Friday, October 24, 2008
The Sharing Knife (Beguilement): Review
Book: The Sharing Knife: Beguilement
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Series: Sharing Knife, Volume One
At eighteen years old, Fawn Bulefield finds herself in a predicament that she is unable to share with her family. Determined to deal with her problem on her own, she leaves her family's farm and sets out on a journey to a new town and life. While traveling alone, Fawn is taken by a malice (creatures that are made up of other dead creatures). She tries to fight them off to no avail, and then a man shows up to help her. Fawn later finds out that the man's name is Dag and he is a Lakewalker (a race of people who kill malice's) Dag had been tracking the malice and that was how he found her.
Fawn and Dag are soon faced with another malice that proves to be more of a problem. During the fight with the second malice Fawn is able to kill the creature with Dag's sharing knife that has been blessed by death. The kill mis-enchants the knife, leaving Dag and Fawn to find out how to deal with the knife that has inadvertently intertwined their fates.
Beguilement is a Romantic Fantasy with the fantasy elements taking a backseat to the romance. By that I mean that there is no intricate world building or fantastical appearances, except for when dealing with the malice's. The overall driving force of the story is the romance. The world itself is simple enough with (at this point) two different groups of people. Farmers and Lakewalkers. The relationship between the two groups is a wary one, with both sides having preconceived notions about each other. Lakewalkers are looked at to be dangerous because they are thought to have magic and be able to beguile simple farm folk. And Lakewalkers tend to think farmers aren't too bright. This difference in background makes Dag and Fawn's burgeoning romance a hard pill to swallow on both sides of the fence.
The story flows at an intermediate pace, unfolding the world layer by layer as the characters actions deem it so, making the book character driven, rather than plot driven. Since I liked both Dag and Fawn, I didn't mind reading about them figuring each other out, finding love, and dealing with discrimination from outsiders. Though, if I hadn't liked one or both of them, then the story might not have worked for me. The plot is there, but is slow in coming. It is one of those predicaments where the "something more" can be felt looming just under the surface and you're just waiting for it to come. It doesn't in this volume.
Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the story. Ms. Bujold's writing is naturally enchanting, her discrpitive voice is subtle and lends a magical feel to the overall book. For some readers the May-December romance between Dag and Fawn may be a problem, but I had no trouble with it. I found the romance to be lovely. If I had a complaint it would be with the publisher who split volume one and two into two books. They should have been one as book two picks up directly where one leaves off. No fair! Good for me that Legacy is already out. Beguilement was my first book by Ms. Bujold, but after falling in love with her writing it won't be my last. Grade B+.