickly than she'd anticipated. Part of what makes her situation so interesting is the fact that she appears to be under the protection of some sort of deity, likely Gird, even though she had never even heard of him before joining the Duke's Company. This protection has brought her to the attention of both a paladin and Grand Marshal of Grid, and they would like nothing more than for her to join their order. In reality they do much the same thing that the Duke's Company's, except they don't do it for money. However Paks is not ready to leave this new family she's found, where she has people she's knows will die for her, just as she would die for them.

Paks is a great character, with strengths and weaknesses just like anybody. Yet something about her makes her stand out just a bit at first, then a bit more, and so on - not that anyone tells her this. She makes friends quickly and easily, but as her daring exploits become more widely known she unknown she also acquires some enemies - both known and unknown. Through Paks we meet a variety of characters, many of whom will remain active throughout the story.

Divided Allegiance 4.5 Stars/4stars

Now a seasoned combat veteran, Paksenarrion must seek the fabled stronghold of Luap far to the west. The way is long, the dangers many -- and none can say whether glory or ruin awaits....

With the defeat of their dire enemy Sinivia the Duke's soldiers thought they'd be heading home; much to their dismay they found themselves in an increasingly unwanted position. However for Paks the situation had become intolerable; eventually Stammel convinced her to take a leave, maybe go home for a visit, and consider returning once this campaign was done.

Paks signed on to escort a caravan partway on their travels, both to earn some money and not be traveling alone on through war-torn countryside. Her plans of splitting off and heading North alone change when she agrees to travel with Macenion, a half-elf from the caravan who is going the same direction and claims to know the way. Paks catches him in several lies, but by this point it is to turn back. Eventually she ends up in a dire situation, escaping by the grace of the gods. She rendered aid to one in vast need as part of that adventure and was sent on her way with unanticipated reward, part of which included some ancient scrolls. In her travels she stopped in a village for a time, and exchanged most of her treasure with the local money changer. She remained in the village to replenish her supplies, staying at the local inn while waiting for them to be completed. She meets both Cedfer, the local Marshal of the grange of St. Gird, and the local Kuakgan, Master Oakhallow, each of whom have important roles in her life going forward. While in town she is hired by the local Councillors to try to rout the brigands that have been attacking the area caravans, and during that adventure ends up facing off against a servant of the evil Achrya, losing a companion and gaining a potential ally. Achrya, the Webmistress, and Liart, the Master of Torments, while below the gods in terms of power, still have more power than human or even elf. Both these evil beings are

Eventually she ends up in Fin Panir, the main seat for the Company of Gird's training - particularly for Marshals, knights, and paladins. Although she's not of the order they consent to train her for a time and take it from there. She is eventually selected as a paladin-candidate for training as a future paladin; everything she'd ever dreamt of was suddenly within her grasp. While there she gave them the scrolls she received as part of her reward, only to later discover they were written by Gird's closest friend and boon companion. This leads to an expedition in which she is invited to join. Terrible misfortune befalls her on the trip, which was an ideal place to stop the book to guarantee the reader would seek out the next book with all possible speed.

A sweeping saga on its own, as part of a larger tapestry this story has been skillfully woven, line by line, creating a masterful tale filled with delightful characters, harrowing ordeals, emotional growth, and suspense enough for several books. As wonderful as the story is thus far, I'm almost certain that the final book will serve to further enrich the images we've been shown, replete with vivid details, continued character growth, and the full range of human emotions.

Oath of Gold 5 stars

Paksenarrion-—Paks for short-—was somebody special. Never could she have followed her father's orders and married the pig farmer down the road. Better a soldier's life than a pigfarmer's wife, and so though she knew that she could never go home again, Paks ran away to be a soldier. And so began an adventure destined to transform a simple Sheepfarmer's Daughter into a hero fit to be chosen by the gods.

This book picks up where book two left off, with Paks starving and so filthy no one even recognizes her, if they catch a glimpse of her. She has become so fearful of everything that she hides from the world. She is wanders into a town thinking to maybe get a meal from the local inn, but is frightened by a man-at-arms, and more so when she realizes where she is. She can't bear to have people she once knew and helped see what she's become. To escape the soldier she claims to have a question for the Kuakgan, and ends up in his grove. After much work he is able to heal her as the others couldn't, not just physically but mentally as well, though it takes her some time to know the healing really did fix her mind.

After spending the summer working with the rangers of the neighboring kingdom of Lyonya, Paks ends up traveling through Brewersville again, on her way back to see Duke Phelan. With the Inn full she spends the night at the Kuakgan's. It is while there that she becomes fully endowed with gifts from each of the gods she'd thought of during a ritual intended to help her find joy in her craft. Ultimately this means that she has become a true paladin, selected the way they used to be originally - not by the Company of Gird and it's Marshals, but by the gods themselves.

After her experience with the Kuakgan and the gods Paks heads to see the Duke. She is driven there due to a sensation that she needs to be there, and soon. Once there she begins learning a bit more of her powers, and has yet another adventure. Once that is over she feels the call again and heads out once more, being sent by the gods on a quest.

This final book is, like the two preceding it, chock full of action, suspense, surprises and roiling emotions. Be prepared to ride an emotional roller coaster with this book. While it is clearly the final book in the trilogy, it could easily be expended past a trilogy. While I loved the book, and the astounding changes in Paks from the first book to this one (even her growth in this one book alone), my only issue was that the big mystery was far to easy to puzzle out. I knew the answer to the quest almost before I knew that the topic would be focused on in the final book. Aside from that, this book is a dazzling example of an epic fantasy; a series I would recommend to anyone who loves fantasy, especially the (mostly) traditional epic fantasy.
Profile Image for Sean Morrow.
122 reviews1 follower
May 23, 2019
This was a re-read of a beloved fantasy trilogy from my youth. It holds up pretty well, although it is chock full of standard fantasy tropes. I find it mildly irritating when a fantasy writer inserts a trope and then immediately goes WOW IT'S JUST LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF A TALE, which happens a lot in these books. But I still enjoyed reading the series quite a bit.
479 reviews34 followers
April 8, 2015
I don't understand how so many awesome things could take place in this trilogy and it still be one of the most boring, dry stories I've ever read.

If the author had taken as much time on the character interactions and emotional content as she did over lovingly detailing every muddy field and dense woodland Paks had to march, ride, stumble or otherwise traverse in some fashion, then this would have been a shining beacon of dialogue and deep insight in to the inner workings of the human mind. Sadly she didn't though, so it was full of boring or thoroughly unlikeable individuals I never much cared for (I'm looking at you every single judgemental, hypocritical Marshal of Gird. I hated the entire second book just because there's so many of these jerk-arses for "good" in it).

I've read that others consider Paksenarrion to be a strong female character, but I'd have to disagree. Being able to wield a sword and having no sexual desire what-so-ever doesn't make her strong, or even particularly interesting. Personally I found that she was virtually a blank place holder of a character for most of the series, having absolutely no wants or desires beyond being a good soldier and doing what she's told to do in order to move the plot along (then later being a good paladin and moving the plot along under the guise of doing the will of the gods). Good friends of hers die throughout the series and she learns she can never return to her family because it would make them a target for evil attentions, yet after a sentence of "then she cried" it's never spoken of again and she appears no worse than she was before. Even when truly horrific things happen to Paks I never really got a sense of her suffering, even when I was being directly told how much she hated her existence at that time. I feel this is an error in the writing and not on my part as a reader. It's not my job to decide the emotional emphasis for the scene if the author doesn't make an effort to show me what the character is feeling or going through at that precise point in the story.

When the story wasn't being boring, indulging in endlessly dragging scene descriptions, or sucking at character building, it was having weird sojourns in to D&D adventures. At the beginning of the second book it literally sounded like the author was writing up the notes on a game she'd played in. For some reason her Lawful Good warrior (Paks) decided to raid a dungeon an elven ruin with a half-elf rogue-wizard she'd just met (of dubious alignment) and along the way somehow managed to purge the surrounding land of a lingering evil. This interlude had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the book or the series at all, except that the elves liked her slightly more, not that the ungrateful bastards ever really showed it or trusted her judgement at face value at any point afterwards.

I should note that the elves in this story aren't really seen much for the most part, but every time they do appear they try really hard to be inscrutable, all knowing entities who have lived hundreds of human lifetimes and so are wise, so very wise. Yet they never give a straight answer to anything and actively mess with peoples minds to cause actions (or inactions) to occur based on what they feel is best (even if they're not going to hang around afterwards), just made them seem like petty, spiteful jerks. Much like the Girdsmen in this series (who somehow manage to have a very Christian flavour despite emulating their patron saint Gird, protector of the innocent, by arming themselves to the teeth), they claim to work for the greater good and be on the side of the High Lord and the pantheon of "good" gods, but on the whole they just seem to be narrow minded individuals who only pay lipservice to the idea of goodness and dispense help only to those they consider to be "deserving".

So to conclude things here before I go off on a complete ranty tangent, no, I really didn't like this series. I know it's considered by some to be one of those great fantasy successors to Tolkien, and I guess in some ways it is (Tolkien could also linger overly long on just the wrong thing *cough*TomBombadil*cough*), but mostly I just don't see it. I want to be clear and say I didn't absolutely hate the series though. There were a lot of things that took place that I thought would have been interesting if they'd also been invested with any emotional weight at all (and there are a few scenes like that, but they stand out from the pages and pages of surrounding text because the rest is so bland), but on the whole I just found this an incredibly tedious read that I wont be rereading in the future.
Profile Image for Maggies_lens.
134 reviews3 followers
December 11, 2019
The most utterly boring, monotonous, flavourless book I have ever had the displeasure of desperately trying to get through. Don't waste your time. I have no idea why people love this story, it's like watching a particularly boring shade of taupe paint drying. That's a week of my reading life I will never get back.
Profile Image for Mark.
Author 2 books95 followers
January 21, 2012
Elizabeth Moon is more recently recognised for her epic military space operas, rather than her fantasy fiction, but military-style fantasy is where she launched her career as a bestselling novelist 21 years ago. The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, her first novel, is where we first meet Paksenarrion Dorthandotter and the world of the Eight Kingdoms.

The Deed of Paksenarrion is an omnibus comprising The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, Divided Allegiances and Oath of Gold. This classic coming-of-age tale centres on the character Paksenarrion, who rebels against her father and runs away to avoid an arranged marriage. She joins a mercenary company and becomes a soldier, where we follow her on a journey from naivety to worldliness. Populated with a wide cast of characters, the land of the Eight Kingdoms bears a weighty feel of deep history, yet this epic is primarily about the journey of a single character, and grippingly so. Although often compared to The Lord of the Rings, Moon’s work leans more towards military fantasy than high fantasy. She draws deeply on her own experiences in the marines to provide a powerful picture of military life, and while such a thing would not appeal to me at all, Moon fills her world with magical creatures and powerful gods, both good and evil, as well as enough magic that, while never overpowering, offers a subtle balance to her martial themes, proving to me just how gifted a writer she is.

The plot of this tale is not groundbreaking within the context of its genre, but Moon’s strength lies in characterisation and world-building. Paksenarrion grows before our eyes from a simple farm girl with a dream to a seasoned warrior of the ‘gods of light’. While her life experiences deepen her character and make her a more complex person (Moon doesn’t shy away from the harder realities that a female soldier may face), ‘Paks’ always seems to retain an innocence of spirit that shines brightly on the page and in the mind. To my mind, this omnibus is a true classic and a worthy addition to the bookshelf of any avid reader of fantasy fiction, or even simply good fiction.

For the last 20-odd years, Moon has been asked by her faithful followers if she will be writing any new Paks books. She has said many times that she does not have any new Paks stories to write, but she has embarked on a new journey in the world of the Eight Kingdoms, the first book of which is due in April and looks to pick up where The Deed of Paksenarrion left off. The information I have suggests Paks’ presence in the story, although we’ll see her through the eyes of different characters.
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