A very compelling read. The story of Paksenarrion is long and involved, but ultimately quite compelling. The promise at the start of the book is never really fulfilled, but that's probably why this is "book 1". I'm sure the following books eventually bring the story of Paks to a close.
What I liked: a strong female central character, and compelling relationships with other warriors. I also like the slow learning of the world's mysticism --- that really did seem like how someone from a backwater village would learn about "greater mysteries".
What wasn't so great: The last half of the book was primarily about one military campaign, and I got lost amidst all the allied groups, both friend and foe. Moon was trying to describe something grand, but the (probably authentic) chaos in such a situation wound up in the writing as well.
Overall: well worth reading, especially if era-of-swords military adventure is your thing.
Moon writes a sword and sorcery story with the best of them. In this book, Paks and her cohorts are interesting characters, caught up in both the boredom and the terror of an army's life on the march.
The details of geography, tactics, and strategy are sometimes a bit overwhelming, and a map would have been most useful, but overall a good book.
The storyline is consistent and the characters believable. The first 100 pages hooked me right in and I was engrossed. My only problem is that the book is quite repetitive with the main character going from seige to seige and battle to battle. The book probably could have shaved about 100 pages without losing much real content. Still, the writing is quite good and I enjoyed the story.
The details alone make it worth reading, June 2, 2004
Reviewer: Ashley M. Sheridan "amazonfox" (Vernon, CT United States)
This is a great series! Follows Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter, a young provincial woman who joins a mercenary company at 18 and goes on to become a famous knight. Book One is about her days as a mercenary soldier. I was amazed at how detailed Moon's accounts of military life are. In some ways, this book is a little like "By the Sword" by Mercedes Lackey, but I would rate this by far as the better of the two. Paks is good, but not cocky, like Lackey's Kerowyn tends to be. She enjoys just being a common soldier, although her superiors notice something special about her from the first. Eventually, Paks becomes a key player in the main battle of the story, as several mercenary armies ally together to bring down Count Siniava, the bad guy.
At times, "rich in detail" can become just "confusing", especially since (at least in the version I own) Moon spends a great deal of time on the importance of geography, but doesn't include a map. But if you enjoy more sword than sorcery, with likable (and perhaps even more important, believable!) characters, this is a great book.