When Elizabeth Moon’s Sheepfarmer’s Daughter hit bookshelves in 1988, it boldly announced the arrival of a new voice in the genre. At the time, much of fantasy on the shelves, and specifically military fantasy, was written by men. What Moon brought to her tale was a deep and authentic military experience; she served in the Marines. The title alone could be seen as a play on expectations as many fantasies which leaned toward the Epic variety published in the 1980s involved farmboys and prophecies. This is definitely not the case with this trilogy. The Deed of Paksenarrion was written as one story over three novels, and many people (myself included) have encountered this series through the big blue omnibus Baen published in 1992.
Elizabeth Moon introduces readers to Paksenarrion Dorthansdottir, Paks for short; a young girl who wants nothing to do with the arranged marriage into which her father is forcing her. Despite her father having procured a dowry for her, Paks runs off to join a mercenary group. Much of the novel relays her experience becoming indoctrinated as a soldier through a measured, and very plausible build. While Paks seems to be all-too-perfect and dutiful, she does go through hardships this is the of three acts of the full story. An effective aspect of the narrative was how Moon glossed over months/weeks at a time then focused on the more important scenes, although there seemed to be a lot marching happening. The way in which Paks’s superiors seem more than aware of her growing importance and connection to Gird (a heroic savior from the past) came across quite well.
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