Lois McMaster Bujold – The Sharing Knife: Beguilement
Length: 355 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Started: 05 September 2010
Finished: 07 September 2010
Where did it come from? Bought at Bookcloseouts.
Why do I have it? I’d read and loved her Chalion books, and it was on super-sale for $1.99. I am not made of stone.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 15 April 2009.
with a knife that binds up more
than it cuts apart.
Summary: Fawn Bluefield grew up hearing tales of the Lakewalkers: They can do magic. They have no homes but forever roam the countryside. They are dangerous for farmers to be near. But as she is fleeing her tiny village – where she is unappreciated, unwanted, and now saddled with an unintended pregnancy – to find work in the big city, she chances to spy on a group of Lakewalkers that don’t seem quite as bad as she’s always been told. Shortly thereafter, Fawn is kidnapped from the road by bandits, and is rescued a one-handed Lakewalker, but not before they are inextricably linked by a chance accident. As Fawn learns from Dag, the Lakewalkers are not evil, but have dedicated their lives – and deaths – to fighting evil soulless creatures known as malices, thus keeping the land safe for ordinary, if unappreciative, farmer folk. They do have some abilities that many people would call magic, but their most potent power is their least understood: the sharing knifes that they all carry, knifes made of human bone and enchanted by a human death — and it is with one of these knifes that Fawn and Dag’s fates are now permanently bound.
Review: Lois McMaster Bujold can do no wrong, it seems. I started out reading her Chalion books, which are high fantasy, and then took a detour into her Vorkosigan Saga, which are space opera, and now thought I’d come back around to her fantasy novels. But I was less than halfway through this one before I realized that it’s not exactly fantasy so much as romance, just dressed up in the trappings of light fantasy. It’s a lot more light-hearted than anything else I’ve read by Bujold, for sure, although that’s not to say that it doesn’t have some very dark elements in places. What’s more, it’s a startlingly good romance: Fawn and Dag are both so likable and well-drawn, and their interactions so endearing, that I barely minded that the fantasy elements of the plot are on the back-burner for most of the novel.
(I may have minded more if I didn’t have the other three novels in the series close to hand. There are a LOT of plot threads that are left loose at the end of this book, which is fine when I know they’ll be picked back up in the next one, but would have annoyed the holy hell out of me if I’d have had to wait for the sequels to be published.)
The fantasy elements of the book are intriguing, and – true to form for Bujold – impressively original. Well, okay, the concept of the sharing knife, and the other mechanics of the worldbuilding are unique and fascinating; Dag himself is basically a one-armed clone of Aragorn. (Older than he looks, travels a lot, excellent fighter/woodsman, one of a dwindling race that was around before the common man, unappreciated guardian against the evils of the world, nobly flings himself into danger, carrying a number of scars both physical and mental, etc.) But the fact that neither Dag nor Fawn strays particularly far from their archetype never bothered me. They’re both written with such vivacity and wit and spark that I enjoyed spending time in their story and in their world, and will certainly be diving into the sequels… not least because I’m dying to know what’s going on with that knife! 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: I thought it was great, and I think it’s worth a try for anyone who is looking for a light read with a solid love story, and doesn’t mind the fantasy trappings (or, alternately, anyone who’s looking for an interesting fantasy world and doesn’t mind a serious dose of romance).
First Line: Fawn came to the well-house a little before noon.
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