Elizabeth Moon

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Elizabeth Moon

Postby thepaladin on Friday, 06 February 2009, 4:20 pm

I note that Elizabeth Moon is completely omitted from your lists. Not surprising I suppose as her “space operas” don’t appeal much to me either. While I find them comparable to say, Andre Norton, they are nothing to “write home about” as they say. Still, there are 3 books that (admittedly in my opinion) rise almost to the level of stand-out literature.

As you can probably deduce from my screen name, I’ve long been fascinated by the paladin character. On the whole you almost had to go into historical works to find good and straight treatment of the paladin. Galahad, Roland, these you can find. Lancelot the flawed and fallen paladin is the more frequent model used by modern writers. Interestingly Michael Moorecock makes a connection with these and others at least obliquely in his “Eternal Champion Cycle”. There is what looks like an attempt at an almost direct connection between Elric and Roland.


Most often today the parody is the chosen approach to the paladin. The idea of a champion dedicated to good (or dare I say it, God. Especially the “Christian” God.) is not so much “in favor” at the present time. Tolkien wasn’t worried about that of course. Aragorn, Frodo, and especially Sam are arguably models of the paladin. C. S. Lewis’s Ransom , while a not so subtle Christ figure is also a paladin. Today however in the hands of writers such as Mercedes Lackey the paladin is more often treated as a buffoon than a character to be handled seriously.

Enter Elizabeth Moon and “Paksenarrion”. While I’m sure there are those who will totally disagree with me, I find this trilogy (The Sheep Farmer’s Daughter” , Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold ) one of the best works of high fantasy (or simply fiction for that matter) post Tolkien. If you haven’t read it, try it. While the second in the set is slightly flawed compared to the first and third (the subject matter it deals with is heavier and thus requires more a critical look) It is still well above the norm. This is (I believe) quite simply the best handling of a very difficult character I’ve read in modern literature.

That of course always causes me to wonder what happened in most of her other works. I suppose it could simply be that they are aimed at a younger audience and therefore far simpler. A lot of authors write what I used to call “rent books”. It seemed maybe the rent was due and they needed some income. A rather pompous thing for me to say if you think about it as I haven’t been published (yet I hope).

So, that's my take on Elizabeth Moon. She wrote one of my favorite books (The trilogy here being considered one book. There are several single volume editions) and some of the ones I’ve found most forgettable. I hope that the magic of Paksenarrion will reappear, but even if it doesn’t I still have the first “epic”.
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Re: Elizabeth Moon

Postby DavidTate on Sunday, 08 February 2009, 12:22 am

thepaladin wrote:Enter Elizabeth Moon and “Paksenarrion”. While I’m sure there are those who will totally disagree with me, I find this trilogy (The Sheep Farmer’s Daughter” , Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold ) one of the best works of high fantasy (or simply fiction for that matter) post Tolkien.
Are these the same thing as the contents of the Baen omnibus The Deed of Paksenarrion ? I have had that sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now, but have never gotten around to reading it. It came highly recommended.
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Re: Elizabeth Moon

Postby thepaladin on Sunday, 08 February 2009, 12:30 am

Yes. The Deed of Paksenarrion is the triology in one vol. I also highly recommend it. One of my favorite all time books.
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Re: Elizabeth Moon

Postby Vomaxx on Monday, 03 August 2009, 11:21 pm

Ms. Moon is now working on a sequel to the three Paksennarion books, although I have no idea when it may be available.
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Re: Elizabeth Moon

Postby PeterWilliam on Saturday, 07 November 2009, 11:24 am

Indeed, the first comes out in 2010. I interviewed her a couple of months ago and asked her a few questions on them.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
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Re: Elizabeth Moon

Postby kreigfoster on Sunday, 30 January 2011, 12:07 pm

I'm intrigued by the phrase "a rainbow world of relativism", though. Could you give me an example of a work you would characterize that way?
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Re: Elizabeth Moon

Postby charleshudgen on Friday, 13 April 2012, 7:29 am

Deed of Paksenarrion is the triology in just one volume (combines Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold). It is highly recommended and it is my current favorite to read.
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Re: Elizabeth Moon

Postby gilroy on Tuesday, 11 June 2013, 6:53 am

Hello dear all very well On the whole you almost had to go into historical works to find good and straight treatment of the paladin. Galahad, Roland, these you can find I suppose it could simply be that they are aimed at a younger
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Re: Elizabeth Moon

Postby ArnoKA on Tuesday, 17 September 2013, 7:42 am

Is it bad manners to write a negative opinion of a book highly recommended and enthusiastically supported
on this Forum? I am just so angry with myself, having wasted money and time on The Deed of Paksenarrion,
that I must let some steam out.

Two thirds of the book is military fantasy, a feminist offspring of Heinlein's Starship Troopers, expertly and
very realistically written (save occasional flashes of wizardry). Here my trouble is just that I don't like military
fantasy much whether they are fighting with stoneaxes or rayguns or anything in between.

Rest of the book describes interestingly and sometimes movingly Paksenarrion's Via Dolorosa to paladinhood.
It is a Tolkien-pastiche expanded with Evil Gods (nasty, sadistic and silly -- always stumbling over their own
badness) and with Catholic-sounding religiosity (prayer-answering, miracle-working Saints and amulets), all
this culminating in the five days' torture-session, so explicitly described it comes uncomfortably near to
sadomasochist pornography.

There is a fantasy series I rather like: C. J. Cherryh's Fortress in the Eye of Time and its sequels. The hero
(or paladin, if you like) Tristen is as sexless and as humorless as Paksenarrion. But Ms. Cherryh portrays him
with humor and wit. There is the difference.

I highly recommend it.
Last edited by ArnoKA on Wednesday, 02 October 2013, 5:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Elizabeth Moon

Postby ArnoKA on Monday, 23 September 2013, 2:44 am

I would like to add to my diatribe that the most detestable thing in The Deed of Paksenarrion is the
gushing "foreword" (not labeled as such; in BAEN Tenth printing 2010) by Ms. Judith Tarr. She writes:

"This is the Fourth Age as it has to have been. This is the real thing."

This is nonsense. The Deed of Paksenarrion has no connection whatsoever, not "geographically" nor
"historically", with the Third Age of Middle Earth.
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Re: Elizabeth Moon

Postby ArnoKA on Sunday, 01 December 2013, 9:26 am

Just an afterword:

I am feeling like Kaiser Wilhelm II: “I stand in shining armor” an unnotched sword in hand, on an empty battlefield. Where are all the supporters of The Deed of Paksenarrion?

I have very bad conscience about poor Ms. thepaladin. As I wrote at the beginning of my diatribe, I was angry with myself having wasted time and money on this book, too stupid to understand that it was not meant for me at all but for military-minded feminists with strong Christian beliefs.

For them, I think, it is a well written and satisfactory book. And very popular in deed. Ten printings in nine years for the BAEN edition alone!

I wonder why not one raised her voice against me?
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Re: Elizabeth Moon

Postby ArnoKA on Thursday, 20 February 2014, 8:36 am

I just can't forget the nauseous memory of the "foreword" written by Ms. Judith Tarr. What it is that makes second rate writers of all genders to do this sort of lying for the books of their fellows? Is it just gentlemanly (or -womanly) agreement: "scratch my back and I'll scratch yours"? Or is it the simplest of all motives, money? Publisher: "Wasn't Tolkien somebody famous on elfs and dwarfs? Write that this is just like Tolkien!"

What ever the reason, they seem to do it constantly, and if somebody has the explanation, I would be eager to hear it. And if somebody knows of a foreword more false than that of Ms. Tarr's I would be even more eager to read it.

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