The Deed Reread – Umpteenth First Impression

20130725-211203.jpgI am up to Chapter Seven of my The Deed of Paksenarrion reread. I was unable to read as quickly as I hoped, mostly due to a typically busy weekend. The next few weeks should be calmer.

After reading these seven chapters, I was suffering some serious eyestrain. The omnibus edition that I had (my second, purchased and read a few years ago) squeezes every square millimeter it can out of each page, so the font is maybe 9 point. Guys, these eyes ain’t young anymore. Presbyopia is probably the worst thing about middle age. Wrinkles? Aches and pains? No problem. Old eyes that don’t focus on small fonts anymore? Suckage. When I first read this book, way back in the misty past when the omnibus first became available, I didn’t even notice the font size. Not anymore.

Therefore, I checked out Amazon to see if Deed was available for Kindle. Lots of older books aren’t. Happily, it was–the entire omnibus was 8.99. I had 22 dollars left on a gift card so it was a no-brainer.

This is my third copy of this book.

So anyway, if you’ve read the book, I have a few questions and observations.

What is your opinion of Moon’s writing strengths with this, her first novel?

I think her strength was definitely point of view. In the first pages of the first chapter, we are behind the eyes of Paks’s father, Dorthan. Then, when Paks takes up a sword to defy him, we get a glimpse of her stubborn spirit. In the next instant, she runs out the door and from that moment, we are with her. Later, when Paks first puts on her recruit tunic, she is acutely aware of her bare legs in front of the entire platoon. And even later, when she must strip in front of the entire company, you can feel her humiliation.

What about her weaknesses?

As for her weaknesses, for me, it was scene transitions. I had trouble with this throughout the series, especially when she is switching from Paks’s point of view, which does not happen very often. The beginning of Chapter 3, when Paks goes from being a top recruit to being locked up in the dungeon, is bewildering. It is probably meant to be that way, but I ended up paging back through the book to see if I missed anything. This is a pattern that kept up throughout the entire series.

What is your opinion of the secondary characters?

Secondary characters are very much in second place in this series. The book is about Paks, and even though she makes friends readily, none of them feel fully fleshed out. Vic is my favorite, the son of minstrels, yet he cannot sing. However, he is never more than a tertiary character. The true secondary characters — Stammel, Saben, Barra and later, Canna and the Duke — get more depth, but still, I wished I could have known these characters better–especially the one who later becomes a villain.

And what did you think of Paks?

To be honest, the first time I read this story, I struggled through the first book, mostly because of the sheer quantity of the battles. But it was my reader connection to Paks that kept me going. In the second book, all struggles disappeared because it then truly becomes The Adventures of Paks. Nowadays, when I reread these books, I don’t have the same trouble that I had the first time around, mostly because I know what is coming, and because it is just so fun to relive the story again.

Now hopefully there are a few of you out there who are ready to discuss this …

11 thoughts on “The Deed Reread – Umpteenth First Impression”

  1. As I was reading your comment about eye-strain my first thought was `is the book out on e-reader?’ But you anticipated me. 🙂 I know teeny print was something that really bothered me when I tried to read Lorna Doone. I haven’t started `Deeds of Paksenarrion’ and I’m not sure if I’m going to participate or not (I’ve been feeling like fluff lately, and I haven’t decided yet if I’m up for a major read) but I still wanted to at least wave across the room to show I’m here. (If that makes sense.)

    1. I’ll try not to spoil the story for you! I really don’t think it is possible, tho. Most of the story wouldn’t make much sense unless you read what comes before, anyway.

  2. Alas, I will not be able to actually participate in the discussion, as I have not read any of the books. SO many people have implored me to read this series (I am a lover of fantasy) but though I’ve tried to get into it several times, I’m afraid that thus far, it has overwhelmed me with so much *stuff* each time I tried to begin it. Some of this, I am very sure, has to do with the way my brain works (I cannot read much when I’m writing on my own books, because it causes a traffic jam in the pathways of my brain) and then often when I do take a break from writing, I usually gorge on books, reading them all in one go. The Deed is not something you can gorge on in that manner, it’s something you have to chew your way through. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it is a thing that narrows my chances of reading. I will be very keen on hearing what others have to say though!

    1. I would have to say that the first book is definitely one you have to chew your way through. For the second book, after the first chapter or so, [SMALL SPOILER] Paks is on her own, and they definitely become “gorging” books at that point. I was quite impatient for her to go solo!

  3. I’m starting this late, but I AM starting to read now. Thankfully, Mom had copies. I adopted the to read them, them mine now, since the type is several points too small for her these days, especially with a serif font. Her eyes have gotten bad enough, she does best with at least 16 point non-serif with open, easily distinguished letters. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

    1. Awesome! Fortunately, I have been reading slowly. You have inspired me to put up another post soon!
      I had to buy the Kindle version because the omnibus was so hard for me to read.

      1. Yes, I understand about small type being hard to read. Mom gave up on most mass market paperbacks years ago. This year, she went to large type. None of that 13-14 point serif that some publishers try to pass off. She likes the stuff that meets the standards for the visually impaired: sixteen point, sans-serif or semi-serif, with wide open letters and decent space between the letters. I’ve started a small collection for her, but I’m glad the public library has a large print collection that mostly qualifies. She can get some variety from them for a while. {Smile}

        Oh, and I have started: I’ve read the prologue and chapter one. That’s not enough to say much, except that I like Paks already. She seems stubborn and determined in a good way. {Smile}

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

          1. Well, I just read chapters 3-6 this afternoon, mostly while waiting for Dad to finish grocery shopping. {Smile}

            Chapter 3 is quite a shock, isn’t it? I suspect it has to be, to some extent, but I can’t help feeling there was some way to foreshadow it at least a little. A little line about “the calm before the storm” would have prepared me to have Paks’s circumstances shift without telling me how. {Smile}

            Looking at your questions in your post, I think I’m noticing the same strengths, weaknesses, and problems, but I’d word them differently. I’d say her greatest strength is character development… but only of the viewpoint character. It feels for all the world like the viewpoint character is the only one who is fully “awake” in any scene. The prologue… was unimpressive. I can’t help noticing there is no viewpoint character there. The first couple of pages, Dorthan, Paks’s father, was more eyecatching than Paks, as that part seem to be more from his viewpoint than hers. Then Paks comes awake when the viewpoint settles with her until a little into chapter three. Sergeant Stammel doesn’t come awake until a little into chapter three. Then he’s more alive thru most of the investigation and such. When the story switches back to Paks for the main trial, she comes alive again. So far, the viewpoint has stuck with her since then, so she’s most alive. Any character who isn’t the viewpoint character seems to sleepwalk thru their scenes in comparison, even if it’s Paks because someone else took that scene. {Lop-sided Smile}

            For me, the lack of character development for non-viewpoint characters is the biggest problem, but a lack of foreshadowing is a close second. I think that’s what makes some of the scene transitions awkward. I rarely know what the next scene will be. When it’s expected – like arriving at town and looking for the company – it’s not too bad. I didn’t really know when she was going to reach town or if she was going to encounter some problem on the road until she was in town, but arriving in town was a reasonable option. But then she goes from standard training to being chained in the dungeon with no more foreshadowing than we had for arriving in town. So the story feels choppy, if you know what I mean. {Smile}

            One last problem… during the investigation and trial, you never knew what anyone was likely to think until they said so, except for Sergeant Stammel, the viewpoint character. I realize we’re limited to what he knows, but I would think he’d guess what some of the others would say before they spoke a little more often than he did. {odd smile}

            Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

          2. Great post. I agree with everything you said. I hope you are enjoying the story enough to go on, because this is a book you have to put some investment into before it rewards you.

            Regarding your last point–yes, there is very little internal monologuing. This improves as the story goes on; you do get deeper and deeper in Paks’s head.

            The opening chapters reminded me very much of basic training. At first, you catch very few names, and you don’t have time to focus much on their faces. You know the sergeant, your bunkmates, those who march beside you. Then, as time goes on, they become clearer and clearer. It is kind of like starting a class as well; you only notice those round you at first, plus the teacher. Then, after a few weeks, you notice the cute guy across the classroom.

            The way Moon introduced the characters reminded me of that.

          3. Oh, I’ll continue to read it, Just don’t expect me to go quickly. I was already reading two books when I started that and another one. I’m now trying not to drop any of the four long enough to have to back up. So far I’m not quite succeeding. So I feel stretched a little thin, but I’m keeping at it. {Smile}

            Thanks for assuring me that the characters should get more detailed as I go along. That’s good to know. {Smile}

            You have a point about how this reflects how things happen when we join new groups in real life. I hadn’t fully thought that thru, but you’re right. {Smile}

            Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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