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Oath of Fealty

Oath of Fealty - Elizabeth Moon 12/29/13 ** Had to go back to re-read Oath of Gold, the last in the actual Paksenarian series before reading this again. I'm reading this now to ramp up for the fourth in the series, Limits of Power which came out in summer 2013 and I missed it at the time. The fifth (and last?) of the series comes out in summer 2014. Can't wait.

9/2012 ** Re-read when wanting comfort food. Not as good as the next two in this set.

4/9/11 ** Oath of Fealty is a compelling addition to Paks' world. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and found myself reading for pleasure far more than I really had time for this week.
This book is truly one with an ensemble cast; different chapters are written from different perspectives. Occasionally, this makes the story more difficult to follow - I found myself stopping to reread the first few lines at the beginnings of new chapters to figure out which country I was in and whose perspective I was back to. If you're trying to write a story with multiple perspectives, though, this would be a benchmark or mentor text.
Though Moon's forward indicates that she believes this trilogy can stand alone, not requiring the reader to have experienced the first Paks trilogy, I'm not sure I agree. It seems that one would miss the details of that series. Also, there are so many characters that the cursory familiarity I gained by reading the previous series was useful.
On a related writing note, I'm fascinated at how Moon has evolved in her world-building skills. For example, I believe (though didn't go back to check) that the previous books use typical English terms for distance, time, and direction. However, in this series, she uses winterward for north, a hand to indicate a chunk of time (a week), etc. This technique seems to make the world more distinct from ours.
While I did enjoy this fantasy novel at a level of pure enjoyment, I didn't feel that it moved to the level of 5 stars because I didn't really find an deep social themes.

4/7/11 ** Used a line from this book in a reading strategy mini-lesson today. Captain Arcolin told the sergeant, "Leave a hand with me and start the rest of the company marching." After I re-read this sentence several times, I realized that Moon meant 'a hand of soldiers' or five of them. She uses 'hand' consistently in the narration to refer to any group of five, but it threw me in this particular sentence.