Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oath of Fealty by Elizabeth Moon

I want to state right up front that I'm an Elizabeth Moon fangrrl (is that how they spell it? Trying to be cool here.)

She is not a Romance writer. She writes straight up SF and pure Fantasy, some with romantic elements, some without. And writes it rather well, I might add.

Twenty years ago - twenty years! - she wrote a trilogy that was incorporated into the book The Deed of Paksenarrion, a fantasy which she admits was based on a Dungeon and Dragon type game she had observed. She felt the characterizations were wrong and so she set out to do it right. We have elves and dwarves and gnomes and high magic; Paladins and gods who interact with humanity. And always, the battle between Good and Evil.

The last book in that trilogy ended with Paksenarrion finding the true king of Lyonya. Twenty years later in my time, he's about to ascend his throne in Oath of Fealty.

Evil stirs again. Actually, it never stopped.

The events in this book are all linked to the happenings in the previous books, but this book can stand alone. My one gripe with it, is that Ms Moon made sure any new reader would know what had happened in the past. And just in case you didn't catch it the first time, another character repeats it.

I admit I was getting outdone with her, but about 1/3 of the way into the book, everything kicked in and off we went on a wild ride of magic and battles and skull duggery and over and above all, likable people you root hard for, who have the courage of their convictions and the moral strength to resist the temptations thrown against them.

There are four storylines, bound together by Paksenarrion. She is not a major character in this book, but through her the protagonists' lives have changed.

There is the new king of Lyonya as he takes control of his kingdom and prepares for the attack he knows will come on his country.

There are two of his former Captains: Dorrin Verrakai who must reveal her magery to contain and destroy the evil her family has done; and Jandelir Arcolin, into whose hand the king's old cohorts have been given and who worries he is a poor substitute as he leads them South to war.

And finally there is Mikeli, a young prince in Deeds, who becomes king of his own land, with the evil opposition trying to assassinate him in Evil's name.

Moon served in the Marines and her books are known for their realistic military action and tactics, and how a common soldier or an officer thinks. Her sword play is exemplary.

I think what captured me and held me for lo, these many years, are her characters. They have faults, they have fears, they have regrets. They strive and sometimes they fail. But they always keep their integrity.

Some might think the contrast between good and evil is too overt in these books and they'd be right as far as the broad action is concerned. The priests of Liart are cruel and just plain nasty, and don't pretend to be anything else. You meet a priest of Liart and you know you're gonna get hurt. Badly.

But the main characters and the secondary characters have different depths to them, some subtle, some not so subtle.

For a great action packed story and the chance to cheer the good guys on, you can't beat Elizabeth Moon. Oath of Fealty is a worthy addition to her impressive list.


  1. I am also a huge follower of Fantasy but I have never read Elizabeth Moon. She sounds AWESOME. I already went to Amazon and looked up her books for me to buy (although I might check Half-Priced Books first). But she sounds right up my ally, and with heroines who don't fit that typical urban fantasy formula that annoys me (you know the one: She's Super Tough and Immensely Powerful, but in the arms of the man she lusts for, she melts and is powerless to his appeal). It gives those girls a bad name. So I am excited about Ms. Moon's books. Thanks!

  2. You're welcome. :-)

    You might like her SF too. Some of it is very techy and therefore believable, but once again, it's character driven and sometimes just plain fun. I mean, who else would combine fox hunting and space ships? LOL.

    The first one I read was Hunting Party, the first book in the Heris Serrano series. It appears I like it more than most reviewers at Amazon, but then I'm funny that way. I love to see characters grow and change.