I want to slap Elizabeth Moon.

It's clear that she's capable of writing interesting stuff, but Elizabeth Moon's Oath of Gold -- and, for that matter, her entire damn Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy -- is just too lazy for words.

Consider the following passage:

The elf rummaged in the small pack he wore. He pulled out a flat packet and unwrapped it.

"It's our waybread. Try it."

Paks took a piece; it looked much like the flat hard bread the Duke's Company carried on long marches. She bit into it, expected that toughness, and her teeth clashed: this bread was crisp and light. It tasted like nothing else she had eaten, but was good. One piece filled her, and she could feel its virtue in her body.

Her elves have motherfucking lembas! She couldn't even come up with an original magically restorative food: no elvish jerky, no elfberries, no Lucky Charms with Green Elf Marshmallows. She's not even trying here. Which wouldn't bother me so much if the whole book were pure dreck, but it's not -- when Moon isn't trotting out hoary cliches, she's actually pretty interesting. I kept staying up too late to read these books, and that counts for a lot in my book.

But ultimately, the frequent lapses into unforgivable genericity doom this trilogy to the status of a guilty pleasure. I liked it, but I'd not for a moment try to defend its quality. Still and all, if you've got a high tolerance for fantasy cliches, this is a thoroughly enjoyable work.

On a slightly different note, I'm now somewhat abashed, because when I reviewed the first book in this trilogy, I promised to expound my theory on the virtues of padding in epic fantasy; alas, the trilogy didn't develop in the way I'd expected it to (having taken that regrettable turn into D&D fantasy), so my theory no longer applies here. I'm sure that I'll eventually read a series where it does apply, though, so you'll just have to wait for that.


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