This is a book by Elizabeth Moon published for the first time in 1988. So yes, this book is old.
I stumbled onto this book quite by accident and really enjoyed it.
This tale is set in a D&D inspired high fantasy world and follows the story of Paksenarrion. A sheep farmers daughter who runs away from home to join a mercenary company. If you enjoy military fantasy stories, this is the book for you.
The day to day life, training and deployment of a mercenary company is depicted in this book in a very realistic manner. It’s not as gritty as the Black Company books, but it does manage to show us just how dirty and bloody medieval warfare was, as well as the mindset of soldiers in active service. Also for the soldiers in this book victory in battle depends on discipline and training, and the concentrated effort made by the entire army. No last minute interventions or magic swords involved. Just good old fashioned fighting. The main character isn’t a lone hero (Though she might grow into one later) but just another line trooper. She doesn’t save the day on her lonesome, she does it with her company.
The background and some of the story seems to be inspired by the Italian city states of our own world and their own history with mercenary soldiers.
This book is also rather short for a fantasy story. Especially when compared to the thousand word fantasy books of today. Maybe because it was written decades ago?
There are hints of divine intervention and D&D style alignment issues, a paladin or two makes an appearance, but they play only a minor role in this book. The focus of the book is on the good old fashionedfoot soldiers.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a good military fantasy book,or a D&D inspired fantasy book.