If you want to read a taste of Elizabeth Moon’s acclaimed fantasy trilogy, The Deed of Paksenarrion, you can get a free e-copy of the first book, Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, from Baen Books’ Free Library or from Random House/Del Rey’s free e-library at Suvudu.
This was her first book, and in many ways it shows. But Moon’s rural and military background also shows to great advantage. It’s gritty, mostly cheery high fantasy. The second book brings Paks both opportunity and unimaginable crisis as she starts work as a paladin; the third book actually takes a look at what makes a hero and martyr.
But Paksenarrion does survive all that. So this next part of the series is more or less standalone, but starts at just about that point, with faraway friends who don’t yet know that she’s survived her little Deed. That’s pretty much all you really need to know; and from the excerpt, it’s all covered in the opening chapters of the new book, Oath of Fealty.
Btw, Paks’ world is not a Christian world; but all the gods of Paks’ world are either foes or saint/servants of the High Lord, who is qualitatively different from the rest. So it’s a Christian-compatible world, in case you were wondering.
There is one very disturbing moment when Paks is at paladin school. She isn’t particularly devoted to any of the lesser gods, although the god Gird apparently has picked her as his paladin. So all the teachers at the school gang up on her and demand that she commit to some god or leave paladin school. Of course she prepares to leave, at which point they explain to her that they want her to commit because otherwise she’s an ingrate whom they can’t trust and who might be a servant of the evil gods. Even though she’s doing perfectly fine, and even though you’d expect a servant of evil gods to have a bit better cover. Nothing like paladins shading the truth in the name of a greater good….
So basically she ends up doing a conversion thing at that point, but only because people are nasty to her “for her own good”. Instead of killing herself or riding off on her god-given horse with all her untrained god-given paladin powers, like I personally was expecting. I found it really, really disturbing later, when I found out that some people actually do this exact sort of thing to “encourage” religious conversions. Personally, I’d think it would encourage two-by-fours to the heads of all involved and never darkening a church door again, but I guess that’s just me.
Now, one of the themes of the books is that Paks is a nice person with some anger issues. Said issues only increase after paladin school. The author doesn’t seem to think that the above has anything to do with it, but if it gives me more anger issues on her behalf, it sure must do it for Paks!