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Lois McMaster Bujold – The Sharing Knife: Beguilement

September 22, 2010

112. Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold (2006)
The Sharing Knife, Book 1

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.

Fantasy romance
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).

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Lois McMaster Bujold’s website

Other Reviews: Dear Author, Smart Bitches Trashy Books
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Fawn came to the well-house a little before noon.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2010 10:07 am

    This sounds wonderful. You had me at “Dag himself is basically a one-armed clone of Aragorn.” (I’m easy to please.) Would you suggest this as a good place to start with Bujold, or does she have any standalone novels I could start with?

    • September 22, 2010 1:44 pm

      Omnivore – She doesn’t have any *totally* standalone books that I’m aware of, but the Chalion books come closest – they’re all set in the same universe but aren’t particularly linked by plot. (i.e. different main characters, no dangling plot threads at the end of each book, etc.) I started with The Curse of Chalion, and that obviously worked out pretty well. :) But I think anywhere you want to start, you’re in for a treat!

      • September 22, 2010 2:27 pm

        Good. I think I’ll start with that one, then, before I take the plunge into a new series. Thanks!

  2. September 22, 2010 6:35 pm

    I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this! I’ve got a copy waiting for me back home in Canada.

    • September 22, 2010 7:33 pm

      Memory – Excellent; I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! I’m not going to get the chance to read the rest of the series for at least a few weeks, but I’m really looking forward to them once I get the chance.

  3. She permalink
    September 22, 2010 7:24 pm

    Aragorn is a fantastic comparison for Dag!

    • September 22, 2010 7:34 pm

      She – The similarities didn’t really hit me until the conversations about the Lakewalkers being in the land before the Farmers… and then when Dag reveals his age, that pretty much clinched it. :)

  4. September 23, 2010 8:28 am

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    • September 23, 2010 1:06 pm

      Karen – Wow, thank you!

      • September 23, 2010 1:10 pm

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  5. September 23, 2010 11:50 am

    I like an Aragorn clone, maybe. Does he still be able to fight okay, poor thing, with only one arm?

    • September 23, 2010 1:07 pm

      Jenny – Yup! His sword arm is on the other side, and he’s got a whole series of Captain Hook-ish attachments, including one that holds a bow. :)

  6. September 24, 2010 3:40 pm

    I’ve never heard of this before but it sounds neat and I love that cover.

    • September 26, 2010 4:16 am

      Ladytink – The cover’s actually a fair representation of one of my favorite scenes… plus all of those lights are fireflies, which I love.

  7. August 21, 2011 9:59 am

    I have been making my way through the audio versions of this series, and I’m enjoying them a whole lot! Interesting thought about Aragorn – that hadn’t occurred to me, but now that you mention it – yes!


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