Review of THE SHARING KNIFE: HORIZON by Lois McMaster Bujold (see her website)
Eos, January 2009
Ex-patroller Dag Bluefield knows he needs help, but his own people, the Lakewalkers, have rejected him now that he's married a farmer, Fawn Bluefield. When Fawn tracks down a healer and persuades Dag to take training, she doesn't know that it will take years to complete his work, or that she'd be expected to wait, doing nothing, that entire time. But when a farmer child falls sick, Dag decides he'll break the rules, cure the child no matter what the cost. And so he, Fawn, and a small party, are thrown out of the Lakewalker settlement and follow the Trace to the north, toward Fawn's original home...and Dag's.
THE SHARING KNIFE: HORIZON is an interesting book. The first half the book is largely internal. Fawn and Dag deal with their differences, with the forbidden affection between them, and with the rules put in place by centuries of mistrust between the psychic Lakewalkers and the farmers they begrudgingly protect. In the second half, as they reach the north, Dag and Fawn must face the most terrible enemy their world knows...a malice. Malices are near-divine magical beings who take their shape and intelligence from everything they devour, who can create new life out of their victims, and who can psychically seize control over those without the strong psychic barriers the Lakewalkers maintain but the the farmers simply do not have.
Lois McMaster Bujold (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Bujold) writes a human and intriguing story. Although Fawn initially comes across as weak and uninteresting, she grows through the story, becoming a worthy protagonist and hero. Dag, the tired ex-tracker, pursues his goal of becoming a healer to the farmers, whatever the cost to himself, and manages to change the entire world while he's doing it.
I thought THE SHARING KNIFE: HORIZON went too slowly and wanted more to be going on, yet Bujold's writing kept me hooked and reading despite myself. Because HORIZON is the fourth book in this series (I haven't read any of the others), it's certainly possible I would have different feelings if I'd read them continuously. As it was, HORIZON can stand alone, and delivers a satisfying conclusion to the story.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to email@example.com. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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