The Deed of Paksenarrion: Sheepfarmer's Daughter / Divided Allegiance / Oath of Gold

The Deed of Paksenarrion: Sheepfarmer's Daughter / Divided Allegiance / Oath of Gold

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by Elizabeth Moon

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Paksenarrion, a simple sheepfarmer's daughter, yearns for a life of adventure and glory, such as was known to heroes in songs and story. At age seventeen she runs away from home to join a mercenary company and begins her epic life. Trained as a mercenary she distinguishes herself, but leaves the Dukes service to follow the path of Gird, the soldier's god. That path…  See more details below


Paksenarrion, a simple sheepfarmer's daughter, yearns for a life of adventure and glory, such as was known to heroes in songs and story. At age seventeen she runs away from home to join a mercenary company and begins her epic life. Trained as a mercenary she distinguishes herself, but leaves the Dukes service to follow the path of Gird, the soldier's god. That path leads her on a holy quest for a lost elven prince that brings the gods' wrath down on her and rests her very limits.

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Publication date:
Deed of Paksenarrion Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.70(d)

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The Deed of Paksenarrion

By Elizabeth Moon

Baen Books

ISBN: 0-7434-7160-1

Chapter One

Sheepfarmer's Daughter

"And I say you will!" bellowed the burly sheepfarmer, Dorthan Kanasson. He lunged across the table, but his daughter Paksenarrion sidestepped his powerful arm and darted down the passage to the sleeping rooms. "Pakse!" he yelled, slipping his broad leather belt from its loops. "Pakse, you come here now!" His wife Rahel and three smaller children cowered against the wall. Silence from the sleeping rooms. "Pakse, you come or it will be the worse for you. Will you go to your wedding with welts on your back?"

"I'll not go at all!" came the angry response.

"The dower's been given. You wed Fersin Amboisson next restday. Now come out before I come in."

Suddenly she stood in the mouth of the passage, as tall as he but slender, long blonde hair braided tightly. She had changed to her older brother's clothes, a leather tunic over her own shirt, and his homespun trousers. "I told you not to give dower. I told you I wouldn't wed Fersin or anyone else. And I won't. I'm leaving."

Dorthan glared at her as he wrapped the belt around his right hand. "The only place you're going, you arrogant hussy, is Fersin's bed."

"Dorthan, please-" began Rahel.

"Quiet! She's your fault as much as anyone's. She should have been spinning at home, not running out on the moors hunting with the boys."

Paksenarrion's gray eyes glinted. "It's all right, Mother; don't worry. He'll remember someday that he's the one who sent me out with the flocks so often. Father, I'm leaving. Let me pass."

"Over my dead body," he grunted.

"If need be-" Paksenarrion leaped for the old sword, Kanas's sword, over the fireplace. As she lifted it from the rack, the belt caught her shoulders with its first stroke. Then she was facing Dorthan, sword in hand, with the firelight behind her. The sword felt easy in her grip. Startled, Dorthan jumped back, swinging the belt wildly in her direction. Paksenarrion took her chance and ran for the door, jerked it open, and was gone. Behind her came his furious bellow, and questioning calls from her brothers still working in the barns, but Paksenarrion did not slow or turn until she came to the boundary stone of her father's land. There she thrust her grandfather's sword into the soil.

"I won't have him saying I stole it," she muttered to herself. She turned for a last look at her home. Against the dark bulk of the hill, she could see light at the open front door, and dark figures crossing and recrossing the light. She could hear voices calling her name, then a deep bellow from Dorthan, and all the shapes went in at the door and shut the light in. She was alone, outside the house, and she knew, as well as if she'd seen him do it, that Dorthan had barred the door against her. She shook herself. "It's what I wanted," she said aloud. "So now I'd better go on with it."

The rest of that night she jogged and walked down the well-worn track from her father's farm to Three Firs, warmed by the thought of the coming adventure. She went over her cousin's instructions time after time, trying to remember everything he'd said about recruiting sergeants and mercenary companies and training and drill. In the first light of dawn she walked into Three Firs. Only in the baker's house did she see a gleam of light behind closed shutters, and a plume of smoke out the chimney. She smelled no baking bread. She could not wait until the first baking came out unless the recruiters were still in Three Firs. She walked on to the marketplace. Empty. Of course, they might not be up yet. She looked in the public barn that served as an inn. Empty. They had left. She drew water from the village well, drank deeply, and started off again, this time on the wider track that led to Rocky Ford-or so her cousin had said; she'd never been beyond Three Firs.

As daylight came, she was able to make better time, but it was nearly noon when she came to the outskirts of Rocky Ford. The rich smells of cooking food from the inns and houses nearly made her sick. She pressed on, through what seemed to her like crowds, to the market square in the town's center. There she saw the booth that Jornoth had told her to look for, draped in maroon and white silk, with spears for cornerposts. She paused to catch her breath and look at it. On either side, a man-at-arms with breastplate, helmet, and sword stood guard. Inside was a narrow table, with one stool before it, and a man seated behind. Paksenarrion took a deep breath and walked forward.

As she reached the booth, she realized that she was taller than either of the men-at-arms. She waited for them to say something, but they ignored her. She looked inside. Now she could see that the man behind the table had gray hair, cropped short, and a neatly trimmed mustache. When he looked up at her, his eyes were a warm golden brown.

"This is a recruiting station for Duke Phelan's Company," he said as he met her gaze. "Were you looking for someone?"

"No. I mean, yes. I mean, I was looking for you-for a recruiting station, I mean." Paksenarrion reddened with embarrassment.

"You?" The man stared a moment, then looked down briefly. "You mean you wanted to join the Company?"

"Yes. My-my cousin said such companies accepted women."

"We do, though not so many want to join. Look-mmm-let's get a few things straight before we start. To join us you must be eighteen winters old, healthy, with no deformities, strong, tall enough-you have no problem there-and not too stupid. If you're a drunkard, liar, thief, or devil-worshipper, we'll throw you out the worse for wear. You agree to serve for two years beyond your basic training, which takes four to six months. You get no pay as a recruit, but you do get room, board, and gear as well as training. Your pay as a private in the Company is low, but you'll share any plunder. Is that clear?"

"Aye," said Paksenarrion. "Clear enough. I'm over eighteen, and I'm never sick. I've been working on the moors, with sheep-I can lift as much as my brother Sedlin, and he's a year older."

"Mmm. What do your parents think of your joining an army?"

"Oh." Paksenarrion blushed again. "Well, to be honest, my father doesn't know that's where I am. I-I ran away."

"He wanted you to wed." The man's eyes had a humorous twinkle.

"Yes. A pig farmer-"

"And you wanted someone else."

"Oh no! I didn't-I don't want to marry at all. I want to be a warrior like my cousin Jornoth. I've always liked hunting and wrestling and being outdoors."

"I see. Here, have a seat on the stool." While she sat down, he fished under the table and came up with a leather-bound book which he laid on top. "Let me see your hands-I have to be sure you don't have any prison brands. Fine. Now-you like wrestling, you say. You've arm wrestled?"

"Surely. With my family, and once at market."

"Good. Give me a try; I want to test your strength." They clasped right hands, and on the count began to push against each other's resistance. After several minutes, with neither moving much, the man said "Fine, that's enough. Now let's go left-handed." This time he had the greater strength, and slowly pushed her arm to the table. "That's good enough," he said. "Now-was this decision to join a sudden one?"

"No. Ever since Jornoth left home-and especially after he came back that time-I've wanted to. But he said I had to be eighteen, and then I waited until the recruiting season was almost over, so my father couldn't trace me and cause trouble."

"You said you'd been on the moors-how far from town do you live?"

"From here? Well, we're a half day's sheep drive from Three Firs-"

"Three Firs! You came here from Three Firs today?"

"We live up the other side of Three Firs," said Paksenarrion. "I came through there before dawn, just at first light."

"But that's-that's twenty miles from Three Firs to here, at least. When did you start from home?"

"Late last night, after supper." At the word, her stomach rumbled loudly.

"You must have gone... thirty miles, I don't doubt. Did you eat in Three Firs?"

"No, it was too early. Besides I was afraid I'd miss you here."

"And if you had?"

"I've a few coppers. I'd have gotten some food here and followed you."

"I'll bet you would have, too," the man said. He grinned at her. "Give us your name, then, and let's get you on the books so we can feed you. Any girl who'll go thirty miles or more on foot without stopping to eat ought to make a soldier."

She grinned back. "I'm Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter."


"Paksenarrion," she said slowly, and paused until he had that down. "Dorthansdotter. Of Three Firs."

"Got it." He raised his voice slightly. "Corporal Bosk."

"Sir." One of the men-at-arms turned to look into the tent.

"I'll need the judicar and a couple of witnesses."

"Sir." The corporal stalked off across the square.

"We have to have it all official," the man explained. "This isn't our Duke's domain; we must prove that we didn't take advantage of you, or force you, or forge your signature... you can sign your name, can't you?"


"Good. The Duke encourages all his troops to learn to read and write. Now-" He broke off as a man in a long maroon gown and two women arrived at the booth.

"Got another one before the deadline, eh, Stammel?" said the man. The women, one in cheesemaker's apron and cap, and the other with flour dusting her hands and arms, looked at Paksenarrion curiously.

"This young lady wishes to join," said Stammel shortly. The man winked at him and took out a stone cylinder with carving on one end. "Now," Stammel continued, "if you'll repeat after me in the presence of the judicar and these witnesses: I, Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter, do desire to join Duke Phelan's Company as a recruit and agree to serve two years in this company after recruit training without leave, and do further agree to obey all rules, regulations, and commands which I may be given in that time, fighting whomever and however my commander directs."

Paksenarrion repeated all this in a firm voice, and signed where she was directed, in the leather-bound book. The two women signed beside her name, and the judicar dripped wax underneath and pressed the stone seal in firmly. The cheesemaker patted Paksenarrion on the shoulder as she turned away, and the judicar gave Stammel a final wink and leer.

"Now then," said Stammel. "I'm Sergeant Stammel, as you may have gathered. We usually leave a town at noon; all the rest of the recruits are at The Golden Pig and have eaten. But you need something in your stomach, and a rest before we march. So we'll wait a bit. From here on, you're a recruit, remember. That means you say 'yes, sir' and 'no, sir' to any of us but other recruits, and you do what you're told with no arguing. Clear?"

"Yes, sir," said Paksenarrion

An hour later, seated by a window, Paksenarrion looked curiously at the other recruits lounging in the courtyard of The Golden Pig. Only two were taller than she: a husky youth with tousled yellow hair, and a skinny black-bearded man whose left arm had a tattooed design on it. The shortest was a wiry redheaded boy with an impudent nose and a stained green velvet shirt. She spotted two other women, sitting together on the steps. None had weapons except a dagger for eating, but the black-bearded man wore a sword-belt. Mostly the recruits looked like farm boys and prentices, with a few puffy-faced men beyond her experience. Only the men-at-arms and the recruiting sergeant were in uniform. The others wore the clothes in which they'd joined. She finished the sandwich in her hand and started another; Stammel had told her to eat hearty and take her time. She had downed four sandwiches when Stammel came in again.

"You look better," he remarked. "Is there a short form of that name of yours?"

Paksenarrion had been thinking about that. She never wanted to hear her father's Pakse again. Her great-aunt, for whom she was named, had been called Enarra, but she didn't like that, either. She had finally decided on a form she thought she could live with.

"Yes, sir," she said. "Just call me Paks, if you wish."

"All right, Paks-ready to march?"

"Yes, sir."

"Come on, then." Stammel led the way to the inn courtyard. The other recruits stared as she came down the steps. "This is Paks," he said. "She'll march in Coben's file today, Corporal Bosk."

"Very good, sir. All right, recruits: form up." The other recruits shuffled into four lines of five persons each, except that the first file was one short. "Paks, you march here." Bosk pointed to the last place in the short file. "Now remember, at the command you all start off on the left foot, march in step, keep even with the rank on your right, and don't crowd the man ahead." Bosk walked around and through the group, shifting one or another an inch this way or that. Paksenarrion watched him curiously until he bawled suddenly, "Eyes front, recruits!" At last he was through fussing (as she thought to herself) and stepped back.

"Good enough, Bosk," said Stammel. "March 'em out."

For the first time in her life, Paksenarrion heard that most evocative of military commands as Bosk drew in a lungful of air and shouted: "Recruits. Forward... MARCH!"

The afternoon's march was only four hours, with two short rest-breaks, but when they halted, Paksenarrion was more tired than she had ever been. Besides the recruits, there were six regulars (Stammel, Bosk, and four privates) and four mules that carried the booth and supplies. In the course of the afternoon, they reviewed (and Paks learned) the correct way to form up, begin marching, and turn in column. She now knew her file number and who her file leader was, and had learned to keep an even distance behind the man in front. Tired as she was, she was in better shape than one of the puffy-faced men. He groaned and complained all afternoon, and finally fell in a faint at the last rest-break. When cold water failed to rouse him, two privates hoisted him over one mule's pack and lashed him there, face down. When he came to, he begged to walk, but Stammel left him there, groaning piteously, until they made camp.

Paksenarrion and the next newest recruit were set to dig the jacks trench at the camp. This was the tall yellow-haired boy; he told her his name was Saben. He had dug the night before, too, and knew how long to make the trench. As they walked back into camp, the tattooed man sneered, "Here come the ditchdiggers-look like a real pair, don't they?"

The man who'd fainted snickered appreciatively. "It took 'em long enough. I'd say they weren't just digging ditches."

Paksenarrion felt her ears steam, but before she got her mouth open, she saw Stammel, behind the others, shake his head at her. Then her file leader, a chunky dark youth named Coben, spoke up.


Excerpted from The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Deed of Paksenarrion: Sheepfarmer's Daughter / Divided Allegiance / Oath of Gold 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My husband baught this book shortly after we were married and begged me for many yrs to read it.When we moved 3000 miles across country lacking anything to do I finally sat down and read the book.I was completly amazed at how captivating a book like that is .Im not a fantasy/sifi fan persay.I mainly stick to historical romances.But I could not put this book down.It had everything I enjoy in a good book.Suspence,mystery,romance,honor,fight for truth n rightiousness.I connected with the book and chars on a different level because Im an avid EverQuest player.And I found the life that Paks lead as a Paladin was much like the rule of play in the game EverQuest.Anyway I now reccomend this book to any who might listen.
new_tribe_counseling More than 1 year ago
I picked up the first book of this trilogy, Sheep Farmer's Daughter over 20 years ago, and I was hooked immediately. Part 2, Divided Allegiance gets a bit tedious at times, however Oath of Gold brings the series to a dramatic conclusion. Great character development combined with skillful story telling. Paks is a hero that anyone can identify with, especially women...she doesn't come from a wealthy, powerful, or famous family, but through her perseverance, humility, and dedication she makes a comeback from great adversity to, ahem, save the day. A year hasn't gone by since first picking up this trilogy that I haven't re-visited Paks!
StickFoster More than 1 year ago
I just turned 61, and I'm nearly done reading the Deeds of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon right now. I read this amazing fantasy trilogy once before, over 30 years ago. Since then, I've given a set to nearly every about-to-be-teenager I know. It's that meaningful, and it's that good. In fact, as I reread it now, I realize how much more awesome these books are than I originally thought. Three decades ago I would have said they were about courage and honor, and they are that; but, page after page, the word which comes to my mind now is "grace." As far as I know, "grace" has never been a weapon in the book reviewer's arsenal, but then I've never claimed to be much of a book reviewer. Fantasy, at its heart, is about good and evil. More to the point, it's about good versus evil, and the lines are generally well drawn. Perhaps they are even too well drawn. J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula LeGuin, C.S. Lewis and a host of others all pointed us toward good. Some, like Stephen Donaldson, even dared to show us the irredeemable, and suggest to us that there was hope for redemption even there. Elizabeth Moon went farther...way farther. She prompted her readers to aspire to grace. Grace as a gift received...and grace as a way of living. As far as I know, no one ever read any of the dozens of copies of Moon's trilogy I gave away, but that doesn't matter. My job is to be gracious, so today I'm going to order another set...just in case.
harleyrider1950 More than 1 year ago
This book, by Elizabeth Moon, is a wonderful book, on par with many of the "classic" fantasy fiction writings. Her description of Paks' growth from a farm girl to a paladin selected by the gods' themselves, makes for an interesting read. The description of military units and how they work together, as well as the way court intrigue plays out, gives a sense of reality to the story. The plot is well done throughout. One part of the plot seemed a stretch; however, overall this was a great read. I am enthusiastically waiting for the release of "Oath of Fealty", a continuation of Paksennarions' saga, that is due out in March.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my top 10 books of all time. I have had many copies of this book, replaced as needed. The Story of Paks is an amazing one. The only thing that would make this book any better is if it was an e-book.
css3 More than 1 year ago
very,very good! well worth the purchase.
DuncanS More than 1 year ago
One of my all time favorite books
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Katdancin More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book. The beginning was a little slow but seemed to pick up as you went along for a short while anyway. Then it would slow down to a crawl for quite awhile, then you would come to some suspense/action that was quite good. The main character and the other characters were the best part of the book. They were really well done. However, the majority of this book was military planning and army strategy and such. Very least for me. As I said, I really wanted to like this book...but didn't. I did not even make it halfway through the book before I cried uncle and put it away. I will not try to finish is at a later date either.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nolly37 More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book based on the paranormal (magic) aspect. I was hooked on the characters and the flow of the writing. I normally do not read anything with a military theme, but in this book it gives the foundation of who Paks builds herself into. I have invested myself in the people in this book, I HAVE to read this once a year it has become family. I would recommend this book if you liked the Lord of The Rings type genre.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down. I flew through it in about a month. It was great.