Book review The Deed of Paksenarrion

First off, I must say that I really enjoy reading books of butt kicking heroines. The Deed of Paksenarrion is a compiled trilogy by Elizabeth Moon. I’ve read her work before such as “Command Decision” and its series. I’m a fan so I decided to try this out. The book is a 1,000 page fantasy trilogy that unlike many trilogies, really feels like one big book.  First off, the compilation could use a better title. “Paksenarrion” isn’t only hard to pronounce, it just isn’t catchy. The first part is called “The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter.” She leaves her father’s farm to avoid marrying a pig farmer and runs off to join a mercenary company. The training and military life is more realistic than I’ve seen but is still idealized some.  However, that may be my own biased because I hated the military life and the character, Paksenarrion (called Paks thank goodness) loves the military life.  The military life is all very well done and the reader really feels what its like.  She takes to the life of a mercenary like a natural. She quickly is set apart from the other soldiers as something special. In the first part it chronicles her campaigns as a mercenary. I think the first part (book) was my favorite. the battles were well done and the depictions of mercenary life were fascinating. The Duke, the merc leader, comes to respect Paks but at the end of the book she leaves the company because she has a higher vision of fighting wrong and doing good. There is a lot of foreshadowing that she will become a paladin, a holy warrior and do-gooder. The second book she travels with an annoying half-elf and do some typical dungeon crawling type adventure stuff. The elf is painfully annoying with how arrogant and condescending he is. And although the other elves are portrayed to be better, I still wanted to slap all of them for being arrogant and condescending. And the elf characters complain that humans don’t like them. No wonder. (Even the elf queen at the end I found to be a bi-atch.) She goes through more adventures until she finally starts training as a paladin. I thought, okay, this is no surprise, we knew this was coming. But then, she’s captured by evil elves and forced into days of constant arena fighting where they infect her with rage in her heart. When she’s rescued, she so badly damaged that they have to use magic surgery to remove the evil, but it also removes all her courage. Paks now is frightened of everything and leaves the training grounds in disgrace. The second book ends with her pathetic, beggery existence. This part was very well done and I really felt for poor Paks. I loved the build up to being a paladin and then having it ripped from her. Well done Mrs. Moon. In the third book, with the help of a druid, she regains her courage and becomes a paladin. Then she goes on quest to find a missing heir to the kingdom that doesn’t know they’re the missing heir. (of course.) It turns out to be her friend the Duke, who the reader figure out is the missing heir long before the characters do. The last part of the book feels rushed. Everything happens too quickly and too conveniently. Then the duke is captured and she exchanges herself for the Duke. This is now my least favorite part of the book. Until now it has been a light PG-13 type fantasy that I’d recommend to everyone, but when Paks is captured, she is subjected to five days of torture and rape. I don’t want to go through a 1000 page novel where I get to know the innocent, kind, and honest Paks, just to have her tortured and rapped for days. Drama wise, it was harsh and I felt it all, but it didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the story. The character is detached from all the horrible things that happen, so it ends up in a strangely voyeuristic way that I found very uncomfortable. When she is released/escapes, she is miraculously healed and bares no emmotional scars. She then goes and saves the day in one last battle. After the torture-porn part, she looses all her character that we’ve grown to know and love and becomes an automaton servant of her gods. Even her reunion with the duke, after sacrificing herself is void of emotion. Everything about the book was very well done until the end where we loose connection and everything feels rushed. It’s as if the last quarter of the third book could have been a book in itself. Even with the last part, I still recommend it if you like good ole’ sword and sorcery type fantasy.

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~ by Minimum Wage Historian on April 23, 2011.

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