Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold

I really had high hopes for this book, which is the first volume of a series called The Sharing Knife. My hopes were high not so much because I had heard anything about this book, but because I wanted it to be good. I wanted to get involved in another fantasy series. Alas, wanting isn’t enough. This was just average, and certainly not compelling enough to make me go on and read the rest of the series.

Lois McMaster Bujold is the author of the very popular science fiction/fantasy series about Miles Vorkosigan (of which I think there are currently 18 books, but there may be more). I tried to read these but they were too hard science fiction for me, what with their spaceships and wormholes and such. I also tried to read another fantasy novel by Bujold, The Curse of Chalion, but I can’t remember why I didn’t like it. Beguilement was my most recent attempt at her work.

The world of The Sharing Knife was interesting (something like rural 19th century Europe or North America but with bad monsters called Malices who must be hunted and killed by roving bands of men and women called Lakewalkers). I was especially intrigued by the creatures called Mud Men, who are kind of like the golems of Eastern European lore, built by the Malices out of animals and mud, to do their evil bidding. But for some reason McMaster let these plot points fizzle out and spent way too much time on a romance between Dag, an older, disallusioned Lakewalker man and Fawn, a young (non-Lakewalker) woman. The age difference between these two was kind of off-putting, and Fawn was just silly even though she was brave. The action picked up again somewhat toward the end, but it was clear that a lot of this series was going to be about Dag and Fawn’s evolving relationship and not so much about the Malices and the Mud Men. That discovery disappointed me. If I want a relationship novel I can find plenty to choose from, but really cool constructs like the Mud Men are few and far between.

(Book 33, 2009)


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