Book Review

Scrinnameless and The Sharing Knife: Intermission and Recap

Title: The Sharing Knife
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold

Book CoverScrinnameless, 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. Bujold! (snrk) We have an intermission and recap of the book.

I’m halfway through the book, so I’m finding it appropriate that I recapitulate my views on the book so far.

World-building: Given that this is a very small part of the world, seen from the eyes of two people (usually), what I’ve seen is pretty limited. Most of it’s actually been about the Lakewalkers. Of course, this is expected. The Lakewalkers are the source of ‘magic’ here, and any fantasy writer explains the magic somewhere (if a writer doesn’t do that, I think they have to remove the stars and crescent moon from their pointy hat or something). Anyway. The normal people are shown to be normal people—provincial and superstitious.

The Lakewalkers can be pretty bad themselves; They are dedicated to fighting unholy monsters which must be stopped or else a single one could ruin the world, but some of them can be lazy and they can freeload off the normal people by going “Hey, look, I just killed an abomination, just to keep you safe. Is a free room and some food too much to ask? And how about a new saddle? And maybe some beer. Get me some aromatic oil while you’re at it.” Still, their leaders have good heads on their shoulder. That’s why they’re the leaders, I guess.

As a side-note, the Lakewalkers are much more sexually open than the normal people are. I guess all that empathy and life-reading they have has something to do with it. Their view seems to be that sex happens and they can’t pretend it doesn’t, so it’s not anything to be ashamed of.

Characters: Hoo, boy. Don’t we have some here?

Fawn: Our female lead is quite naïve, I’m afraid. But I give her a break. She’s twenty and she lives in a culture where people don’t move around much. Part of her problem is she wants to be treated like an adult; this is hard for other people to do because she’s admittedly very short and she’s very inexperienced. She doesn’t realize how bright she is because she’s been told she’s stupid all her life. Still, Fawn’s childlike in the unquestioning trust she can put in Dag. I keep imagining brown eyes opening really wide as Dag explains the what’s-what of the world. In fact, she gets a little annoying with how innocent she is.

Dag: Dag’s the man. I’ve already mentioned how I feel about his style of speech. The dude’s easy-going, and, to his credit, he doesn’t lie to people. The main characters in a fantasy story must have the truth told to them at some point, but Dag tells ordinary people what’s really happening and why. They probably won’t understand it, or believe him even if they can intellectually acknowledge the meaning of what he’s saying, but he tells them all the same. I do dislike him nicknaming Fawn ‘Spark.’ It just seems a little too…I dunno. Like something you’d nickname a kid. Even moreso that he’s 20 years older than she is.

        And for all of his impression of being an easy-going and supremely competent guy, Dag has issues that he deals with by insuring that they just don’t come up. He’s not really an emotional cripple, but he’s spent half his life assuming that he won’t ever fall in love again and trying not to think too hard about a very bad day he’d had in the past.

        It just occurred to me. While Dag has an enormous amount of detail, Fawn is a blank slate. A very big blank slate meant to have a lot of things written on it. I sense a set-up here.

The Others: Side characters are mostly Lakewalkers. They seem to view Dag as a walking legend, to one degree or another. Some of them, though, know the man behind that legend and know that he’s still a very human one.

The Writing: I’m enjoying it, although the occasional turn of phrase puzzles me. Characters have their own individual voices for dialogue, which is always, always, a good thing.

The Story: The first five chapters? I had a blast. Some good fights, some good exposition on the world and what happens in it.

  Then came the three chapters where Fawn and Dag were in proximity to each other and they built up an attraction. That was a little embarrassing to read, actually. It really showed me how naïve Fawn can be sometimes.

  Well, maybe naïve isn’t the right word. She is an innocent, pregnancy notwithstanding. In a brief period of time, Dag puts out an incredible amount of effort and concern on her behalf, with a selflessness that she’d never seen before. Poor Dag is just doing what he’d do for anyone who ran into a malice, out of his own decency and compassion (he even buries some dead dogs in a shady place because he figured the dogs would like that). She doesn’t really get all swoony over him, but she trusts and respects him so much that she’s just happy to be around him and no matter the situation, she relaxes when he’s present.

        After the enforced proximity, I got some more about Dag. This makes sense. Dag’s the one with the stories to tell. Having a vague idea of how this works, I figure the tension between Dag and Fawn is going to break soon.

        I have noticed that each chapter seems to contain a single event of some kind. The book is pretty segmented in that way. It makes it easier to restrain myself to a chapter at a time, instead of my usual maniac read-read-READ approach. I know my test grades appreciate that (two this week).

  So now I’m all primed and ready to read.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    aninsomniac says:

    I just finished reading the fourth book and I have to say this is one series that has completely won me over. I want a whole lot more stories set in this world and with these characters. I hope Bujold takes another shot at it and continues it. What I love about Fawn is that she is a strong female character who is not a karate-expert or a cop or a witch, and is constantly finding herself in physically dangerous situations. I think it is very difficult to create a female character who does not possess extraordinary powers of any sort and is still equal to the male protagonist wrt power relations.

    Anyway, I couldn’t resist commenting as I was just fresh from having finished the series. I hope you have a great time reading the rest of the books after you’re done with this one.

    -anin

  2. 2
    Eirin says:

    Hee.
    I’m biased. I’ll eat anything Bujold puts out with a spoon, lick the plate and go back to press my snout against the window, hoping for more.
    I hope we haven’t seen the last of the Sharing Knife series, but I kinda got the feeling that Horizon is the final book. It has a concluding feel to it.

    I think I’ll go reread Bujold’s Chalion series now.

  3. 3
    Denni says:

    Erin said, “…I’ll eat anything Bujold puts out with a spoon, lick the plate and go back to press my snout against the window, hoping for more.”  I resemble that quote!

    Somewhere I read a comment from Bujold, The Sharing Knife was originally intended to be a trilogy.  Outgrew itself and became four (quad?), so I’m assuming the new release is final.  Ayone know if more Miles is in the works, or is that finished also?

  4. 4
    Molly says:

    Bujold is currently working on a Miles book. She read some chapters as GOH of, I think, Worldcon.

  5. 5
    kmartin802 says:

    When I saw her at the beginning of the month, she mentioned that she was at about chapter 11 (if I recall correctly) of the next Miles book. She is thinking that it will be a 2010 release from Baen.

    She did seem to indicate that the Sharing Knife series was over. That doesn’t mean that she might not revisit the world.

    She is a one-book-at-a-time sort of author. She also likes to write a book and then sell it so that she feels less pressure. This Baen contract has been on the back burner since shortly after Jim Baen passed away.

    She did not mention contracts or plans past finishing the Miles book she is currently writing.mLike she says, it has to be an idea she is willing to live with for more than a year.

    It doesn’t matter to me. If Lois writes it, I will read it and buy it in hardcover and soft as soon as I possibly can!

  6. 6
    jmc says:

    Here’s a relatively recent interview in which Bujold indicated that this particular series was complete, but that she could imagine writing more books set in that world.

  7. 7
    aninsomniac says:

    Here’s a relatively recent interview in which Bujold indicated that this particular series was complete, but that she could imagine writing more books set in that world

    I hope her imagination runs wild!!

    -anin

  8. 8
    Rosa says:

    Aninsomniac, wanna talk about book 4 someplace we won’t spoil it for everybody?

    I could put up an LJ post (any of my friends who might want to read the SK books, has, trust me) or give you my email addy, or if you found a forum where they were talking about it, please tell me where it is!

    Seriously, the last book made me rethink the themes of the whole thing & my friends are either SF people who hated the first two books & won’t read the rest, or romance people who have it somewhere in their TBR lists & are waiting for the paperback.

  9. 9
    aninsomniac says:

    Rosa, sure, I’d love to discuss it! NONE of my friends read fantasy anymore. Sadness…

    LJ post might be the safest starting point? Giving out email addresses here might have junky consequences, who knows~

    -anin

  10. 10
    Rosa says:

    I’m rosalux on LJ, but give me a day or two to get the post up – technically, I’m working right now ;)

  11. 11
    aninsomniac says:

    Sure, Rosa. I am i-hate-reenters in the lj, which I never update and only use to comment, etc. XD

    -anin

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