TBR Day: Lois McMaster Bujold’s “The Sharing Knife – Legacy”

This is posted as part of Keishon’s TBR Day challenge, which is aimed at encouraging us readers with the towering TBR piles (you know who you are) to start tackling the books that have been languishing in there for eons.

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212b4xetwdl__aa_sl160_.jpgBook: The Sharing Knife: Legacy (2nd in the Sharing Knife series)

Author: Lois McMaster Bujold

Copyright date: 2007

Why did I buy the book?  Lois McMaster Bujold is one of my all-time favourite authors.  When I dicovered her Miles Vorkosigan SF series (relatively late – I think late 2006), I went on a massive glom and finished all of them within a couple of months.  A couple of them are A+ reads for me, and I do the occasional re-read every few months.  Ms Bujold then started a new fantasy series – the first book was “Beguilement”, followed by “Legacy”.

Why did it sit in my TBR pile for so long?  Well, I read “Beguilement” pretty much as soon as it was released, and I have to admit that it didn’t quite grab me.  Not because it wasn’t good (the reviews were all pretty amazing), but *sigh* I just wanted another Vorkosigan book – and let me just say, if you’ve ever read one, you’d understand why.  And this world Ms Bujold has created is just so completely different from the Vorkosigan universe.  So while I bought “Legacy” when it first came out, this book never quite made it to the top of the TBR pile.  Until now.

What is it about? 

Warning:  This review will contain spoilers for the first book.  It’s hard to separate the two books, and I will say “Legacy” is not a stand-alone book.  

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This book picks up exactly where the first book ends, so starts with Dag and Fawn on their honeymoon journey back to Lakewalker country.  Their marriage has been reluctantly accepted by Fawn’s family – now they find out how Dag’s family and community will react.  I don’t think it’ll give anything away to say that they’re not welcomed with open arms.  The news of Dag’s marriage with a Farmer girl is greeted with rather more than a raised eyebrow.  Before anything can be resolved, a vicious malice attack calls Dag away to lead a dangerous counter-attack, leaving Fawn alone to deal with the rising tensions in the Lakewalker camp.

So what did I think of it?

Right, in the first couple of chapters, I had trouble with the May-December aspect of Fawn and Dag’s relationship – I had to constantly keep reminding myself that he looks a couple of decades younger than he is.  Added to that, I also had trouble shutting out Miles’ voice completely – I read a couple of sentences and I either think “That is so Miles” or “How would Miles have reacted?”.  

But as I continued reading, it paid off – I become completely and utterly drawn into Fawn and Dag’s story.  It’s a… quiet story.  But not peaceful – no.  Ms Bujold always get the characters spot-on – every word, every action is completely true to the character’s  personality.  And oh, wonderful wonderful world-building.  The Lakewalker and Farmer communities, their power structure, the setting, the magic – all of these feels completely real and true.  On an aside, the physical setting, for some reason, I’m thinking Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn country.

The writing, well, there were a couple of scenes that stood out for me.  The night before Dag leaves on his mission – his worry for Fawn.  Especially if he didn’t come home.  Fawn’s fear and anxiety for Dag.  It was very very real.  And then when the patrol is closing in on the malice, the sheer weariness of the patrollers and their dogged determination to just keep on going – that was conveyed beautifully. 

As to the plot, I sort of knew how the book would end (hey, it’s been out almost a year now and the buzz about the next book has started), but what I didn’t know was how Dag and Fawn were going to get there.  They didn’t quite go about it the way I expected, but it was satisfactory. 

Umm… any niggles?  The sharing knife and malice explanations – I think I could have happily left it at sharing knives kill malices.  It made my head hurt to follow the explanations.  So I skimmed those bits.  Heh.  But it’s nice to know that err… it’s all been thought out properly.

Also, the underlying message about how the Lakewalker and farmer communities should work together, and how Lakewalkers shouldn’t isolate themselves from the rest of the world – hmmm… ever-so-slightly heavy-handed perhaps?

Finally, I’m wondering about Dag’s brother and his attitude – I’m getting the feeling there’s something unexplained there.  Or unfinished.  I hope we get to revisit that in a later book – there are two more planned in this series.

My conclusion? 

Well, I started the book late one evening, not feeling particularly excited about it, and reluctantly stopped about one-third through.  The next night, I stayed up until 2am to finish it.  It’s a solid A read for me – my second of the year. 

214p7q1lg5l__aa_sl160_.jpgI suspect I was just in the wrong mood when reading the first book, “Beguilement”.  Or just had very different expectations.  This book is really more a romance than a fantasy, if that makes sense. 

The third book, “Passages”, is out next month, and it’s definitely on my To Buy list.

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