Beguilement (Sharing Knife Series #1)

Beguilement (Sharing Knife Series #1)

by Lois McMaster Bujold

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061139079
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/27/2011
Series: Sharing Knife Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 268,483
Product dimensions: 4.24(w) x 6.76(h) x 1.06(d)

About the Author

One of the most respected writers in the field of speculative fiction, Lois McMaster Bujold burst onto the scene in 1986 with Shards of Honor, the first of her tremendously popular Vorkosigan Saga novels. She has received numerous accolades and prizes, including two Nebula Awards for best novel (Falling Free and Paladin of Souls), four Hugo Awards for Best Novel (Paladin of Souls, The Vor Game, Barrayar, and Mirror Dance), as well as the Hugo and Nebula Awards for her novella The Mountains of Mourning. Her work has been translated into twenty-one languages. The mother of two, Bujold lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Read an Excerpt

The Sharing Knife Volume One

Beguilement
By Lois Bujold

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Lois Bujold
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0061137588

Chapter One

Fawn came to the well-house a little before noon. More than a farmstead, less than an inn, it sat close to the straight road she'd been trudging down for two days. The farmyard lay open to travelers, bounded by a semicircle of old log outbuildings, with the promised covered well in the middle. To resolve all doubt, somebody had nailed a sign picturing the well itself to one of the support posts, and below the painting a long list of goods the farm might sell, with the prices. Each painstakingly printed line had a little picture below it, and colored circles of coins lined up in rows beyond, for those who could not read the words and numbers themselves. Fawn could, and keep accounts as well, skills her mother had taught her along with a hundred other household tasks. She frowned at the unbidden thought: So if I'm so clever, what am I doing in this fix?

She set her teeth and felt in her skirt pocket for her coin purse. It was not heavy, but she might certainly buy some bread. Bread would be bland. The dried mutton from her pack that she'd tried to eat this morning had made her sick, again, but she needed something to fight the horrible fatigue that slowed her steps to a plod, or she'd never make it toGlassforge. She glanced around the unpeopled yard and at the iron bell hung from the post with a pull cord dangling invitingly, then lifted her eyes to the rolling fields beyond the buildings. On a distant sunlit slope, a dozen or so people were haying. Uncertainly, she went around to the farmhouse's kitchen door and knocked.

A striped cat perching on the step eyed her without getting up. The cat's plump calm reassured Fawn, together with the good repair of the house's faded shingles and fieldstone foundation, so that when a comfortably middle-aged farmwife opened the door, Fawn's heart was hardly pounding at all.

"Yes, child?" said the woman.

I'm not a child, I'm just short, Fawn bit back; given the crinkles at the corners of the woman's friendly eyes, maybe Fawn's basket of years would still seem scant to her. "You sell bread?"

The farmwife's glance around took in her aloneness. "Aye; step in."

A broad hearth at one end of the room heated it beyond summer, and was crowded with pots hanging from iron hooks. Delectable smells of ham and beans, corn and bread and cooking fruit mingled in the moist air, noon meal in the making for the gang of hay cutters. The farmwife folded back a cloth from a lumpy row on a side table, fresh loaves from a workday that had doubtless started before dawn. Despite her nausea Fawn's mouth watered, and she picked out a loaf that the woman told her was rolled inside with crystal honey and hickory nuts. Fawn fished out a coin, wrapped the loaf in her kerchief, and took it back outside. The woman walked along with her.

"The water's clean and free, but you have to draw it yourself," the woman told her, as Fawn tore off a corner of the loaf and nibbled. "Ladle's on the hook. Which way were you heading, child?"

"To Glassforge."

"By yourself?" The woman frowned. "Do you have people there?"

"Yes," Fawn lied.

"Shame on them, then. Word is there's a pack of robbers on the road near Glassforge. They shouldn't have sent you out by yourself."

"South or north of town?" asked Fawn in worry.

"A ways south, I heard, but there's no saying they'll stay put."

"I'm only going as far south as Glassforge." Fawn set the bread on the bench beside her pack, freed the latch for the crank, and let the bucket fall till a splash echoed back up the well's cool stone sides, then began turning.

Robbers did not sound good. Still, they were a frank hazard. Any fool would know enough not to go near them. When Fawn had started on this miserable journey six days ago, she had cadged rides from wagons at every chance as soon as she'd walked far enough from home not to risk encountering someone who knew her. Which had been fine until that one fellow who'd said stupid things that made her very uncomfortable and followed up with a grab and a grope. Fawn had managed to break away, and the man had not been willing to abandon his rig and restive team to chase her down, but she might have been less lucky. After that, she'd hidden discreetly in the verge from the occasional passing carts until she was sure there was a woman or a family aboard.

The few bites of bread were helping settle her stomach already. She hoisted the bucket onto the bench and took the wooden dipper the woman handed down to her. The water tasted of iron and old eggs, but was clear and cold. Better. She would rest a while on this bench in the shade, and perhaps this afternoon she would make better time.

From the road to the north, hoofbeats and a jingle of harness sounded. No creak or rattle of wheels, but quite a lot of hooves. The farmwife glanced up, her eyes narrowing, and her hand rose to the cord on the bell clapper.

"Child," she said, "see those old apple trees at the side of the yard? Why don't you just go skin up one and stay quiet till we see what this is, eh?"

Fawn thought of several responses, but settled on, "Yes'm." She started across the yard, turned back and grabbed her loaf, then trotted to the small grove. The closest tree had a set of boards nailed to the side like a ladder, and she scrambled up quickly through branches thick with leaves and hard little green apples. Her dress was dyed dull blue, her jacket brown; she would blend with the shadows here as . . .

Continues...


Excerpted from The Sharing Knife Volume One by Lois Bujold Copyright © 2006 by Lois Bujold. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

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Beguilement (Sharing Knife Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 72 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely my favorite sieries of the many good books by Lois McMaster Bujold.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All Bujold's books are masterfully constructed, and she is the best at developing and revealing character in the business. That is why I am not quite willing to brush off my residual feelings of dissatisfaction with this book, and, indeed, the entire series, minor as that dissatisfaction may be; because I know she is fully capable of selling me fully on Fawn as a character, and she doesn't do that here. Really, I think it's a caseof a writer falling too much in love with her own character. Once that happens, the reader has a natural tendency to reject this bludgeoning with the character's so strenuously touted virtues. I certainly do. In the end, I didn't love Fawn, didn't buy that she was wrongfully treated by her family, and quickly stopped respecting Dag, due to his continual irresponsible choices (which they were, despite Bujold's efforts to convince us otherwise.) He is old enough to know better, even if Fawn is not. None of this would matter, if it weren't so plain that Fawn and Dag are meant to be very paragons of humanity. They do not work for me in this role. Nonetheless, the book is well worth reading for the quality of the prose alone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting and well-written. Loved it.
redwing57 More than 1 year ago
The book is definitely the beginning of a series, and it lays the groundwork for future adventures. The focus of this first book is character and world development, and it is rich on both counts. It is also a love story, and it ties the main characters together and gives them a strong, but complex, relationship. I bought the next two books and will be reading on to see where this leads.
NancySBrandt More than 1 year ago
I got this book out of the library after hearing Ms. Bujold speak at a science fiction/fantasy con. She was on a Hard Fantasy panel, and as I am a fantasy author, I was very interested. I had heard of her before but had never read anything she'd written. I got the impression from the con that she tends to write science fiction and I don't read that. However, I wanted to read some of her fantasies to see what her writing is like. One disclaimer about this review - I read like a writer and I tend to analyze technique and what I say may or may not make sense to you but here are my thoughts. First, let me say I was pleasantly surprised to discover this is, at the heart of it, a romance. I come from a romance background and I loved that about this. The world building is fabulous. I felt as though I could clearly picture Fawn's family and their farm. I love Dag's interest in the differing customs between Lakewalkers and Farmers. It was a good way to show us that the author has thought through all this. There's a whole world, possibly a whole "universe" behind these two characters and that makes the book feel as though it could really happen. Fawn's family is well developed. In a story like this, it's easy to create a family and give the main character several siblings, then let those siblings stand as cardboard cut outs, placeholders. Fawn's brothers are not that. They each have their own personalities and you can tell them apart. Her parents are well-developed, as well. Dag's "family," while not exactly similar, is also a unique and fascinated culture. As you read, you feel as though you know these people and can feel the history Dag shares with them. All in all, I can see now why Bujold has so many fans and I definitely will want to read more of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I came to Lois McMaster Bujold much later than I should have--years after friends had told me to read her books--but I'm grateful because it meant I didn't have to wait for all four of the books in this series to come out. I read them one after the other as fast as I could get my hands on them. Bujold's prose style in both this series and her other fantasy novels (the best of which are Curse of Chalion and The Paladin of Souls) is beautiful. The characters are compelling and complex. The plot is secondary in this series: there's just enough depth and purpose in the plot to give the books a narrative drive to keep everything moving, but I was so much more interested in who the characters were and how they'd deal with each other than in the action sequences. (The plots in Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, on the other hand, are much more action driven if that's what you're looking for.) Be sure to get the other books in the series as well--they're all interesting, if in slightly different ways.
mjfoxfl More than 1 year ago
This book and its sequals are to be found in the Science Fiction shelves of the store. However, if someone slipped up and put them in the Romance shelves they would not miss a beat. The characters are solid and individually interest- ing. Combined they make for a good solid Sci-Fi read with a romance element that I found compelling. And this last from a male who usually accepts only a minimum of that.
harstan More than 1 year ago
After learning she is pregnant, Fawn Bluefield runs away from home, but is noticed by the Lakewalker Dag Lakewalkers can use ground senses to manipulate energy that enables them to use ¿magic¿ to kill evil creatures known as malices with specially prepared knives. Dag rescues Fawn when two mud-men created by the malice attack her,. He goes hunting itknowing that only one malice left to grow can destroy the world.------------- However, the mud-men kidnap her and take her to the malice¿s lair where Dag finds her. He tosses her two knives that she uses to kill the malice. One knife becomes primed after she lost her baby in the fight with the malice. Dag takes Fawn to a hotel that welcomes Lakewalkers so that she can recuperate from her ordeal. They begin to know one another and they fall in love although Dag knows Lakewalkers only mate with their own kind.------------------ Readers get to see up close and understand the Lakewalker culture with pressure to conform to their value while also receiving an exciting romantic fantasy adventure. The heroine is courageous as she leaves behind her family to give her baby a fresh start Dag seems wiser yet totally charmed by the outsider¿s feisty independence. Lois McMaster Bujold creates strong realistic characters while building a unique world. This tale showcases the remarkable skills of this grandmistress.-------------- Harriet Klausner
donkeytiara on LibraryThing 10 months ago
...this book had the potential to be great.....but someone threw a stick in the author's spokes when it came to the relationship thing....hello! Some of us can follow a relationship line AND a storyline at the same time!!! This is not an adventure fantasy book, which it had full potential of being in the beginning....it's just a slow forbidden love story with an age difference and a culture difference.....been there, doing that.
kayceel on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I enjoyed this very much - I'd heard it recommended as a wonderful love story, and it is that, but it's also exciting and fascinating.Fawn is a young farmer girl, striking out on her own after an unfortunate encounter with a fellow farmer. While on the road, she sees a Lakewalker patrol - mysterious supposed necromancers who use magic to hunt and kill malices, creatures who kill and enslave humans and Lakewalkers alike.When Fawn later runs afoul of bandits enslaved by a malice threatening a nearby town, one of the Lakewalkers, Dag, comes to her aid. However, it is Fawn who kills the malice, stabbing it with the Sharing Knife Dag throws to her while occupied with one of the malice's mud men.This causes a mysterious change in another of Dag's sharing knives, urging him to take Fawn with him to head homeward to consult with a maker to discover what fawn did with the knife to change it. On their journey, despite Dag's misgivings, the two fall in love and this causes a whole boatload of more problems for them...This story tells of a charming love and explores prejudice and rumor. Plus, the malices are creepy! : )Recommended.
amodini on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Call me hopeful, but I'm ideally looking for a mix of sci-fi and romance in the same novel. It's always interesting to have a major sci-fi plotline with a minor romance thread running through it. So, I thought I'd hit the jack-pot when I came across Louis McMaster Bujold's "The Sharing Knife" series". I mean Bujold ! That Hugo winner! She writing a sci-fi novel which features romance - what could be better than that ? Many things, it now appears.You're probably getting my drift by now, but let me inflict a philosophical euphemism on you at this point : Most things in life are not that easily gotten. Ergo : I'm disappointed in the first book - Beguilement. Yes, it had new ideas of fantasy, but it read almost like a romance novel, and not the nice kinds (read : woman has spine) either. No, really !The woman here is Dawn Blufield, all of 18 years. She's run away from home, because she's gotten pregnant by a local boy, who's refusing responsibility, and being generally mean and nasty. Also, desis hold up your heads now, because izzat and honor, and blaming the woman are apparently world-wide concepts, known also to the farmers of this novel. Thus Dawn, mortified by her parent¿s embarrassment if they found out has hit the road.The hero is 55 year old Dag, who's a Lakewalker Patroller. Lakewalkers are people who guard the common folk against malices and blight bogles, which are evil monsters that suck up your "ground" or life-force. Lakewalkers have an acute sense of others¿ "ground", i.e.; they can sense happiness, sadness and rough edges in the ebb and flow of your life-force. So, Dag can sense Dawn's "ground" , and she shines so brightly in it, that he calls her "(Little) Spark". (Oh, kill me now !)OK, so now the story : Dawn meets Dag. Dag secretly smitten. Enter Malice. Dag to the rescue. And then the event that propels the story (or at least that's what I thought) : Dawn uses the wrong Sharing Knife on the Malice, and it mistakenly gets "primed". That is a problem, because it has been "primed" with her now dead baby's ground (she aborts due to the malice's man-handling of her) and the baby hadn't even been born yet. Dag doesn't know what implications this has, because Sharing Knives are "primed" with Lakewalker "ground" and done by the LakeWalkers themselves. So, he persuades Dawn to come with them to his LakeWalker Patrol so that someone more knowledgeable about Sharing Knives, a Maker for instance, can find out.Well, I thought that the "finding out" would be done quickly and then the story would proceed in a sci-fi-ish manner. But, instead, the rest of the book is devoted to Dawn and Dag making the journey to her home, to clear up the air so to speak, and falling in love along the way.Now, I have no problem with romance (in fact quite the contrary), but let's not act like lovesick teenagers here. The book, at this point has become quite Mills-and-Boon-ish in character. Dag, is the older, wiser, and worldlier of the two, and he longs to cherish her and protect her, blah blah blah . . . And she, actually is a teenager, vastly under-esteemed by her family, and forever taunted by her various siblings. But, but, but . . . she's earnest and intelligent and kind and compassionate . . . And this really is true-blue love, where they communicate via ESP. OK, then !This isn't quite what I expected. If I did want to read a love story about a much older, more powerful man, who wanted to protect and cherish this wispy little woman with a heart of gold and a large brood of (nasty/dependent) siblings, I would go read Betty Neels instead. Granted, from what I can recall, her heroes are almost always handsome Dutch Doctors , and Dag is of unknown country, he sounds fairly Scandinavian to me - close enough, no ?The book, like the rest of us, is not all bad. The characters are well-drawn ¿ I liked Dag¿s character quite a bit; he has his head screwed on right, has no fixed notions of ¿women¿s¿ work since he actually nurses Dawn through her misca
humouress on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I picked this book up because I really like what I've read of Bujold's Vorkosigan and Chalion series, and this series comes recommended, too.The story concerns a young girl, Fawn, being abducted by an evil being, called a malice or a blight bogle, and being rescued by Dag, an older Lakewalker. Lakewalkers patrol the lands, ridding them of malices when they are found, and are looked at askance by ordinary, or farmer, folk, who think they are necromancers. Fawn and Dag kill the malice in a deadly fight using one of Dag's sharing knives (which are the only things that can kill malices), and then spend time recuperating with other patrollers. However, in the fight, something odd happened to one of Dag's other sharing knives which concerns them both, so they head for a Lakewalker camp to get advice on it. Along the way, they stop to spend time with Fawn's family.The book starts off well, with a lot of action as Dag races against time to hunt down the malice with his patrol, and continues nicely when the Lakewalkers are stationed at an inn to recuperate. I especially liked the banter between friends, which had me smiling quite often. Then the pace slows down as the two (inevitably, so no spoilers here!) fall in love, but it's quite sweet, and presumably sets things up for the rest of the series.One point, though, I didn't get; it seemed a huge issue for Fawn, but I didn't understand the reasons why she ran away from her family. A fair chunk of the story is devoted to the time the two spend with her family, and they seem concerned and loving. Of course, as the youngest child and only sister of 4 brothers, she does come in for some hard teasing, but as a reason for running away from her family, it seemed rather childish.I liked the book, though, and will look out for the next one in the library.
hjjugovic on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Bujold's Vorkosigan series is one of my all time favorites, and I was reluctant for some time to try her fantasy series. I'm glad I finally did. Her usual graceful, efficient language, rich characters,and satisfying plot is here. One thing I am typically frustrated with in fantasy is series where each book is more concerned about creating a cliffhanger than being a complete book unto itself. Bujold does not fall into that trap. She creates interest for the next book but this bbook also stands on its own. I don't think the tension in the book was as high as it could have been, but the story was thoroughly enjoyable. I think the stage has been set for the real story to begin in the following books.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Stupid me. I bought the 2nd in this series before finishing this first book.It is not science fiction. It is barely fantasy... sure, it's a fantastical world with some "magical" skills, but really... it's a romance novel. And not a very good one at that (try Shinn's works if you want a decent romantic fantasy). It's a Harlequin, just with a non-Earth setting.The PLOT:Girl (20 yr old) meets man (40ish). She's infatuated. He knows better - and is told by his frigid female mentor (aka spinster) that he should leave the girl alone - but he can't help himself so they "fall in love" and he teaches her the "ways of love". Then they meet her family. Yup, that's the story.Gag.
brinnet on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The names in the book irritated me at first, possibly because I hadn't read fantasy in a while. Otherwise, 'Dag' and 'Fawn' may not have struck me so hard. I wouldn't call this book a quality read. It lies firmly within the realm of fantasy-romance. If I wasn't so blantantly a fan of cheesy romances (a perk of also having studied lit in college), then I would be embarassed for someone else to know I've read this book.Recommend it to your best friend or for plane flight. Don't read it if you're lookign for something intellectual, or even groundbreaking. (which is a crappy pun, btw)
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Fawn Bluefield wants out of her family farm and into the outside world and Dag, a Lakewalker patroller attracts her and takes her under his wing. Lakewalkers are waging a war against "malices". Malices are immortal entities who draw life out of people and make them into warped versions of themselves.When Fawn is taken by malices Dag has to rescue her and this changes their relationship forever.Bujold is a great writer and I have never been disappointed by her, this is no exception.
reannon on LibraryThing 10 months ago
First in the Sharing Knife fantasy series. Bujold is most known for the Miles Vorkosigan science fiction series. This fantasy series is set in a world similar to a medieval Earth in which people are either farmers or Lakewalkers. Lakewalkers protect the land from malices, magical energy creatures that drain all life from the land. Lakewalkers and farmers have separate cultures and don't mingle. Fawn is a farmer girl and Dag a Lakewalker, and the two break all the rules. The world is interesting, but the story behind the ground and the sharing knives was difficult for me to understand.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I found the fantasy aspects of this fascinating, but at times I felt more as if I were reading a Harlequin romance (cliches included) than a fantasy. I think I would have enjoyed it more if there'd been more depth and time to the details of fantasy, and if the romance had taken a bit longer to develop. As is, it was an enjoyable escape once I got into it (which did take a bit), but nothing I see myself revisiting. I would recommend this to young adults who enjoy fantasy though, girls at least. A few guys I knew had started this, and not gotten through it--having read it now, I'm not surprised. It really is more romance than fantasy when you break it down.
Vilakins on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I love the Miles Vorkosigan books, and the Chalion series in a different way, but this? This is ostensibly fantasy, but the setting is just framing for a romance and a little soft porn. Fawn is a naive and chlidlike (though we keep being told how bright she is) girl of 16 or 17 who is rescued by a man in his 50s who is much more experienced in all ways. This alone I found somewhat squicky due to not just the difference in age, but that in power. If you like Mills and Boone or Harlequin (I'm not up on the romance genre), go for it. If not, avoid.I won't be reading any more in this series. What was Bujold thinking, and why wasn't she embarrassed to tell us?
JackDTeague on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I am always amazed by the efficiency with which Bujold can take you into a new world. This book is an introduction, you know there is much more story to follow at the end of this book, but it is a satisfying read as she introduces the two principle characters, their cultures, and their world via them getting to know each other.
noneofthis on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This series had been repeatedly recommended to me, starting nearly a year ago, by a friend of mine. This friend had also advised that I avoid beginning the books too close to bedtime and that I obtain, at the very least, the first two books of this quad so that I could read them back to back. I really need to start taking her word at greater weight.I waited for a long time before bothering to track down a copy of this first book this series because at the time I had only just read the appallingly bad C.L. Wilson book, Lord of the Fading Lands, and the two series have unfortunate parallels. They are both fantasy/romance books. They are both four-volume sets. They both are written from the dual main characters' points of view. They both focus on uniting two different cultures of peoples. And they both revolve around May/December romances.The thing is, in this Bujold book, all of these things are done well. The romance between the characters is important to the book, but it's the fantasy element that fuels the plot. The alternating voices of the characters are fluid and focused, and never once devolve into a he felt/she felt situation. The May/December aspect is handled deftly and in a reasonably practical manner. Fawn pretends through about two-thirds of the book to be older than she actually is, and Dag avoids announcing his precise age until directly asked it by Fawn's father. There was a part in the book where the Dag and Fawn were enjoying sex together, Fawn was ready to launch into round two, and Dag was all, Wait! I need more recovery time, which had me laughing aloud.It is through Fawn's perspective that this fantasy world is introduced to the reader, that for the most part that introduction is done very well. I hate infodumping, and that seems to be kept a minimum. I think it helps an awful lot because of how Bujold has paced her novel, and I'm really glad she's such a sure hand at this. I was particularly pleased at reading the action scene at the very beginning of the novel, which helped so much to break up the introduction of information by incorporating the realistic little wrinkles of (1) kill the monster, and (2) survive the aftermath, before (3) the background of the characters and the world in which they live is explained.I particularly enjoyed the characterizations here. Even secondary characters feel very organic to the plot. Character descriptions are fleshed out; everyone has grown up from some reasonable place in the story; conflicts between characters are written as resulting very naturally from personality and opinion clashes. I was also left wanting to know an awful lot more about the secondary characters, and I really hope the main characters run into them again in a later book.There were a lot of unanswered questions left dangling at the end of this novel, but then this is the first in a four-volume set. I'm content have some of the more basic whats of this world described here as long of as more detailed whys are explained later.Oh, yeah, the later books. Not only had I ignored my friend the first time she recommended this series, I ignored her advice too. Now I'm left cranky and scant on sleep following a late-night reading session, and it'll be at least five days before I can get my hands on book two. Grrr.
PallanDavid on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Set in a rennaisance-oid fantasy land, this is the "love" story between a 'farmer' (normal human) and a 'lakewalker' (mystical people with very long life spans). The story line is very routine: young attractive female gets into trouble with an evil magical being, she is rescued by a a handsome male who can combat the evil magic. The female and male fall in love and get married (or did the marriage happen in book 2?)... Part of the lakewalker magic is giving the woman intense pleasure... verging on soft porn in description and inference. The idea of a 17 year old girl and a 40-something man in this type of relationship kind of creeped me out, too. I found the writing over-wordy and repetitious. This would have been a good short story.
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
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).
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good. It is very obviously only half a book, but it does have a fairly satisfying interim resolution.
clong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully told, character-driven fantasy. Bujold gets the heavy action out of the way early, and then gives us a leisurely opportunity to get to know our two protagonists and their world better. In many ways TSK:B is a departure from previous Bujold. There is little or no political maneuvering, for a start. And there is no villain to be unmasked and defeated. The humor is definitely subtler and perhaps less pervasive. Some readers have complained that the book isn't what they expected--that this is a romance being deceptively marketed as a fantasy. I had a good idea what the story would be like and the author pretty much delivered exactly what I was looking for. The characters are original and well drawn, sympathetic despite the unlikely aspects of their romance. The sex is surprisingly direct, more so than in other books I have read from this source, but tastefully done. Those who are looking for action driven fantasy may be disappointed, although I suspect that there will be plenty of action in the second book. Reading TSK:B is a bit like going to a concert hall and listening to an orchestra play the first two movements of a symphony (an opening allegro, and then an extended slow second movement), and then everyone being told to come back in nine months for the second half of the concert. The only real complaint I can come up with about this book is that it's really only half a book. Despite the perils faces by our protagonists early in the story, one has a sense that the worst is yet to come--that before long there will be very difficult choices to be made and inevitably a call for personal sacrifice.