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OF DEEDS MOST VALIANT is a book about paladins - holy knights.

In most books, paladins are part of a particular order and that order dictates how they pursue their knightly deeds. This is somewhat copied from the Catholic Church which historically has orders of priests and monks (you'll have heard, of course, of the Benedictine Order, for instance.) Fantasy books tend to be much different as many of them are in pantheistic worlds with many gods, such as T. Kingfisher's books where her paladins serve many different Gods (such as the Saint of Steel).

In my POISONED SAINTS books - the series of stand alone fantasy books I am writing (yes, it can be a series and still have stand alone books, because each story is a story unto itself, but set in the same world under the same rules) - the world is ruled by a theocracy and the large sprawling church has a lot of power -- too much power, though we don't dig into that in this particular book. I'm saving that for later. The one huge church not only governs the religious, but also installs puppet kings in the many nations it manages, sponsors wars, throttles information it doesn't like, and does a lot of things both glorious and nefarious.

It is into this wild world that our paladins emerge and because they are all of one faith, and that faith is divided into ten Aspects (like orders, but they each glorify a different aspect of their one god) the paladins are likewise divided into aspects.

Each of those aspects comes with certain blessings from their god, and certain restrictions.

Let me introduce them to you:

1) Aspect of the Rejected God

The paladins of this aspect are also known as Vagabond Paladins and they travel the world as beggars, seeking out those afflicted by demons in order to cast them out. Vagabond paladins must forswear earthly riches, but they may call upon the God and he often grants them unusual answers to their requests. They also have the ability to cast out demons, given the favor of their God.

2) Aspect of the Sorrowful God

The paladins of this aspect are also known as Poisoned Saints (yes, the series is named for them.) A Poisoned Saint may take on the pain or illness of another, and to the degree that he does, he stores up the power of that pain and may unleash it upon another. Poisoned Saints forswear physical affection.

3) Aspect of the Benevolent God

These paladins are also known as Prince Paladins. Unlike their beggar counterparts, no level of riches is denied these paladins. in fact, the God grants them miracles. They need only speak their request and make it so. But for each blessing they speak, the God takes some of their good sense, until eventually they are left mindless and dreaming. Prince paladins rarely survive past their mid-thirties.

4) Aspect of the Creator God.

Also known as Holy Engineers, these paladins are primarily concerned with the creation and use of the great devices of the God, specifically holy things of war. They are given to them the ability to create works beyond normal mortal ken, but in exchange, they must speak the truth if asked outright for it.

5) Aspect of the Sovereign God

To most, these High Saints are the most religious seeming of all, zealous in their dedication to the exact forms, prays, calendars and schedules of the church. High Saints forswear mercy, seeing their world through the stark eyes of a cold theology and it is granted to them that if they perfectly keep the outward expression of their faith, then they may ask anything from another member of the faith and be granted it. (As almost everyone in the known world confesses the faith, this is quite the carte blanche.)

6) Aspect of the All-Seeing God

These Holy Inquisitors are not quite so terrifying as their name, but rather they test the spirits and essences around them and may use their heightened discernment to warn of troubles to come or winnow out what is good from what is evil. They are frequently called to render assistance in situations where the cause of a trouble is unknown. They forswear physical strength but are given a grace and insight many would envy.

7) Aspect of the All-Knowing God

These renowned Seers are able to see into the future of themselves and others, though they forswear enjoyment of worldly things and slowly grow more blind and deaf with every vision they see. A harsh life, this aspect mostly attracts females.

8) Aspect of the Majestic God

Also known as, Majester Generals because they frequently lead armies, campaigns and coups, this aspect forswears privacy and individuality for the good of the whole and is blessed in turn with the ability to offer over a group spirit influences such as unity, courage, and power.

9) Aspect of the Holy God

Of all the aspects, Penitent Paladins tend to make the rest the most nervous. They forswear comfort, punishing the body and heart in ways that make the others squirm to see it. Their gift is an immunity to outside ills such as fire, cold, famine and other ills. Some wonder if the exchange is worth the price.

10) Aspect of the Vengeful God

This feared and hoped for paladin is also known as the Hand of Justice. An order that only accepts paladins who are later in life, this group is charged with the judgment of crime and misdeeds. They weigh each matter with care, and are judge and executioner both. It is said that the God grants them the right to judge as they see fit, but this judgment is a double-edged sword as if they judge incorrectly, they will be the recipients of his wrath. With so much power already, t hey must forswear the leading of men in any setting other than that of justice.

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