Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Book Review: Horizon by Lois McMaster Bujold

Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Series: The Sharing Knife (Book 4)
Publication: Harper Voyager; 1 edition (January 27, 2009)

Description: In a world where malices—remnants of ancient magic—can erupt with life-destroying power, only soldier-sorcerer Lakewalkers have mastered the ability to kill them. But Lakewalkers keep their uncanny secrets—and themselves—from the farmers they protect, so when patroller Dag Redwing Hickory rescued farmer girl Fawn Bluefield, neither expected to fall in love, join their lives in marriage, or defy both their kin to seek new solutions to the perilous split between their peoples.

As Dag's maker abilities have grown, so has his concern about who—or what—he is becoming. At the end of a great river journey, Dag is offered an apprenticeship to a master groundsetter in a southern Lakewalker camp. But as his understanding of his powers deepens, so does his frustration with the camp's rigid mores with respect to farmers. At last, he and Fawn decide to travel a very different road—and find that along it, their disparate but hopeful company increases.

Fawn and Dag see that their world is changing, and the traditional Lakewalker practices cannot hold every malice at bay forever. Yet for all the customs that the couple has challenged thus far, they will soon be confronted by a crisis exceeding their worst imaginings, one that threatens their Lakewalker and farmer followers alike. Now the pair must answer in earnest the question they've grappled with since they killed their first malice together: When the old traditions fail disastrously, can their untried new ways stand against their world's deadliest foe?

My Thoughts: Now at the southern end of their journey, Dag has finally found a teacher who can help him learn more about his strange new powers. Arkady is a groundsetter and he recognizes that Dag, even though he is little trained, can be one too. The problem is find a place for Fawn in the Lakewalker camp where she is seen only as a farmer girl. Dag learns a lot in two months but he doesn't agree with the camp's policy of not providing healing for farmers.

When Finch, a young man Fawn has met at the camp market, comes and begs for assistance for his 5-year-old nephew who has lockjaw, Dag doesn't think twice before going to help even though it will likely cost him his place in the camp and his teacher.

When he is kicked out of the camp, he and Fawn decide to work their way north again. She's newly pregnant and would like to find a home before her baby is born. At first, they decide to join a party which includes Finch and some of his friends but the party soon grows with the addition of Arkady and Barr. Also in the party are a couple of untrained half-breeds. They also meet again with Fawn's brother Whit, his wife Berry, and Berry's uncle and younger brother.

Trailing both Dag and Arkady is a jealous young female patroller who has been trying to pry Dag loose from Fawn ever since she met him. Once she realizes that he is the hero of Wolf Ridge, she becomes even more determined to have him for her own. Dag isn't at all interested and is completely in love with and loyal to Fawn but Neeta isn't easily discouraged and reappears throughout the story trying one approach after another to separate Dag and Fawn.

The trip is hard and made even harder when the group runs into two different malices. Luckily, Dag has been working on a way to protect Fawn and has expanded the protection to Fawn's brother Whit and his wife Berry. When the party is scattered during the malice attack, it is up to those protected farmers to find a way to save the group and introduce the malice to mortality.

This was a wonderful story filled with great characters set in a well-developed world. It was about making small changes to bring about a changed future. Dag wants to change the dynamic between farmers and lakewalkers. He wants to change the world and pave the way for a future after the last malice has been destroyed.

Favorite Quote:
The boy who'd fathered her first lost child had feared only for his own threatened comfort. He'd greeted the news of its bare existence with anger, rejection, threats of unforgivable slander.

This astonishing man in bed with her wanted to remake the whole world into a safe cradle for her second. Or leastways turn his heart inside out trying.

She's a sneaking suspicion wisdom was to be found in some happy medium, but on the whole she preferred Dag's approach.
I bought this one in 2008 and am rereading it. You can buy your copy here.

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