Monday, September 14, 2015

The Deed of Paksennarion - my review on Goodreads

Such a good book. One that I fought with, but came out loving it even more because of the challenge. Do you want to see how to do polytheistic cultures?

The Deed of Paksenarrion (The Deed of Paksenarrion, #1-3)The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s pretty hard to talk about a book of over 1000 pages that sprawls across a continent and cataclysmic heroic events without spoilers, but that’s my goal here. Before I start, I want to say that I fought with this book for the longest time, but resistance was futile. I ended up in love with the characters and the world-building impressed me tremendously. Elizabeth Moon, your imagination is amazing. Your story will live in my mind, if I am lucky, until my last breath. Thank you for writing it.

I bought these 3 books on sale at Amazon. I read the first one in an 2 week period last year (that’s trudging for me) and bitched the entire time. My first impressions were that Paks is some perfect, order-following recruit that gains favor by brown-nosing relentlessly. Just call me Barra, ok? Grrr… Anyway, everything goes well for her for a long, long time. She follows orders without much dissent until she is confronted with the old problem of the good that chooses to wear the face of the evil, if only for a time. A moment where she stops the Duke from making a terrible mistake with Siniava becomes vital for the rest of the story, and we find that we have fallen into the velvet hand of a master storyteller. The last 700 pages of the story were swallowed like a glutton at a feast.

My first impression was that the characters were a bit too rote, but that changed over the story, and I (am the last one?) realized something (along with Paks) and now it’s clearly the intent of the author to demonstrate how people’s perceptions of others change over time. At one point in the story Paks realizes that people that have older have already lived a good part of their life before she meets them (or maybe she is hearing a story as such - I can't find the quote) and at that point you need to reevaluate all the different relationships.

A lot of people who say it is too easy for Paks (myself included early on) go dumb by the middle of he 2nd book. What this character endures from Liart and The Webmistress is truly unspeakable. If I had to make a criticism at all, I don't think that it's necessary for Paks to be so "pure" to make the point of her degradation. She seemed at times asexual to me which was off-putting, but this becomes a small complaint. The characters ascend to almost Pantheonic proportions by the end of the tale.

Before I go I have to talk about the world-building. I was thoroughly caught by surprise, because you are not immediately immersed. I don't know really when I started breathing air from Paks's world, but I did. By the end of the story the gods made sense, the different guilds and sects made sense, and the characters, their nations, their races... EVERYTHING became natural. I don't know how else to say this, but it's not often I am this pleasantly surprised. If there were six stars I would give them. I fought the Moon and the Moon won.

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