I have previously reviewed Elizabeth Moon’s entire The Deed of Paksennarion, the trilogy of which Divided Allegiance is the middle book. Brilliance Audio sent us a copy of their audio book version of the story, and I was planning on listening to the first CD or two to review the quality of the production since I have read the whole series probably ten times now. But that is not what happened. Not only did I listen to the whole book, I broke out book three and read that again as well.
I have always been pleased with the quality of Brilliance Audio’s recordings. Jennifer Van Dyck’s narration is excellent, with easy shifts of tone and accent between characters that keep the reader entranced in the story without having to struggle to figure out who is speaking. I particularly like that Brilliance Audio indexes the story about every fifty seconds, which makes finding your place very easy if you are swapping back and forth between the audio and a text. Additionally, they repeat the last track of one CD at the beginning of the next CD, so you can get back into the story easily when you switch CDs.
Not only is the production quality excellent, the story is great as well. This middle book covers the story of Paks from her leaving Duke Phelan’s company, training to become a paladin, and then being broken, mentally and emotionally, from an attack by the dark elves. The story ends with Paks in a horrible situation, and if you are like me, you will not want to wait to find out what happens next, especially since Moon has no problem killing off her characters, or having other nasty things happen to them. Even though I knew what would happen in book three, I still felt compelled to read the next book in the series, just to make sure that everything still worked out okay.
Moon has a great deal of military knowledge, but is also able to write characters that you will care deeply about, and place them in a world that feels as real as the one you live in. Divided Allegiance is highly recommended for all fans of epic high fantasy.
The Deed of Paksenarrion — (1988-2014) Author’s Description: Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter, headstrong daughter of a sheep farmer on the north edge of the kingdom, dreams of being a hero out of legend, of fame and magic swords and great deeds. When her father tells her she must marry the neighbor’s son, she runs away from home to join the mercenary company her cousin told her about. But military life and warfare aren’t anything like her daydreams… yet she holds to both her duty and her dreams. In the end, she pays the price that heroism demands and becomes the paladin who saves a kingdom… but the journey is longer and darker than she ever imagined. She has to confront and overcome her strengths as well as her weaknesses… and her triumph redeems more than herself.