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Posted May 4, 2014
An Illuminating Prequel to a Stellar Epic Fantasy
<blockquote>Moon's The Deed of Paksennarion has been a blockbuster success in Baen's one-volume trade paper edition--and now the trilogy has a companion. The Legacy of Gird tells of Gird, the liberator, who teaches his people that they can fight--and win--against their Mage-born rulers, and Luap, Gird's sworn follower, who dares not lie and cannot tell the truth--nor face the future.</blockquote>
One if the things that makes these books work so well, especially after having read at least <em>The Deed of Paksenarrion</em>
, is the utter humanity the characters have. They are exactly as they seem, at least in the case of the adult peasants. This doesn't mean that they are incapable of change, but simply that what you see is what you get. Their very coarseness is part of what makes them so believable and so compelling.
Book One, <em>Surrender None</em>
, tells Gird's story from end to end. His family were farmers and were considered to be prosperous for a time, thanks to their hard work and his mother's ability to weave. But Gird is enamored by the local lord's soldiers. Being a large boy he catches the sergeant's eye, and an arrangement is made that he will start training as a soldier when he is a bit older. His parents don't want him to become a soldier; that he will be clothed, fed all meals on the days he works, and earn coppers for his family make them agree. Gird loves being taught how to be a soldier, and though he struggles with learning to read and write, the rest comes quickly. Though difficult, it seems that for a time things are starting to balance out in the cards for Gird, at least not this way. Just before he is to swear his oath to their lord's son, the young count come to take over their vill, an event happens that scars Gird deeply. Gird's response to this event has ramifications that are felt years later. Part of the problem is that the young count is a follower of Liart, about who Gird only knows enough to be afraid.
Time passes as Gird wallows in his shame, getting drunk on a too frequent basis. Eventually he is snapped back into the world, when he meets his future wife, Mali. She is a fantastic character, and the perfect companion for Gird. Each carry scars, emotional or physical, but Mali teaches Gird how to move forward again. They marry and suddenly the family's house is bursting at the seams, between his parents, his brother's family, and now Gird's own young family. Yet no matter how hard Gird works he is unable to even begin rebuilding the family's emergency funds, funds that had been wiped out due to his reaction to one event as a youth. One thing after another goes wrong, not just for Gird and his family, but for peasants everywhere. Taxes continue to increase while harvests continue to decrease; hardships everywhere a body looked. Only a handful of the entire household was alive when the last straw breaks. Gird takes the wounded and the girls to his wife's family for healing/safety, while he and the remaining boy turn outlaw. Still, there is a shadow of doubt over all the problems Gird encounters, a question as to who, or what, is possibly responsible for Gird's non-stop series of hardships. Is it really as basic as it appears, or is there more at work here than he's willing to acknowledge?
He takes the military training from his youth and slowly begins to organize other outlaw groups. A priest of Esea, who had been expelled for questioning everythingthing, introduces him to some of gnomes. Because Gird has a vision for the land once the peasants have won free of the magelords, they agree to teach him about the Law. After much great struggle and loss both North and South have been broken by Gird's followers. Yet the people refuse to practice the new laws of justice, kind for kind, like for like, equal weights in all markets to ensure equal value of coins. Though Gird struggles with making them understand, he is fighting an uphill battle, particularly when it comes to peasants accepting mages - not the old magelords, but the children they were breeding for mage powers. Gird understands the peoples' fears, having struggled with it himself upon learning that Selamis had lied to him, repeatedly, concealing the fact that he had mage powers and was a bastard son of the late king (hence the nickname "Luap," which literally means a bastard). Gird was horrified that children who'd done nothing wrong but a show an affinity for magic end up stoned to death because of it. In the end Gird calls upon the Gods once again for help, and receives it, just not how he may have imagines it.
Book two, <em>Liar's Oath</em>
, deals with the people's struggles to put Gird's laws into action to amend them as necessary for those scenarios Gird had never envisioned. The ongoing distrust between the peasants and the mageborn continue to present problems for all. Women that remain as yeoman on up to Marshal find more and more resistance to their continued involvement now that the war is over.
Luap, though not named Marshal, is given a blue tabard to wear and takes the title of Archivist. He also undertakes the challenge of writing Gird's life story in such a way as to preserve it for those to follow many generations into the future. However he and Rahi, Gird's only remaining child, disagree on Luap's interpretation of the story. Rahi isn't alone in her frustration either, for Luap is using far too much creative license in the telling if Gird's story. He changes things, making some much more dramatic, leaving some out altogether, and making some up from whole cloth. His version reads like the tales of the heroes of old, when in reality Gird was nothing like them.
Both Seri and Aris have numerous adventures and experiences, being considered two halves of the same whole, for all that Seri is a peasant and Aris is mageborn. Quite a stir is caused when it comes out that Aris has one of the rarest forms of magery, the gift of healing. Gird has the law changed again to allow healing magery practiced, but someone must be with him to ensure no harm is done. Of course Seri is the one with him, she is training to become a Marshal and has a clear, unwavering faith in Father Gird. Both were young enough when the war was happening that a Gird was more like a father to them than not, though of course they'd not say that to him in public. While Seri is constantly taking care of Aris during and after a healing, no one really notices the changes she is going through, probably as much because the changes were subtle as due to her outgoing nature. But it is clear after one event that Aris and Seri are being set up to be the originals, the very first of something connected directly to Gird in future generations. Never fear, if you don't see it right away it is made crystal clear by the end of the tale.
Using the mageroad Luap finds a stronghold carved into beautiful stone cliffs, and eventually gets approval for any mageborn that desire to join him in living there. However before he brings anyone he is met by both Elven and Dwarven representatives. They eventually agree to allow him to bring people to live there, but he must sign an oath to these Elders, outlining their requirements to be met if an of the lateborn are to reside in that place. Thus does the reader learn some of what happened in the magnificent hall that was discovered via the scrolls Paksenarrion gave to the Archivist at Fin Panir, preparing the reader for both of the following series, <em>The Deed of Paksenarrion</em>
and <em>Paladin's Legacy</em>
Posted October 27, 2004
This tale, along with Deed of Paksenarrian, is an incredible epic of fantasy and military strategy. The ending is somewhat open leaving one to wonder if there will be a third chronicle. In all, this would be right up there with the Covenant novels in terms of emotional investment in a world.
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