In Divided Allegiance (part of the Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy), Paks and Macenion encounter a snowcat. It clearly intends to eat them, and they manage to kill it with the help of Paks' magic ring holding it still. After it's dead, Paks feels:
I was wrong to hold it that way, and that's the worst thing I've done.
Later in the book, Master Oakhallow also agrees that it was an evil act: "I should hope you knew it was wrong. Wrong, yes: bitterly wrong."
To me it seems like killing it was necessary self-defence, and holding it still was necessary to achieve that. Why do the above characters not share that view?
Paks and Macenion's options seem to have been:
- Allow it to devour their souls.
- Attempt to fight it off without magic.
- Use the magic ring to send it away.
- Kill it using the magic ring's assistance.
Suffering a fate worse than death is not a reasonable thing to ask of anyone, which rules out option 1.
Option 2 seems to amount to the same thing, as Macenion explains earlier:
No. It is truly magical, Paksenarrion. It can spell your soul out of you before you could strike a blow.
Option 3 would have worked temporarily, but the ring's magic is only active when Paks concentrates on it. She wouldn't have been able to maintain concentration indefinitely, and undoubtedly it would have returned to a high-value source of prey once it was free of the magic. Though Macenion does state:
you could have laid a compulsion on it to avoid us.
... that seems to contradict everything else we know about the ring's powers. We see several scenes where Paks momentarily loses concentration and the magic deactivates for that moment.
So through elimiation, I'm left with option 4 as the only reasonable course of action. Regrettable that it was necessary, but not evil.
Killing of animals doesn't seem to be viewed significantly differently in Paks' world than in ours. Farmers exist, and Paks is the daughter of one. She herself compares the snowcat's killing to that of a farm animal, but doesn't elaborate on the moral difference:
It might as well have been a sheep trussed up, for all the courage and skill it took
If, on the other hand, the snowcat is considered to be more sentient than an animal, it would be considered evil, for attacking people without provocation and eating their bodies and souls. Killing evil beings (to prevent them dealing any further harm) is generally established as a good act in Paks' world.