>> Sunday, July 24, 2011
TITLE: The Sharing Knife Vol. 3: Passage
AUTHOR: Lois McMaster Bujold
SETTING: Fantasy world
TYPE: Fantasy romance
SERIES: Part of the Sharing Knife series, follows vols. 1 and 2
Young Fawn Bluefield and soldier-sorcerer Dag Redwing Hickory have survived magical dangers and found, in each other, love and loyalty. But even their strength and passion cannot overcome the bigotry of their own kin, and so, leaving behind all they have known, the couple sets off to find fresh solutions to the perilous split between their peoples.The first installment of this series gave us the necessary background about the farmers, the second concentrated on the Lakewalkers. By the end of book 2, Dag and Fawn have realised that the way things stand between the two communities, they won't be able to make a good life in either. In this third book (which is very definitely a continuation of the bigger story, so do not start here, it doesn't stand alone), they set off on a journey, trying to find a third way. And along the way, they and the companions they pick up on the way without really meaning to, will start to find some indications that there might be a way forward.
But they will not journey alone. Along the way they acquire comrades, starting with Fawn's irrepressible brother Whit, whose future on the Bluefield family farm seems as hopeless as Fawn's once did. Planning to seek passage on a riverboat heading to the sea, Dag and Fawn find themselves allied with a young flatboat captain searching for her father and fiancé, who mysteriously vanished on the river nearly a year earlier. They travel downstream, hoping to find word of the missing men, and inadvertently pick up more followers: a pair of novice Lakewalker patrollers running away from an honest mistake with catastrophic consequences; a shrewd backwoods hunter stranded in a wreck of boats and hopes; and a farmer boy Dag unintentionally beguiles, leaving Dag with more questions than answers about his growing magery.
As the ill-assorted crew is tested and tempered on its journey to where great rivers join, Fawn and Dag will discover surprising new abilities both Lakewalker and farmer, a growing understanding of the bonds between themselves and their kinfolk, and a new world of hazards both human and uncanny.
While I'd say that if you liked the first two you'll definitely enjoy this one, the feel of it is a bit different. Things had been getting a bit hopeless in the previous two books, more difficult for Fawn and Dag as a couple. But Dag is now a new man. His very radical decision to leave his fellow Lakewalkers behind seems to have refreshed him, basically because he has found a mission.
Dag has decided to single-handedly improve Lakewalker/farmer relations. Fawn seems bemused by all this, and a bit doubtful, but these two have reached a sort of "warm-glow" stage in their relationship, and she supports him. This volume, as you might have deduced, is very much about Dag, with Fawn playing a supporting role. And actually, I didn't mind at all, as I'm sure she'll get her chance later to take centre stage.
I also didn't mind because it's a fascinating mission that Dag has undertaken, and one that only a person as honourable and good as he is could have come up with. I absolutely loved his determination to actually speak of things, his idea that it's ignorance that fuels the misunderstandings, and that if Lakewalkers weren't so damned mysterious about what they can do, there would be a lot more clarity and they'd all get along much better. This shocks his fellow Lakewalkers speechless, and the farmers, faced with this very open and transparent Lakewalker who actually wants to talk about what he does, are almost as shocked. It doesn't always go perfectly, but it's a good effort.
The journey is full of interesting supporting characters and perilous adventures, and satisfied me completely. I want to read Volume 4 now, but half of me doesn't want this series to end.
MY GRADE: B+.