Sunday, February 8, 2009

Book Review -- Sharing knife

Here is a book review, after my foray into politics at Critical Faculty Dojo. Well more a series review really.

The Sharing Knife series, by Lois McMaster Bujold. The first book of the fantasy series is Beguilement. Followed by Legacy, Passage and Horizon to date. I am halfway through Passage right now.

The series is set in a world, now recovered from some long forgotten magical “final battle”. The legacy of that is every now and then a magical creature called a Malice, or Boogle, arises, absorbs people and animals together with something like their souls, called their “ground”, enslaves others by mind control and tries to take over the world. Only one thing can kill them. A sharing knife.

The world is populated by ordinary folk, farmers, townspeople and such. There are also the Lakewalkers, who are mostly immune to the enslavement of the Malices. A mysterious people who live in tribes a bit like native Americans. They are the only ones who can make the
mysterious sharing knives. They own little, make semi permanent camps and send out patrols to hunt for Malices.

The farmers are pretty suspicious of the Lakewalkers, the more ignorant suspecting them of evil powers and necromancy. This is fuelled by the fact that the Lakewalkers keep themselves separate, guarding their inherited abilities to manipulate magic or the “ground” of the world. The lake walkers see other people as generally ungrateful and ignorant.

The series chronicles the adventures of plucky Fawn Bluefield. She is a farmer's daughter. At home she finds herself stifled and discounted, never taken seriously by her family.

Then she falls pregnant to a successful farmer's handsome son, who, when she tells him,refuses to support her. He, or his family, have other plans for his life.

She just can't tell her family and is worried about what the community will say, this gives her the impetus to strike out on her own. She prepares herself and runs away from home with vague plans to find work in the town of Glass Forge.

On her way she stops at an inn and crosses the path of a Lakewalker Patrol. Amongst the patrol is Dag Redwing. And that's enough of that. I don't want to give anything away and spoil the story for readers. ^_^

I like this series for a number of reasons. Firstly the young heroine is a likeable character. Intelligent, perceptive, thoughtful, brave and considerate.

The other main characters are mostly well fleshed out and pretty complex characters with complex motivations also. Apart from the Malices that are almost elemental the goodies are not perfect and the baddies are not necessarily all bad, they are in fact often good people mistakenly doing bad in the belief they are doing good or protecting tradition.

The book quietly challenges fixed ideas and perceptions of what men, women, different people can do, are capable of and should be allowed to do or try. It examines peoples prejudices and motivations.

There is action, romance, adventure and thoughtful stuff also.

I think it is well written too.


CherryPie said...

It sounds an interesting series. I always love the way that fantasy books reflect the different types of people you meet in RL

Gledwood said...

I wish I had the imagination to write or read stuff like that... now it just leaves me cold... I say this knowingly and advisedly ~ I used to LOVE fantasy works when I was between the ages of 10-14...

jmb said...

Well the Old Scientist, my son and my daughter all agree with you about this author and even this particular series. He says she is a very good writer.

Well except my daughter has bought all the books and is waiting for it to completed before she reads it as she does not like to wait in between books. I do hope that nothing happens to Miss Bujold.

Dr.John said...

It sounds like a series I might like to read if I ever finish the pile of books I have here.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

CherryPie, It is and I think most any well written book likely does that.

Gledwood. I did too, along with other stuff. I still do, mind you I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up either ^_^ ^_^

JMB, Well it is great to get my pick endorsed so thoroughly and immediately. She did another really good one, "Paladin of Souls" I think.

The character Dag in the sharing knife series is a really lovely guy, don't you think?

Dr John, Maybe try the first in the series and see, or maybe one of the author's other books, I think she is good. All her characters are believable and well rounded, male and female alike. The plots entertaining.