WIB: Oct 27-Nov 2 (NaBlo: Day 4)
This week I read a book! One whole book! It was a slow book. But not a bad book.
Sheepfarmer’s Daughter by Elizabeth Moon is the first of a trilogy called The Deed of Paksennarion and is…oh no…a FANTASY NOVEL. Like, high fantasy. Swords and sorcery, although the first book has about 99% of the former and 1% of the latter. It was suggested to me by my husband. The blurbs I’ve read about it say things like “the true heir of Tolkein” and I have to agree: this book is VERY DETAILED and VERY SLOW and NOT MUCH HAPPENS.
Which is not to say it’s bad. It’s not. It’s the story of Paks running away from home and joining a mercenary company in a land far from her home. She doesn’t want to marry some guy her father has chosen for her, and why should she? But mostly she has no interest in men; she only has interest into becoming a soldier or something soldier-like.
It’s obvious that Moon has military experience; her descriptions of life in the ranks seem very real, despite the fantasy period and setting. And of course I’ll read that with interest, as my husband is in the military now. My husband doesn’t really work with a lot of women, so it’s interesting to see how women and men interact in this. But it’s almost two hundred pages of what it’s like as a recruit. The battles are interesting not because they’re action but because in some ways they feel like inaction. They make our movie action sequences seem faker than they already are.
Paks is a good soldier but she’s no Mary Sue. She has flaws, the biggest of which is naivete, but not so much so that you can’t help but see her as a wide-eyed moron. She doesn’t always do things well, but she does her best, and you want her to succeed because of it. Her friends come and go, and then more people with similar or the same names come to replace them. Again, the realism: she’s surrounded by Sims and Sabens the way you and I are surrounded by Michaels and Roberts. It’s hard to keep some of the characters apart, but in a way they’re all just bits of the whole fighting force and it doesn’t matter.
Paks is, of course, special in her own way, and that oh…so…slowly comes to pass as the book goes on and magic becomes a growing force in the book. But it never becomes much of one; magic is rare and its instances are few and far between, so much so that to most of the characters in the book, it exists the same way the gods do. Magic might be there. It’s probably there. It’s around you…somehow. And other people are far more sure than you.
The gods come into play as well, through magic, but I don’t want to get much into the plot, as little as there is.
I’m interested enough to read the book but not so much that I went straight to it, and wouldn’t have even if I didn’t have this book to read. But I’ll get to it later in the month.