Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Review: Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold

Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Series: The Sharing Knife (Book 1)
Publication: Harper Voyager; First Edition edition (October 10, 2006)

Description: One of the most respected writers in the field of speculative fiction, Lois McMaster Bujold has won numerous accolades and awards, including the Nebula and Locus Awards as well as the fantasy and science fiction genre’s most prestigious honor, the Hugo Award for Best Novel, four times (most recently for Paladin of Souls.

The Sharing Knife series, Bujold creates a brand new world fraught with peril, and spins an extraordinary romance between a young farm girl and the brave sorcerer-soldier entrusted with the defense of the land against a plague of vicious malevolent beings. Meet Fawn Bluefield and Dag Redwing Hickory in Beguilement, the first book in Bujold’s unforgettable four-volume fantasy saga, and witness the birth of their dangerous romance—a love threatened by prejudice and perilous magic, and by Dag’s sworn duty as Lakewalker patroller and necromancer.

My Thoughts: This is Lois McMaster Bujold's take on epic fantasy but twisted in the Bujold way. Fawn Bluefield is a young Farmer girl who has run away from home and is taking an unplanned pregnancy with her. She's looking for a new start in a place where she is valued and isn't made to feel stupid.

Dag Redwing Hickory is a Patroller, a Lakewalker, who spends his life looking for the malices who randomly pop up and who, if left unchecked, can totally destroy the world.

Their first encounter has Fawn hiding up and tree and Dag resting beneath it. She thinks she's hidden but her spark of life makes her very visible to him. Their next encounter is when she is kidnapped on the road by a bandit and a mudman and Dag rescues her. He takes her to a nearby abandoned farmplace where she can stay until he deals with the malice. But then she is captured by mudmen sent by the malice and Dag is barely in time to rescue her.

In the course of the rescue, the malice steals the groundsense from her baby and kills it and Fawn is the one who manages to insert Dag's sharing knife into the Malice killing it. Fawn has accidentally primed Dag's second knife which is a baffling circumstance that needs Lakewalkers with more knowledge to explain.

Dealing with her miscarriage and his injuries brings them close together. In fact they fall in love which is an unlikely and unwanted thing for a number of reasons. He's much older and battered and battle scarred. She's young and naive but bright and full of life. But Lakewalkers and Farmers don't fall in love and they certainly don't marry. Farmers are generally suspicious of the mysterious Lakewalkers and Lakewalkers generally look down on the Farmers.

In this episode, Dag has to first convince his patrol of his decision to be with Fawn and he is given lots of reasons why this relationship won't work. Second, on their way to get some clarity about his newly primed knife, they need to stop at Fawn's home and convince her parents and brothers that getting married is a good idea.

This book is filled with fascinating characters and set in an intriguing world. Fawn is loved by her family but neither valued or listened to. It is surprising that she is as sane and well-grounded as she is after their loving abuse. Her relationship with the father of her child broke her tender heart. His callous cruelty could easily have destroyed a weaker girl. Dag is also a wonderful character who has magic and who has managed to survive horrible things including the loss of his wife and most of his patrol. He's been surviving and doing his duty for his people but it isn't until he meets Fawn that he really begins living again.

Luckily, this is the first of four books about Dag and Fawn. There is so much more for them to do and for them to learn about each other.

Favorite Quote:
"Walking the patterns isn't some emergency where you can drop everything, deal heroically, and then go home for good and all. It all starts again tomorrow at dawn. Ad you'll have to get up and walk your share just the same."
I bought this one back in 2006 and am rereading it. You can buy your copy here.

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