Today's book review is The Sharing Knife, Volume 1: Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold.
This is the first book in a new fantasy series. It's an impressive piece of worldbuilding, not for its meticulous detail, but for its originality and effectiveness. We're not buried in exposition, but as the novel unfolds we get hints of a coherent history and a larger world than the lives of the characters, even though the actual story is about two characters. Bujold also invents, yet again, an original and convincing kind of magic, which she describes with enough detail to engage without explaining so much that it rings hollow. The story is of how the lives of a young peasant woman and an older, embittered man from a mysterious society of magic-using Lakewalkers come to be intertwined. It might be a touch sappy to some people, though there is some high adventure, but I found it very well written. Bujold uses the lens of an imagined culture to illuminate some universal truths about being human.
This is not as grand a world as Chalion, but it is quite original and masterfully evoked. And some people might find the romantic plot trite, but I found it beautiful. 10 out of 10.
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