Saturday, May 24, 2014

Book Review: The Sharing Knife, Part 1: Beguilement

Beguilement (The Sharing Knife, #1)Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When farmer girl Fawn gets herself in trouble (in the old-fashioned way), she runs away from home, but ends up finding even greater trouble, in the form of a malice. Fortunately, she also finds Dag, the alluring though much older Lakewalker.

Lakewalkers roam the land seeking out and destroying malices, creatures that suck the life out of everything around them. Despite performing this important service, they are not well-liked by farmers, who fear them as necromancers. Lakewalkers, in their turn, hold the farmers in contempt and see them as something like ungrateful children. So you can imagine that when Dag and Fawn fall in love and want to get married, the reaction on either side is less than positive.

This first book is mostly about the romance blossoming between Dag and Fawn, but it also begins to fill in the background of a complex and fascinating world, where everyone has a life force, known as a "ground," that can be detected and manipulated by those with a "groundsense"—mostly Lakewalkers, but also the rare gifted farmer. Where immaterial, immortal beings called "malices" clothe themselves in flesh and gain strength by consuming the ground of all living things around them, resulting in dead areas called "blights." Where said malices can be "taught mortality" through the sharing knives, which are made through the deaths of two people, and are so called because they share their deaths with the malices they pierce.

Featuring likeable characters, tense adventures, and even a believable and sensitive sex scene (yes! who would have thought it possible?), this is a compelling and promising start to the quadrilogy.

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