The Sharing Knife Volume One, By Lois McMaster Bujold

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SierraStrider
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The Sharing Knife Volume One, By Lois McMaster Bujold

Postby SierraStrider » Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:06 pm

I recently stumbled across a series of books by a favorite author--Lois McMaster Bujold. Her Vorkosigan Saga is an excellent piece of SciFi, with some of the best characterization I've encountered in that genre.

The series in question, The Sharing Knife and its first two novels of the same name, are...less up my specific alley, but still quite enjoyable. Of note to this venue are the Lakewalkers, a community of nomadic monster slayers, central to the plot, who will seem very familiar in look and feel to anyone here. They're the lanky descendants of an attenuated noble lineage, who are looked upon with suspicion by those they protect from the dangers of the wild world beyond the borders of civilization.

Lest one think the book is just off-brand Dunedain fanfiction, it's worth saying that the cultural richness of McMaster Bujold's Lakewalkers is very impressive. I love the feel of the culture, an insular people with the bearing and casual condescension of aristocracy, but with the logistical and material constraints of nomads. Their clothes, for example, are far less fine than those of the "Farmers" (their generic term for all non-Lakewalkers) since they have no capacity for large, stationary looms.

The Lakewalker/Farmer cultural dynamic is fascinating, somewhere between Dunedain/Breelander, First Nations/Pioneer, and that of any number of insular communities relative to their surrounding cultures such as Jew/Gentile, Amish/English, or Roma/Gadjo. It's masterfully executed, as one would expect from a speculative fiction veteran of McMaster Bujold's caliber.

It is...definitely a romance novel, every bit as much as it is high-fantasy. The interactions between the main couple are rather saccharin-sweet, and there are some lengthy and explicit risqué passages that can be rather tedious if that's not something you're in the mood for. That said, there's enough else going on to keep the book engaging even for non-romance-fans like myself, and it's a refreshing change of pace from much modern writing where constant interpersonal strife is a primary avenue of dramatic tension and scarcely any two characters actually seem to like each other. Ultimately, I'd give it a warm recommendation.

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