Refusing to marry a pig farmer and joining the army even if it means never seeing her family again, Paksenarrion begins an adventure that enables her to restore an overthrown ruler. Reissue.
I read this as part of the "Deed of Paksennarion" compilation, but I felt more comfortable reviewing this book alone because I felt it was superior to the other two novels in the trilogy: "Divided Allegience" and "Oath of Gold". This book stands well on its own, even though it is part of a trilogy. If you read this and enjoy it for the same reasons I did, be warned that the next two books take a different direction and lose some of what made this book so enjoyable for me.
This is a wonderful story if you want realistic fantasy. The military structure and feel of the book is brilliantly authentic. I had the priviledge of training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, and I can confidently state that Elizabeth Moon knows her stuff. Any veteran will find a trace of their old DI in Sergeant Stammel, and of their own shock in the first days of training in Paks' reactions.
This book also manages to have a strong female character without becoming in any way pedantic, patronizing or anti male. Paksenarion is portrayed as a good recruit who becomes a good soldier. The feel of the book is that, male or female, every individual deserves a chance to reach the height of his or her potential. It manages to convey such a lofty theme while remaining true to the grit and coarse humor of an infantry platoon.
All in all, this book is a terrific read, and not the usual run of the mill Tolkien retread stuff of which fantasy is too full today.
The next two books in the series, "Divided Allegiance" and "Oath of Gold", are worth reading as well. Elizabeth Moon has proven herself one of the genre's finest.