Saturday, 23 June 2012

Elizabeth Moon's "The Deed of Paksenarion"

Very enjoyable fantasy about a young woman who leaves her farming roots to become a warrior. The first part ("The Sheep farmers Daughter") is available for free download from Baen Ebooks and if you like it you can buy the rest, good system. In Paksearnion's world the southern realms are constantly engaged in factional wars. This provides ongoing opportunities for mercenary armies from the more peaceful North to earn their keep campaigning for Southern lords and our aspiring heroine joins one such army. Most of the book is regular soldiering but the regular cast of characters including elves and dwarves turns up and there  is a smattering of magic both good and bad thrown in too.  The magic is tied closely to the religious framework of the book world with various God's both evil and just endowing their followers with abilities. In fact the main theme of the saga is Paksenarion's (Paks)  development from mercenary to holy warrior.

The villains unfortunately are the weakest element of the story for me, particular the magical ones. On several occasions Paks has to clear out dungeons populated with minions and boss monsters that are lifted straight out of a 1980's isometric computer role playing game. The boss is always lying in wait in the deepest dungeon and his minions appear to be constrained to moving on fixed paths.  At one hilarious juncture we even had minions lining up in groups of three to be moved down by the advancing heroes. The similarity is so close it has to be deliberate but it doesn't really work for me. Happily once they get out of the dungeons the story is much more fluid and the combat more enjoyable.

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