There are stories so epic that they change you after the reading of their tales. As a child who grew up with tales of Middle Earth and Narnia, who rolled dice for the first games of Dungeons & Dragons ever released and dreamt of Boldly going when no one had gone before… I have high standards and award 5 stars stingily. This is one of my 5 star favourites.
The Deed of Paksenarrion is a large “mass market edition” of Elizabeth Moon’s brilliant first fantasy trilogy that gathers up all six hundred thousand words of her original novels in a single volume. My copy is well loved and growing tattered with each visit, but it remains a truly amazing and original world in which to lose yourself. It reads like the best D&D adventure ever played as it chronicles the adventures of Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter, a tall young girl who runs away from an arranged marriage to a pig farmer in order to learn all she can about becoming a warrior.
Anyone who has ever Larped, RPG’d, rolled dice or dressed up as a character, will find themselves wishing they could be part of this amazing tale, despite the trials and tribulations as the main character and those around her are swept from one adventure to another. The thrilling saga weaves itself to an astounding and satisfying conclusion with plenty of weaving paths along the way. You can almost sense Paksenarrion “leveling up” as she gains experience as a mercenary fighter and is eventually claimed by a higher calling. Elizabeth Moon creates a lush world of kingdoms in peril, mysterious elves, evil plots and tangled loyalties that is both believable and engrossing. Once you get caught up in the first chapter, you find yourself struggling to put the book down for such mundane things as eating or sleeping. A few of the stains on my copy are proof that I got so engrossed in this story that the spoon or fork got distracted on its journey to my mouth!
The Deed of Paksenarrion does not shy away from the ugly side of war, the perils of the command chain or the fears that face the helpless. It does not glorify battle the way some video games seem to either. Instead, Elizabeth Moon creates a truly outstanding story where battles are marvelous echoes for all of the struggles we humans face in our lives. The courage and determination, the tenacity and conviction with which some of these vivid characters face their destinies reminds us that humans are capable of great things. We have only to try instead of running away or taking an easier, darker path.
If you have never read The Deed of Paksenarrion, hunt it down. It MUST be on your book “bucket list”. I wish I could share your excitement as you read it for the first time. If you have already discovered how truly unique and amazing this book is, chime in and share what you loved best about it as a comment.
I was thrilled when Moon returned to this timeline in 2010 and created a different set of slightly overlapping adventures that take place after the events in The Deed of Paksenarrion. It gives me more things to read and review before the end of the year and this challenge!
The Deed of Paksenarrion Paperback format, 1024 pages, published in 1992 by BAEN Fantasy
Originally published as Sheepfarmer’s Daughter ©1988, Divided Allegiance ©1988 and Oath of Gold ©1989