I picked up "The Sheepfarmer's Daughter" because I'd heard many good things about this epic fantasy. It begins very well, establishing Paks's independence, her dedication, passion, her desire to do what is right and good.
The story then devolves into a daily account of How to Become a Soldier and, once she's received her training, Paks's story moves into scene after scene of military maneuvers sans any real political groundwork. There are pages of scenery descriptions which, while they are lovely, do nothing to move the tale along. And then there are lists. Paragraphs long!
Now and then a little magic is thrown in as if the author sometimes remembered the book was supposed to be a fantasy. Paks sees, at a distance, some dwarves and an elf, we're told about gnomes, and there are legends of orcs — but there is never any interaction with them. There is a religious medallion that may or may not be magical, and one of the brief 'magical moments' deals with another medallion and a magical sword. Luckily, there is a battle toward the end that includes some flashing lights and dark, swirling smoke…
Most of the characters, including Paks herself, are rather flat and one-dimensional. Worse, it appears as if the author had a limited list of names to choose from, for there are multiple characters with the same names, and/or characters whose names are different by one vowel or consonant. It made for some confusing, frustrating reading.
Near the end of the book, which is told from Paks's POV, there's a chapter thrown in from the viewpoint of another character — not even a character Paks has had much interaction with, but the son of a commander who's a friend of *her* commander. This chapter doesn't even have the courtesy of following the timeline, and seems to have been inserted for the sole reason of tossing in a (tastefully handled, to be sure) torture scene. In the end, the torturee doesn't even make a comment about how the captured bad guy should die, although he is included (verbally) in the scene.
The book *ends* with plenty of pointers to "something uncommon" about Paks, but she is determined to continue her Life as a Soldier in spite of the presence of the exciting (and magical, woohoo!) Marshal and/or paladin. I wonder if the second book includes as much marching and rain and latrine-digging, but I don't have any real inspiration to find out.