The Deed of Paksenarrion
|The Deed of Paksenarrion|
Cover of both the paperback (PB)
and hardcover (HC) editions.
|Cover artist||Keith Parkinson|
|Publication date||February 1992|
|Media type||Print (Paperback|
|ISBN||978-0-671-72104-6 (first edition)
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 22|
|LC Classification||PS3563.O557 D44 1992|
|Preceded by||Surrender None|
|Followed by||Liar's Oath|
The Deed of Paksenarrion is an epic fantasy saga by the American author Elizabeth Moon. The Deed of Paksenarrion was originally published in three volumes in 1988 and 1989 and as a single trade edition of that name in 1992 by Baen. The three books included are Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance and Oath of Gold. Sheepfarmer's Daughter was awarded the Compton Crook Award by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society for the author's first fantasy novel.
A single volume prequel about the life of Paksenarrion's guiding saint was published in 1990, and followed by a sequel tying characters from both works together.
A new series is in progress, set immediately after the Deed, with the first volume released in 2010, the second in 2011, and the third in 2012. A further two volumes are expected.
The original trilogy and the two Gird-related books were first published as mass market paperbacks, before being collected as trade paperback omnibus editions. The new series is being published in hardcover.
The Deed of Paksenarrion 
- The Deed of Paksenarrion omnibus (February 1992), hardcover (October 2003)
- Sheepfarmer’s Daughter (ISBN 978-0-671-65416-0, June 1988)
Free online copy (HTML; other formats available) from the Baen Free Library.
- Divided Allegiance (ISBN 978-0-671-69786-0, October 1988)
- Oath of Gold (ISBN 978-0-671-69798-3, January 1989)
The Legacy of Gird 
- The Legacy of Gird omnibus (ISBN 978-0-671-87747-7, September 1996)
- Surrender None (ISBN 978-0-671-69878-2, June 1990) – prequel to The Deed of Paksenarrion
- Liar's Oath (ISBN 978-0-671-72117-6, May 1992) – sequel to both Surrender None and The Deed of Paksenarrion
Paladin's Legacy 
- Oath of Fealty (ISBN 978-0-345-50874-4, March 2010)
- Kings of the North (ISBN 978-0-345-50875-1, March 2011)
- Echoes of Betrayal (ISBN 978-0-345-50876-8, March 2012)
Two further instalments are expected.
The Deed of Paksenarrion was written as one long story, but published as three separate books. A number of people have pointed out resemblances between the story setting and Dungeons & Dragons, in particular alleged similarities between Moon's town of Brewersbridge and Hommlet (a village in The Temple of Elemental Evil module for AD&D) and between Moon's religion of Gird and the faith of Saint Cuthbert of the Cudgel in Greyhawk. However, such themes may often be similarly found in many brands of high fantasy, and are not unique to any one fictional world.
The Deed of Paksenarrion revolves around the adult life of Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter, known as Paks, of Three Firs. It takes place in a fictional medieval world of kingdoms of humans, dwarves, gnomes and elves.
The story begins by introducing Paks as a headstrong girl of 18, who leaves her home in Three Firs (fleeing a marriage arranged by her father) to join a mercenary company and through her journeys and hardships comes to realize that she has been gifted as a paladin, if in a rather non-traditional way.
The Deed of Paksenarrion has an engrossing religious theme. The world is presented as polytheistic; there is a "High Lord" followed by supposedly lesser deities and saints, such as Gird, Falk, etc., who serve it. There are also several references to the World tree and other animistic aspects of the natural world. This work encompasses themes such as "Hero as Redeemer" and "Hero as Saint" as described in Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The trilogy also deals with the concepts of absolute good versus absolute evil, the death of friends and loved ones, and an enlightened look into the origin of courage and fear.
One of the most significant themes of 'The Deed of Paksenarrion' is the balance of gender and the role of women. Women are portrayed as powerful leaders and strong fighters. They are accepted and praised as much as men. The book's protagonist is female, as is the Marshall-General of the fellowship of Gird, the book's primary religious sect.
However, Ryk E. Spoor has stated:
Paksenarrion was born (according to an email exchange I had with the author) from bad roleplaying: Elizabeth Moon, not gaming herself, heard some people playing "Paladins" (Holy warriors in the service of a god) and doing so very poorly. Her reaction was of course that "such a person wouldn't act like that"... and in thinking about what they would act like, Paksenarrion was born.
The author herself had this to say about the book:
Source material, as well as inspiration, for the Paksenarrion books might be of interest to some. The various legal systems are taken from the following: F. S. Lear's Treason in Roman and Germanic Law (specifically for the dwarf and gnome races), K. F. Drew's The Lombard Laws and The Burgundian Code, and other sources on medieval law, including a difficult-to-find translation of the Visigothic Code by A. Wilhelmsen. The development of the Code of Gird derives from the development of "barbarian" legal codes adapting Roman Law, shifts in English law during and after the Norman Conquest, and the development of "human rights-based" changes in law in and following the Enlightenment. Different city-states and nation-states were given different "balances" of the source material. Military history sources for both military science and military psychology included Herodotus, Xenophon, Thucydides, Caesar, and other classical sources, Conan Doyle's novel The White Company, Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, Sherman's Memoirs, and many others. Village life and crafts, in outline and detail, are taken from multiple sources on medieval/early Renaissance crafts and life, including the Surtees Society's collection of historical sources for that period. Further influences on the social and political aspects came from cultural anthropology sources. Historical sources suggesting the development of a paladin character ranged from Xenophon and Caesar (on the military side) and Plato, Aristotle, and Plutarch (for both military and general character consideration) to the "Chanson de Roland" and the Grail legends, with side journeys into other cultures (Scandinavian, Amerindian, Islamic). The history of Christianity and especially the incorporation of local heroes into "saint" roles (Joan of Arc in France, others in many other Catholic countries) provided historical background for development of Paksenarrion, Gird, and other hero-saints in that fictional universe.
The inspiration for "doing a paladin right" was the definition of paladin outlined in the D&D game; the specific character of Paksenarrion derived from historical figures (including Joan of Arc) and a mix of individuals known to the author. The specific character of Gird-farmer had roots in historical and fictional accounts of peasant/slave/worker uprisings; Gird-legend shared characteristics of several legendary (mythical and fictional) folk and religious heroes.
Questions explored in the books include the nature of the military mind, the character of the good soldier and the good commander, the essential characteristics of a hero and a paladin, the potential conflicts between what it takes to be a good soldier and what it takes to be a great hero, relationship between a paladin and his/her co-religionists (clergy, laity) and between a paladin and those not of the same belief, the source of a paladin's "commission" (e.g., who decides that someone is a paladin? how is that marked?), the essential characteristics of a hero-saint, the internal characteristics and outward influences that shape a hero-saint's actions and effects, the ways that subsequent generations redefine the meaning of earlier events and how that interpretation influences their actions.
- Ebbers, A. F. (April 13, 1989). "Writer wins award, Marine Corps tour helped publish book". Austin American-Statesman.
- Spoor, Ryk E. (October 28, 2003). "The Deed of Paksenarrion: Reviews: The true Way of the Paladin is shown here". Amazon.com. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
- Moon, Elizabeth (May 11, 2007). "Elizabeth Moon: Bibliography". Wikipedia.