Literature: The Deed of Paksenarrion
In a sheepfarmer's low stone house, high in the hills above Three Firs, two swords hang now above the mantelpiece. [...] The other is a very different matter: long and straight, keen-edged, of the finest sword-steel, silvery and glinting blue even in yellow firelight. The pommel's knot design is centered with the deeply graven seal of St. Gird; the cross-hilts are gracefully shaped and chased in gold. The first series written by Elizabeth Moon first released in 1988, a work of Heroic Fantasy divided into three books:
[Old Dorthan reminds his grandchildren] of the day a stranger rode up, robed and mantled in white, an old man with thin silver hair, and handed down the box [with a scroll] and the sword, naked as it hangs now.
"Keep these," the stranger said, "in memory of your daughter Paksenarrion. She wishes you to have them and has no need of them." And though he accepted water from their well, he would say no more of Paksenarrion, whether she lived or lay buried far away, whether she would return or no.
The scroll Dorthan reads is headed The Deed of Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter of Three Firs, and many are the tales of courage and adventure written therein.
— Prologue, Sheepfarmer's Daughter
- Sheepfarmer's Daughter - 18 year old Paksenarrion ("Paks" for short) runs away from home and an unwanted Arranged Marriage to become a warrior. She signs up with the mercenary company of Duke Phelan, undergoes training and fights in her first wars. She comes out relatively well for it but starts to wonder whether she's always going to be fighting for the right reasons and where her allegiances ought to lie.
- Divided Allegiance - Paks leaves the mercenaries to enter training as a paladin candidate in the order of Saint Gird. In the process she meets and travels with the other races of the kingdom and also has an encounter with the kingdom's Religion of Evil that does not end well for her, threatening her future and livelihood.
- Oath of Gold - Broken from the events at the end of Divided Allegiance, Paks must come to her senses, regain her courage and rediscover her calling to Paladin-hood even without the formal organization of Gird's order. Also, there's the question of a lost king she goes on a quest to find. And the aforesaid Religion of Evil - Achrya the Webmistress and Liart, the god of torment - are still hard at work.
All three books are available in a compiled omnibus edition. Moon would later write a pair of prequel books about Gird himself, Surrender None
and Liar's Oath
, collectively titled The Legacy Of Gird
. A second series of a projected five books, set after The Deed of Paksenarrion
and entitled Paladin's Legacy
is also in progress. Oath of Fealty
, Kings of the North
, Echoes of Betrayal
(formerly announced as Crisis of Vision
) and Limits of Power
have already been published.
- Oath of Fealty - A continuation with Paks as a background character, showing the effects of Oath of Gold. The lost king of Lyonya has been found, but now he must learn to rule a people and a culture he has never known. The void he left behind him in his old life must now be filled by his loyal deputy, who never expected to command. And the traitorous duke of Tsaia has been slain and his entire family placed under Order of Attainder... except for one expatriate mercenary captain who is now suddenly finding themself the new duke, having to bring peace and order to a domain deeply tainted by Liart. Add in that someone is attempting to shatter the Guild League alliance of the South and, well, the reward for a job well done is another, even harder job.
- Kings of the North - Kieri, new King of Lyonya, and Dorrin, new Duke of the traitorous house Verrakai struggle to set their lands in order as a mounting threat to the south rises. Kieri's human advisors and subjects pressure him to marry, while his elven family are strangely distant. The continuing rumblings of an unsettled peace and frightened princess from hostile lands only add to the problems facing the former mercenaries.
- Echoes of Betrayal - Arvid, a thief that at one point worked with Paks, starts on his own hero's journey with the Fellowship of Gird. Arcolin, Kieri's successor in the mercenary company, deals with gnomes and brings his fighters into conflict with a pirate king. All of the northern countries are dealing with magery reappearing—and those who will kill anyone who shows it, even children. Meanwhile, Kieri tries to heal the relationship between humans and elves... after a terrible strike by the iynisin dark elves.
- Limits of Power - Civil war over magery in the population strikes Fintha, at the same time the iynisin launch invasions of their own against the elves. Kieri must find a way to release the ancient magelords from their enchanted sleep, because it's the only chance Dragon has to imprison the iynisin in the stone once again.
The inspiration to write Paks allegedly came from Moon watching people play paladins in Dungeons & Dragons
and deciding "such a person wouldn't act like that
" - perhaps the players in question were playing their characters as Lawful Stupid
, something the book averts tremendously.
Provides Examples Of:
- Action Girl - Paks
- Adaptation Expansion: The second arc of Divided Allegiance is essentially a play-through of the classic Dungeons and Dragons module "The Village of Hommlett" with the names changed. Many of the major characters are fleshed out considerably and given more background particularly Marshall Kedfer and Yeoman Marshall Ambros (Canon Terjon and Calmert in the module) and the thief Arvid Seminson (Fernok of Ferd in the module).
- The Alcoholic: Mal the forester.
- He's a happy, hearty imbiber of large amounts of beer, but he's never actually drunk.
- Gird himself had drinking problems. The reason his code features several sections about the dangers of drunkenness was to discourage other people from repeating his mistakes.
- Always Chaotic Evil: The kuaknom.
- Anyone Can Die: Except Paks.
- Arranged Marriage - Paks flees one.
- Asexuality: Paks just isn't interested, she's even asked at one point if she prefers women (she doesn't), having rejected the advances of men in her cohort, and she maintains her disinterest through the whole story.
- Attempted Rape: Almost happens at the hands of resident Jerk Ass Korryn during the early days of Paks' time with the Duke's company. And she is actually raped, repeatedly, when she surrenders herself to the priests of Liart near the end of Oath of Gold in order to buy Kieri time to reach Lyonya.
- Battle Couple: Barra and Natzlin.
- Barranyi is much more prominent as a character. Natzlin isn't so much a Lipstick Lesbian as just quiet.
- Blessed with Suck: Promotions and magic gifts not always being all they're cracked up to be is a major theme of the sequel series.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Mal the forester.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Achrya and Liart each have this as a crucial part of their natures. Achrya has a severe Complexity Addiction and her role as The Corrupter means she can never just shoot him. Liart is Stupid Evil to the point that his priests would willingly give up the captured king who is the point of the whole prince in exchange for a few days of torturing a paladin.
- Siniava in the first book mostly averted this.
- Call That A Formation: Averted. Almost everyone major group does formation fighting, with some exceptions.
- Can't Argue with Elves / Screw You, Elves!: Human characters will express their opinion of haughty elves along the lines of the latter, but generally in private because of the former.
- Averted in that Paks spends at least half the third book arguing with elves, and does so without needing to enter Screw You, Elves! territory. She even analyzes why she can:
Paksenarrion: (thought balloon) Humans need not, Paks saw, worship their immortality, their cool wisdom, their knowledge of the taig, their ability to repattern mortal perceptions. In brief mortal lives humans met challenges no elf could meet, learned strategies no elf could master, chose evil or good more direct and dangerous than elf could perceive. Humans were shaped for conflict, as elves for harmony; each needed the other's balance of wisdom, but must cleave to its own nature. It was easy for an immortal to counsel patience, withdrawal until a danger passed... She took courage, therefore, and felt less the Lady's weight of age and experience. That experience was elven, and not all to her purpose. Kieri Phelan himself was but half-elven; his right to kingship came with his mortal blood. And as she found herself regarding the Lady with less awe, but no less respect, the Lady met her eyes with dawning amazement.
- Though Kings of the North dives into "played straight" territory with the Screw You, Elves!: The Lady of Ladysforest refuses to help Kieri co-rule Lyonya as is her duty, tries to prevent one of the Kings Squires (Arian) from marrying Kieri by insulting Arian in front of Arian's father and an assembled court of elves, THEN gets herself trapped underground due to her rude behavior to the gnomes and tries to blame it on Arian. Kieri, Dorrin Verrakai, Arian and a dragon all call the Lady out on this, Dorrin especially: "High rank never excuses wrong behavior".
- The Lady of the Ladysforest, the High Queen of the elven race, later confirms the accuracy of these observations.
The Lady: We singers of the world, who shrink from disharmony, may choose silence instead of noise, and not always rightly.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: A hobby of the priests of Liart, at at the root of at least one Crowning Moment for Paks.
- Church Militant: Most religious orders of the world have a branch of these.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Mal again.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Averted with the High Lord, a nigh-universally acknowledged god whose celebrations tend to be folk festivals. It's the minor gods and their churches that collectively function as Crystal Dragon Jesus, such as St. Gird.
- Cynicism Catalyst: For Duke Phelan, see Hollywood Atheist. In book three we learn that his wife and children were murdered while he was away from his castle, and he blames the Girdsmen for not foreseeing or preventing the disaster, and St. Gird for not saving his wife, when his wife was very strong in her faith. This doesn't drive him to anti-heroism, mind — it just means that he isn't on speaking terms with any faith, least of all Girdsmen.
- Demoted to Extra: The "Paladin's Legacy" series is about the aftermath of Paks' deeds in the third book, and focuses mainly on Kieri and Dorrin. Paks herself is relegated to recurring minor character. "Liar's Oath" relegates Gird to one (Who dies halfway through); the book is about Luap.
- Detect Evil: Basic paladin power, which usually manifests as having a good or bad "feeling" about someone. But part of a paladin's training is accepting that "Detect Evil" usually works only on the very wicked. Most people are a mix of good and evil, and their intentions are less clear-cut.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Luap is a term that refers to someone with rank but no real authority. The man known as Luap to the followers of Gird was referred to as "Gird's Luap" or just "the Luap" so frequently even in his own time that few people remembered that his real name was Selamis. By Paks' time his real name was completely forgotten.
- A Father to His Men: Duke Phelan. Certainly some of the other mercenary dukes as well, but Phelan takes a fatherly interest in Paks' development above and beyond the call of duty, even after she leaves his company.
- At least partly because Paks is roughly the same age as his daughter would have been.
- This is essentially a requirement for promotion above corporal in Duke Phelan's company. All of Sergeant Stammel's recruits look up to him like the father they wish they had but those recruited by his replacement Dzerdya feel the same way about her. After the capture of Sibili there is a scene where the Duke discusses the campaign with his captains and they all agree that the new captain hired for the campaign can't cut it because he lacks this bond.
- Fantasy Pantheon: The High Lord and his saints, a bevy of regional gods and goddesses.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Paks' huge black warhorse...Socks.
- Gender Is No Object: In the Eight Kingdoms, women and men fight together with no distinctions made between them. The cultures of Aarenis in the south are less egalitarian.
- Good Is Not Nice: Master Oakhollow. Averted with the Paladins, whose niceness is a key part of what makes them effective.
- Healing Hands: One of the paladin's powers.
- Heroic Seductress: Delores Martine from Oath of Fealty repeatedly seduces Tony Rand, in order to keep him calm and lucid while he has to come up with a rescue plan.
- Hollywood Atheist: Averted. Duke Kieri Phelan has no love for Girdsmen and their marshals, thanks to a Cynicism Catalyst. However, he is never shown to be a bad person because of his atheism — in fact, his personal honor is a byword. It's not the gods' existence that he denies, he just distances himself from the church of Gird. But, as it turns out, in a world where evil gods exist and take a vested interest in human affairs, it definitely helps to have servants of Good on your side.
- Hollywood Tactics: Averted. Elizabeth Moon went through UMSC Officer Candidate School and did four years in the Corps, and has degree in history. She knows what she's doing when it comes to battles.
- Hufflepuff House: The Golden Company. Most of the major mercenary characters are in either Phelan's company or the Halveric's. While the Clarts don't have any major named character they have a massive role in Paksenarrion's portion of the campaign in Aarenis so they get rather a lot of screentime. Vladi's company has a clear specialty (Pike infantry) and religious affiliation (Tir). Pretty much the only thing we get to learn about the Golden company is that they're led by a woman.
- Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: A non literal example. To be turned out tinisi turin is the worst punishment short of death for a mercenary soldier turned out of the force under disgrace: publicly stripped, a full-body shave, beaten, branded then expelled.
- Specifically, tinisi turin is being shaved completely; it means to be shorn like a sheep, and is a common humiliating punishment. The flogging, branding, and expulsion are separate and (obviously) more serious.
- Jerk Ass: Macenion.
- Killed Off Screen: Frequently, especially in the first novel. After being set up as a potential Big Bad the Wolf Prince is unceremoniously killed off in a separate campaign while Paks is on guard duty. Many of Paks' comrades meet similar fates. Special mention goes to Bosk, Dzerdya, and Donag who die in the siege of Dwarfwatch without their deaths even being specifically acknowledged by the narration.
- Knight in Shining Armor
- Legend Fades to Myth: Gird is considered to be either a saint or a god in The Deed Of Paksenarrion; then the author went back and wrote the Legacy of Gird books to show what really happened.
- Magic Knight
- Moses in the Bullrushes
- The Munchkin: Macenion.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
- No Sense of Humor: Gnomes are absolute Lawful Neutral with No Sense of Humor, believing that only they know and follow the true laws laid down at creation by the High Lord.
- One Steve Limit: Subverted. Plenty of throwaway characters share a name with major characters. There are, however, no main charaters with the same name.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Though they play mostly bit parts or background characters.
- Our Elves Are Better: You've effectively got high elves, definitely dark elves in the form of the kuaknom, plus half-elves and elf-blooded humans.
- Our Gnomes Are Weirder: They're absolutely Lawful Neutral, believing that only they know and follow the true laws laid down at creation by the High Lord.
- The Paladin
- Patronymic: This seems to be the practice in Paks' hometown at the very least. Her last name is Dorthansdotter, and her father is Dorthan Kanasson. Quite a few other people, mostly from the north, also have patronymics.
- Private Military Contractors: Duke Phelan's company and and many other nobles; a major source of income for their fiefs.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Averted. Paks does get raped during her torture at the end of the series, but it's only mentioned in passing. And justifiably so - it really is one of the least horrific things done to her during that time.
- Religion of Evil: Liart the god of torment; the Webmistress Achrya
- The Resenter: Barra.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Apparently, in elvish, reversing the spelling of a name inverts its meaning — hence the elves (sinyi, singers) are opposed by their evil kin the iynis (unsingers), and the gods Adyan the Namer and Sertig the Maker have their counterparts Nayda the Unnamer and Gitres the Unmaker.
- Sergeant Rock: Sergeant Stammel, Phelan's training sergeant.
- Though Stammel is a lot nicer than most versions of this trope. Corporal Bosc or Swordmaster Sejek fit the trope better.
- Skeptic No Longer: Paks transitions into this: in Sheepfarmer's Daughter she starts off not knowing about Gird and doubts the over-zealous Effa's professions about him (particularly after Effa dies). Then it becomes evident that the gods have an interest in protecting her and as she learns more about Gird she starts coming around.
- Effa is an obnoxious evangelist. Paks has more issue with the problem of evil: why don't the benevolent gods protect good people? At least in a setting with evil gods as well there's some justification, but the Marshal-General largely shrugs and says nobody knows why the gods seem to act through clerics instead of directly. She does have more solid theological material, too.
- Paks goes on a skeptic journey. First she's dubious about the idea of worshipping saints. Then she warms up to Gird and joins the Fellowship. Then she leaves, and swears fealty to multiple gods, eventually telling the Marshal-General that she's no longer under the command of the Fellowship, though she remains Girdish.
- Starter Villain: Siniava.
- Thieves' Guild: Plays an important role in Oath of Gold
- Truce Zone: Valdaire, the truce city where the mercenaries stay the winter and train.
- Uncoffee: Sib, a warming and revitalizing beverage. It's bags of bitter herbs steeped in hot water, often mixed with honey — a lot like tea — except that tea also exists in this universe, and sib is different.
- There is another beverage named "asar", which may be a candidate for this trope, but we are never given any insight into the properties of asar beyond it being hot and having restorative properties attributed to it.
- Warrior Monk: the paladins
- White Magic / Black Magic: Powers granted by good and evil gods/saints to their paladins, marshals, priests, clerics, etc. There are wizards with a different, neutral form of Functional Magic that is never fully expanded on in the main trilogy though elements of Rule Magic are hinted at. Magery is a hereditary power associated with the old mostly-evil aristocracy and the god of torture, and is banned in all civilized lands.
- Word of God: Elizabeth Moon maintains a Paksenarrion website.