Sunday, September 17, 2023

Divided Allegiance

Elizabeth Moon
Completed 9/17/2023, Reviewed 9/17/2023
4 stars

Another outstanding tale of Paksenarrion , picking up where it left off in Sheepfarmer’s Daughter.  Moon continues with excellent prose and world building, but this time, introduces elves, dwarves, and orcs.  This book didn’t suffer from second book in a trilogy syndrome.  It’s plot felt apropos of Paks’ growth as a warrior and exploration of her magical and spiritual side.  It ends on more of a cliffhanger than the first book did.  It’s certainly not a standalone book and leaves you wanting more.  I was impressed by how much I liked the story and how emotionally involved I was with the aloof main character.  My only complaint was technical:  It was reported on my ebook as 322 pages, but almost every page was two swipes.  I was only reading about 10-12 pages an hour and I couldn’t figure out why for the longest time.  Then I found on other websites that this book in other forms is over 500 pages long.  Sneaky.  So if you want to read this book, settle in for a longer than expected ride. LOL.

Paks takes her leave of the mercenary army at the urging of the Duke with the invitation to return at any time.  He wants her to find her true calling based on the magical powers she seems to have but has no control over or understanding of.  Hey journey meets her up with a half-elf to help her across the mountains.  He convinces her to follow him to a secret elven place where treasure may lie.  It’s on the way so she agrees.  It turns out to be a much more dangerous task than the elf revealed.  However, she escapes with much treasure.  Eventually she makes her way to a place for military and spiritual growth where she’s invited to train as a paladin.  The marshals there recognize that she’s quite advanced already and allow her to accompany a quest to find the hidden fortress of Luap, friend of Saint Gird.  Gird is the patron of warriors fighting for good against evil.  However, the quest is her toughest yet and full of terrible dangers.  

The coolest part of this story is the introduction of the different races:  elves, dwarves, and orcs.  After a fairly standard military first book, this one plays more on the fantasy aspect.  Like the first book, there’s a lot of traveling which at times gets a little boring.  The landscape is profusely detailed and slows the pace down.  But unlike the first book, more happens on the way, which makes up for the long dry sections.  And to be fair, it’s not that dry as the prose is still delicious.  

Paks is an interesting character.  She’s definitely not a Mary Sue.  Lots of things happen to her, good and bad, and her reactions are uneven and sometimes downright depressing.  Despite several years as a mercenary, she’s still a simple, good-hearted young woman with a fair amount of naivete.  At times, I sat there thinking, “No, no!  Don’t think like that!”  However she does, and the choices are not always good ones.  In fact the ending of this book is a big downer, but it does leave you wanting to see what becomes of her.

I give this book four out of five stars.  It held my attention well, even though I often felt I wasn’t making much progress because of the misrepresentation of the page numbers.  I think I would have felt like I was making better progress if it listed the pages as 528 normal length as opposed to 322 long pages.  But aside from that technicality, I loved reading it and will hit the last book in the trilogy after my next book club read.  

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