"Paladins are for masochists," say the wise elders on pally boards and blogs. "You either spec healbot and can never farm, spec ret and can never find a group, or spec prot and spend half your time trying to convince people that prot pallies can actually tank. You're either being ordered around by your raid leader and tank or wandering in the wilderness soloing stuff."
As I was leveling my paladin, I began to feel that this statement had some truth to it. Ret had nice, big numbers, but I couldn't take on many mobs, had to heal a lot, and found myself constantly out of mana. Holy ... well, I didn't have enough talent points yet to take Holy Shock, and I didn't even want to know how tough leveling would be with a spec mostly invested in healing. Then one day, while talking to some other belfadins, I discovered the wonders of protection AOE, the most sadistic spec in paladindom.