Review: Sheepfarmer’s Daughter by Elizabeth Moon

Series: Deed of Paksenarrion #1
Published by: Orbit
ISBN 13: 9781405530422
Published: 1988
Pages: 512
Format reviewed: ePub
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: Reading Challenge: Women of Speculative Fiction

This is part of my reading challenge for 2017, to expand my woeful knowledge of women in speculative fiction by reading at least 24 books by women that were and are instrumental in our genre.

This book was absolutely what I needed at the time. I’ve fallen behind in my reading challenge currently, and short stories weren’t working for me. This I couldn’t put down. We have the usual offspring doesn’t want to be a farmer so goes off to join the army trope, but in this the characters feel so utterly real you love every minute of it. The joining of the Duke’s troops is interesting in its attention to detail, and though they do a load of walking, it makes the landscape seem real, harsh, and every bit real. This book does what movies now do for us – provide us the rich landscape that words don’t often capture – this does, and doesn’t get bogged down in it.

Paks, the main character, is lucky (and possibly God blessed if we keep reading?) and through grit and determination she earns herself a good name through her training, loyalty, and what she inspires in others. This book isn’t gentle in what we see or who we lose through the pages, and though there is one triggering scene it made me see just how well a certain subject can be handled and now I’m all the more judgey of other books that don’t pull it off half as well.

At times Moon throws us into action. There’s one chapter end where the next our beloved Paks wakes in a cell worrying about what’s about to happen to her next, and you learn the previous night through back story – it makes you worry for her all the more as you piece it together, and learn with the reaction of others just how good her chances are.

The Duke in this is both remote and yet utterly human. He has his failings, and there’s many countless people separating a lowly new recruit and the Duke himself, but through damn good writing we get to know him here and there, and I look forward to seeing more of him.

Basically, I want to finish writing this review so I can go back to reading the next one.

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