Title: The Sharing Knife
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Scrinnameless, who I call “Scrin” for short, is a 22 year-old geology student who is curious about romance, and at my suggestion has taken to reading Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Sharing Knife: Beguilement. Here we have Chapters 4-10:
In which we find out about malices. And more about Dag.
It’s a nice bit of monster-building, the malice. I could go on, but let’s say they’re thieves of life who start out small, learn as they grow, and can get nasty. Inherently evil, one might say.
Found out where the title comes from. Apparently, sharing knives are the weapons used to kill malices.
And, to my glee, the bit where he throws her his pair of sharing knives to kill the malice just goes and proves that Dag says what’s going through his head at the moment. There’s two knives in two sheaths bound together, right? She asks him which. He just says, “Sharp end first! Anywhere!
So she uses the wrong knife at first.
Anyway, something in this chapter happens that I really wasn’t expecting. I’ll say this: Forget evil. Malices are unholy.
Okay, you know what? After 61 pages, I care about the characters. For a start, I can identify with Dag’s erratic thought processes quite a bit. I’m ADHD; God knows my brain jitters around from thought to thought and moment to moment, too. (He’s also been nothing but a decent guy so far. Furthermore, he’s a decent guy with colorful dialogue.)
Fawn’s not bad, either. She’s pretty serious, it seems, and she learns from her mistakes. I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m rooting for them.
Anyway, the sharing knives are explained here. Pretty cool concept, though I don’t need to geek out about it in detail. It makes sense, and it’s got a certain logic to it.
Well, okay. Now comes the awkward part for me as a reader. They’re both dancing around each other. She admires and respects and is totally comfortable with him. He’s all too aware of what she’s feeling—life-sense, remember—and is trying to keep a certain detachment towards her. It’s not easy for him.
And she mistakes his resolute silence—which he’s doing to keep from saying something he shouldn’t—for just tiredness. Despite getting pregnant, this woman’s still got some naivity to wear off.
Just some plot development, and some revelations on Dag’s past. Nothing too earthshaking as yet. By now I’m reading to finish the story. I did kind of expectthe Lakewalkers wouldn’t all be stand-up people, though.
Well, I’m revising a mental conception about the Lakewalkers. The more I read, the more I find out they’re organized along military lines.
More importantly, this is where Dag’s having his crisis about what to do about Fawn. Some of his silent self-criticisms seem like he wonders why people place so much trust in him.
Which is relevant. See, in the past, Dag had a bad day that cost him everything he valued—including relatively unimportant things (in his view), like his left hand. The point is the disaster maimed Dag, emotionally as well as physically. He still regrets it, but he’s long since gotten to the point where he can deal with it—except he hadn’t ever expected to feel certain things again.
(It just occurred to me that his physical maiming matches his emotional one, given that the heart’s on the left side. That’s a very neat parallel, but I could be just imagining the symbolism.)
Now those thought-dead emotions are being resurrected, and he’s having a hell of a time coping with them—when he’s in his forties.
Granted, the read-a-log’s are heavy on the plot summary, but I so enjoy reading a person’s reaction to that plot, and how they recognize some of the romance constructs of the book. Thanks, Scrin!