Elizabeth Moon
Surrender None: The Legacy of Gird
Baen Books 1990

Gird grew up in a small village ruled by one of the Magelords. After a street fight, he is allowed to become a soldier - which means getting enough food but changing culture, and religion. When he have understood how much his world view differs from that of the new count, he have to return to his family. But times are hard, and they're getting even harder. The greed and brutality of the Magelords takes his family, one by one, and when Gird has got nothing left to loose, he finally fights back.

This book was more or less published as a background information novel to "The Deed of Paksennarion", which is set later on in the same world. But it is a novel in its own right, too, and quite a good one at that. Fantasy novels is often set among the wealthy and powerful of its society, not because the writers consciously support the almost inevitable extorsion of the poor, but because those people (and those in their immediate surrounding) live more interesting lives. That is one reason why it is interesting to read about Gird's life - not only about the rebellion against the Magelords. The book made me wonder - how can they be so cruel? How can they let all those things happen? And the reason is probably the same as for most conflicts - an unwillingness to see things from the oppresseds' perspective.

The book raises other questions, too. What is justice? What is good law? How do I avoid becoming like those I am standing up against? Important questions, in our era of civil wars and freedom struggles. One could wish that the leaders of this century's many newly independent nations had had gnomes teaching them how to rule just...

I don't know, maybe the novel sounds quite boring? Well, it isn't, not most of the time at least. But sometimes Ms. Moon becomes too involved in details. In her acknowledgements, she thanks those who taught her about dairying and scything! But what really bored me was the detailed descriptions of weapon's exercise. Teaching people how to march might be important, and ex-soldier Moon is probably an expert, but in my opinion it isn't interesting. What is interesting, is the result, and fortunately she is quite good in describing that - the war against the Magelords - too. And guerilla warfare is much more interesting than field battles. It's a good book, and if you're interested in military life you will probably enjoy it even more than I did.

Karl Henriksson

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Henriksson & Henriksson 1996.