The Deed of Paksenarrion: Oath of Gold by Elizabeth Moon
There are Men in Middle-Earth, even though Tolkein's stories center on Hobbits and Elves. Elizabeth Moon takes that rich tapestry of orcs, Elves, dark sorcery, and high chivalry to a new place with the trilogy The Deed of Paksenarrion.
—DrPat Review, Sheepfarmer's Daughter
It is impossible to thoroughly review the third book of Elizabeth Moon's glorious Paksenarrion trilogy, Oath of Gold, without presenting spoilers to the stories told in the first two. Imagine trying to describe The Return of the King without giving away the suspense of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. The conclusion of Moon's trilogy is equally rich, and equally bound to to volumes that went before.
For that reason, I will not discuss the story in any length, but simply skim.
The "oath" of the title refers to the one sworn by a palladin, to protect the helpless and fight evil in the world. Paks' dream was once simple: to be a soldier. Having achieved that, she yearned to be a knight, an officer in Duke Phelan's command. But always, she has fought evil, growing in her own strength to meet its burgeoning power in the land.
In Oath of Gold, Paks has the chance to fight evil in a more subtle sense; she becomes a Ranger in the forest of Lyonya, that half-Elven domain where trees and Elven Trees intermingle. What she learns from her time there convinces Paks and her superiors that, despite setbacks and errors, she is destined to be a palladin. When this will happen, and how, is unknown to any of them.
While she waits, Paks has the courage to return to the Duke's company as an ordinary soldier, and face the scorn of those who resented her advancement. She has learned too much to stay in the ranks, though, and the trust Duke Phelan reposes in her leads him to give her more and more responsibility.
Her powers remain, and she senses that evil is gathering around the home of the Duke. Something draws the servants of Achrya and Liart to desire the Duke's downfall, even his death. When Paks uncovers why the powers of evil are so concerned with the Duke, it creates a crisis that will involve the intervention of the Elven Court, require her to do battle as his champion at Fin Panir, and spotlight Paksenarrion, a palladin of Gird, as a target for the ultimate torture.
No less thrilling than either of the other two novels, Oath of Gold completes the saga of Paksenarrion, the sheepfarmer's daughter who wanted to be something more, and became something legend. The complete Deed of Paksenarrion is available in an omnibus volume, but I find the individual paperbacks more comfortable to read.
I cannot recommend this trilogy highly enough.
Review of Volume 1, Sheepfarmer's Daughter.
Review of Volume 2, Divided Allegiance.
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