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Beguilement (The Sharing Knife, Book 1) Hardcover – October 10, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; First Edition edition (October 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061137588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061137587
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,433,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Compelling characters lift this first of a two-book romantic fantasy from Hugo-winner Bujold (The Hallowed Heart), set in a dangerous land without a name, though individual towns, villages and hamlets are specified. Dag, a Lakewalker patroller with a dry wit, is dedicated to destroying the evil "malices" that blight the countryside. Fawn, a runaway farm girl, helps him kill a malice and its zombie-like mud-men, but not before the malice destroys her unborn child by taking its "ground" or life force. Fawn slays the malice with Dag's sharing knife, a bone blade created to carry the spirit of a dying patroller, but Dag's formerly empty knife now carries the baby's ground. Dag and Fawn fall in love while he helps her recover from her miscarriage. Bujold hints at an epic past of mighty kingdoms and ancient sorceries—a past that will hopefully be fully detailed in the sequel. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Bujold's The Curse of Chalion (2001) and The Hallowed Hunt (2005, both Morrow/Avon) walked a fine line between fast-paced quest fantasy and character-driven romance. Here the fantasy is in the background, making the developing romance between the main characters, Dag and Fawn, the primary story. The two meet when the wandering adventurer Dag rescues the farmer's daughter Fawn from a Malice, a powerful demonic creature capable of bending the wills and flesh of others to itself. While there is action and drama, the end result is that the events seem built for the singular purpose of pushing Dag and Fawn together instead of moving along any other plot thread. This is a big shift for Bujold's fans, who might expect layers of political intrigue and thrilling action alongside the love story. Fortunately, the lovers are compelling characters, and Bujold delivers a novel that is a sweet, touching, and fast read. While it seems difficult to imagine how a love story can carry a whole fantasy series, teens will want to see how this tale continues in the next volume.–Matthew L. Moffett, Ford's Theatre Society, Washington, DC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Esther Schindler TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Lois McMaster Bujold has become one of my favorite authors. She has all the skill of worldbuilding of, say, CJ Cherryh, an unrivaled ability to combine humor and unstoppable action, and the ability to draw believeable characters about whom I care desperately. She also knows how to write a romantic love story. Beguilement draws upon all those strengths -- but it's somewhat different than Chalion and the Vor universes.

This is a much simpler tale. For example, it doesn't have the history that the Vor universe has... a history that slowly dawns on you as you figure out the reasons each society adopts given attitudes, and the reasons that Miles Vorkosigan is unlikely to discover simple answers. The books in the Chalion series are built on the premise of gods who can, indirectly at least, interact with the world they created. In Beguilement, the world in which Dag and Fawn live has a history, some of which the author has not yet revealed to us, but the world doesn't draw your attention away from the story. Most of the time, anyway. It also doesn't have the non-stop action that characterizes several of the Vor books (which makes me think of James Bond in Space).

As a result, you don't have to have your brain in operation full-time; Beguilement is a book to relax with rather than to cause you to think deep thoughts.

Some of the reviewers here are disappointed that this is just another love story, but I think they may be missing the clues that Bujold leaves all over the place; you just know that the newlyweds will have more to cope with in the next book than convincing Dag's family to accept Fawn. It's obvious that Dag and Fawn will encounter something far more dangerous than the cultural clash that forms the tension through much of this book.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Lovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on June 4, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Bujold is one of my favorite fantasy authors, on a par with Patricia McKillip and R. A. MacAvoy when she's firing on all of her imagination cylinders. But this book was a bit kinder, gentler, sweeter, and umm, duller than I was expecting from her. I was looking forward to another "Spirit Ring" and got a double-decker romance. To be fair it has a decent monster, but only in a cameo role. It's a quick "Look, there's the Monster!" in Chapter 5, then nothing fantastical appears for the rest of the book.

Okay, well the hero heals a bowl on page 289.

It's usually an indication of laziness, when a second character has to explain why the book's heroine is special, rather than showing her in action and letting the reader decide. Normally Lois McMaster Bujold's specialty is finely wrought, believable characters, but in "Beguilement" she rushes the reader to judgment. We are told right away that Fawn Bluefield is likeable, intelligent, and pretty. There is no real reason for the author to do this, since Fawn is on stage through the rest of the book, and she really has all of those fine qualities. Maybe the author's `tell rather than show' policy is the reason why "Beguilement" seems more like a romance than a fantasy.

Most of the magic and action take place in the first 50 pages of "Beguilement," and after that we are treated to lots of background, world-building, and a slow but obvious romance. However, there's not much of a plot. If I were to leave out what little magic there is, I could summarize the plot as: heroine runs away from home, falls in love, and with the encouragement of her lover, is reconciled with her family. It could almost be a Jane Austen novel except for the monster.

And that pesky bowl.

I'm not really complaining, though. I like romances, and am looking forward to the next installment of "The Sharing Knife." I just feel like I bought the first book of the series under false colours.
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51 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Amber D. Goodman on October 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am a HUGE Bujold fan and have been since Warriors Apprentice. Paladin of Souls is one of my all time fav books with Chalion somewhere in the top 10. After having said this, I was not really that impressed with Beguilement. I am used to having Bujold explore the faults and flaws of her characters and the overcoming of these to further the story. She did this a little bit in Beguilement, but not as much as she normally does. I am very interested in Vol 2 and will buy it on it's release date, I am not saying it is a horrible book. Just it is not what I have come to expect from her. More than anything, Beguilement is a love story. I guess, for me at least, she focused too much on the love story and not enough on the other aspects.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By CindiJeanie on March 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is more about romance and relationships and less about an intriguing new world. The female protagonist is much like a combination of Fiametta from Spirit Ring and Ijada from The Hallowed Hunt and our male protagonist is much like Ingrey, also from The Hallowed Hunt. The romance is predictable and there were a few pages I skipped because Bujold included way too much information about their blossoming sex life.

What makes Bujold's books so special is the genius complexity of her worlds and characters. This book's world, by contrast, is fairly simple and the magic, while interesting, is backstaged by the romance between the two characters -- romance during which Bujold broke the "show don't tell" rule of writing and didn't spare us any details about what either of the characters were thinking. It's a psychological study; there's no mystery or suspense.

I am biased because I don't like books about romance and I was hoping for the usual Bujold fare. Read it if you must -- I couldn't resist even though the inside flap made me wary -- but I found The Sharing Knife to be predictable and not up to par with Bujold's past creations.

Still, even Bujold not at her best is still Bujold... so if you can't resist, go ahead. You'll probably find something about it to like.
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