Elizabeth Moon is quickly establishing herself as a writer of powerful female characters, regardless of the setting.
In her science fiction she writes about some truly believable female military heroes. In her fantasy she does the same thing. Paks struggles to find her place in the world as well as keep her morals and her general good nature in the face of horror and personal betrayal. She also has to battle the effects of post-traumatic stress and depression in the midst of her other trials.
What starts out looking like a standard fantasy – elves, dwarves, gnomes, quests, enchanted rings, etc. – turns into a beautiful study of how people deal with the stress of combat and captivity.
Beautifully told, powerfully written.