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The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold

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  • William C. Garthright
    I just finished *The Sharing Knife, Volume 2: Legacy* by Lois McMaster Bujold, the conclusion to her latest fantasy. From what I ve heard, this wasn t
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 13, 2007
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      I just finished *The Sharing Knife, Volume 2: Legacy* by Lois McMaster
      Bujold, the conclusion to her latest fantasy. From what I've heard, this
      wasn't originally intended to be a duology. I guess it was written as
      one long book, but her publisher decided to separate it into two for
      publication.

      Although Bujold is my favorite author, I was disappointed when I read
      the first volume, *The Sharing Knife, Volume 1: Beguilement*, last year.
      I like some romance in my fantasy, but this had seemed more like a
      romance novel in a fantasy setting - and one with an extreme
      May-December romance, at that. The heroine was a teenager, but her love
      interest was almost 40 years older - more than three times her age, in
      fact. It wasn't child abuse - quite - but it was too close for my
      comfort. And I couldn't see any reason for it (and still can't).

      Anyway, before I read volume two this week, I re-read the first. It's
      still Bujold, after all, and she's a joy to read. I wasn't quite so
      bothered by this romance the second time through. I supposed I'd gotten
      used to the idea. But I still wasn't crazy about it, and the romance was
      still a bit excessive. The second volume takes up the story immediately
      from the first, as if it's just the next chapter, and it's just as
      readable. There's still plenty of romance, but I enjoyed this book more
      than the first. There are new characters, a bit more action, and a
      completely different society. Bujold is superb at character-based
      fiction, and the actions of even minor characters always ring true. The
      ending is realistic, too - which wouldn't be too easy in a story like this.

      I still don't think this is one of her best, but even her worst would be
      pretty good. No, it's not a masterpiece like *The Curse of Chalion*
      (2001) or so many books in her Vorkosigan space opera series, but it's
      not bad. If you liked the first volume, you'll definitely like the
      conclusion. To my mind, it would have been a lot better with a closer
      age difference between the heroes, and if she'd edited out a bit of the
      pervasive romance in the first volume (and much of the wedding
      preparations - ugh!). But if you like romance novels, maybe that would
      appeal to you. (No, I've never actually read a romance novel, so I
      suppose I don't know what I'm talking about. Is this incredible age
      difference common in them?)

      I do hope Bujold moves on to something different. (Either way, I'm sure
      I'll buy it, since she deserves my trust.) Much as I loved *The Curse of
      Chalion* and its sequel, *Paladin of Souls* (which, in part, seemed to
      be almost a parody of a romance novel), I wish she'd go back to science
      fiction. Not the Vorkosigan saga. I'd say it's time to put that to rest
      and start something entirely new. But I guess she tried something new
      with this, and I didn't especially like it. Never satisfied, am I? :-)

      Bill

      --
      As a longtime attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, I can honestly
      say that I have never been as ashamed of the department and government
      that I serve as I am at this time. - John S.Koppel
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