Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Sharing Knife: Passage by Lois McMaster Bujold

Back.. with a Vengeance!

Summary: I loved this book. If you enjoy fantastic romance, this is your book.

I was lucky enough to be given the ARC of the third Sharing Knife novel, and I'm happy to report that I found it every bit as engaging at the first two, and there will definitely be a fourth novel in the series. (It really would have sucked if I had hated the book, because I had to post a review of it either way) If you have been hoping for an in-depth exploration of the farmer-Lakewalker universe, I think you will find the novel every bit as satisfying as I did.

For the folks screaming "where's the epic fantasy?!" I think you should know that the first two novels are romantic fiction first, fantasy second. I've given these novels to romance readers who are overjoyed by the rich relationship between Dag and Fawn that seems to keep its romantic vigor going strong through both novels (which were originally written as a single novel I believe) and on into Passage.

To folks appalled by the age difference between the main characters: I'm sorry, Dag doesn't magically younger or vice versa, though the author notes that the age difference in remarkable in-universe, not just for the reader.

Passage departs from the first two books' focus on the families of Dag and Fawn, allowing the reader to get a better view of the wider world in which the two live. The first two books in many ways feel consciously small, mimicking the narrow fields of experience of the two main characters. Now Dag has decided to go on a new world tour, anxious and uncertain about the future, but buoyed by his wife's unceasing enthusiasm for life.

Dag has been around the known continent as a respected malice hunter, but now he is isolated, unwelcome in Lakewalker society. Fawn has hardly been anywhere, but her youthful enthusiasm and common farmer appearance make it easier for her to negotiate her new status, even though her husband is treated with suspicion and hostility. Farmer-Lakewalker relations are at the forefront of Passage, and Dag fumbles his way from relative obscurity to celebrity/pariah status. Hoping to explore his new-found abilities in a way that will benefit everyone, his best efforts end up infuriating his brethren and confounding (and bequiling) the farmers, boatmen and townspeople he and Fawn meet along their journey.

Bujold takes a lot of inspiration from early American history, which I find very appealing. Flat boats, window glass, even iron stoves pop up in the story and create a believable world that is on the brink of new technologies and the eruption of old evils, and not just malices.

I tried not to give too much away, but the book is coming out soon, so enjoy!


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