Lois McMaster Bujold – The Sharing Knife: Passage
Length: 438 pages
Started: 02 December 2010
Finished: 04 December 2010
Where did it come from? Bought at Bookcloseouts.
Why do I have it? I’d bought the rest of the series (although I hadn’t read it yet, because I am a bad kid.)
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 24 March 2010.
A slow trip down the
river, stopping to perform
magic on the way.
Summary: In the world of The Sharing Knife, Farmers think Lakewalkers are necromantic sorcerers and cannibals, while the Lakewalkers – who spend most of their time hunting and killing the evil life-sucking malices – think that Farmers are little more than dumb animals. That makes the marriage of Dag, a Lakewalker patroller, and Fawn Bluefield, an inquisitive Farmer girl, very unusual indeed. After they’ve been unceremoniously turned out of Dag’s Lakewalker camp, the couple heads out on a mission of their own. Dag’s convinced that the centuries-long rift between Lakewalkers and Farmers is causing nothing but problems for both sides, so he’s determined that he and Fawn are going to be the ones to bridge the gap and start repairing the misunderstandings. They head south to the river, where they find themselves passage on a most unusual riverboat, with a decidedly motley crew. The boat is captained by a young woman named Berry, who is determined to find out what happened to her father and fiance, who disappeared on the river the year before… although whether by natural causes or something more sinister is yet to be determined…
Review: While I’ve thoroughly fallen in love with both Fawn and Dag, and don’t mind any excuse to read more about them, this book didn’t quite live up to the earlier books in the series. I think it was because it lacked a single overarching plot and was more episodic in nature – hence my somewhat disjointed attempt at a summary, above. Each episode was certainly interesting, and added to the big picture of the series as a whole, but one didn’t always flow smoothly into the next, and the lack of a single motivating story line meant that the whole book felt like “Dag and Fawn float downriver, doin’ stuff along the way.”
But, like I said, at least it was interesting stuff. There are a couple of new turns in the story, and in the character development, that I wasn’t expecting but which open up a lot of new possibilities. Bujold also spends a lot of time worldbuilding, as Dag figures out more about how Lakewalker magic really works, and y’all know how much I love a complex and internally consistent magical system. There are several new characters added to the mix in this volume, and I liked most of them almost as much as I like Fawn and Dag – Fawn’s brother Whit, in particular, grew on me, as did the young Lakewalker Remo. I also thought that the riverboating aspect of this book was a cool (and very well-detailed) addition to the mix – it’s not something you see often as a setting for fantasy novels, and it gave the book a unique flair. And, really, let’s be honest: Bujold’s got me well and hooked into these characters and this story, so I’ll happily read about them doin’ stuff for at least another book’s worth. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: This one doesn’t even come close to standing alone; all of its cool worldbuilding is building on top of what’s come before without much recapitulation. But the series as a whole should definitely be of interest to anyone who likes well-developed non-traditional fantasy worlds, and doesn’t mind a little romance (really not much at all, at least in this volume) stirred into the mix.
First Line: Dag was riding up the lane thinking only of the chances of a Bluefield farm lunch, and his likelihood of needing a nap afterward, when the arrow hissed past his face.
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