Book Review – The Deed of Paksenarrion


The Deed of Paksenarrion was written early by Elizabeth Moon. It is a combination of three books making an epic fantasy story of a female paladin. Paksenarrion, known as Paks, flees her home at the age of 18 to avoid a marriage arranged by her father. She joins a mercenary company as a soldier and follows its fortunes. The story setting is medieval with the land being ruled by kings, barons and the occasional merchant’s council. Mercenary companies are hired to defend cities, or supplement aggressive actions such as sieges and invasions. The cities do not keep standing armies so mercenary companies regularly shift alliances. A de facto “code” has developed between mercenary companies because of these shifting alliances – sensible surrenders are made with the expectation that soldiers will be treated reasonably and will be ransomed fairly. This works reasonably well until one mercenary company stops following the unwritten codes and starts committing atrocities on other mercenaries and on cities. Paksenarrion is a foot soldier in the company that leads the fight against this company of darkness and pain. The story follows that arc and her quest for understanding and finally a quest to restore a rightful king.
Elizabeth Moon is one of my favorite authors. Her dialogs are engaging and her story lines are very tight. The story depicts castle sieges with vivid details and what feels to be very accurate for the times – it was a slog for both sides. I appreciate her portrayal of the complexity of armies – managing the logistics, command structure and finally the fog of battle. She had spent time as an officer in the USMC and her knowledge of military life shows. The story itself is a battle of good and evil. On one side are the paladins and soldiers of Gird who battle on the side of good. On the other are priests who revel in pain and suffering. The story also challenges leaders to “do the right thing.” In the anger following a battle, atrocities can and will be committed. Those who want to claim righteousness need to check the anger and recognize their responsibilities to a higher standard.
This is the introductory book to a series that Moon is reviving – the Paladin Legacy novels. To understand and follow the politics of those novels, one should read this book first. Moon is a talented writer who also writes excellent “hard science fiction”. I enjoyed her dabble in fantasy and look forward to other books in the series.

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