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The Spirit Ring Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2000

53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hugo and Nebula winner Bujold (the Miles Vorkosigan series; Barrayar ) makes her hardcover debut with this enthralling dark fantasy set in Renaissance Italy, where the church regulates magic and licenses magicians. After Uberto Ferrante assassinates the Duke of Montefoglia and takes over the duchy, master goldsmith and sorcerer Prospero Beneforte flees with his 16-year-old daughter, Fiametta. But he dies of a heart attack while being pursued by Ferrante's men for his magical powers and knowledge. His unshriven body is taken back to Ferrante to be used in making a spirit ring granting the usurper the strong powers of black magic. Fiametta, talented in magic and metalwork but untrained because she is female, joins with Thur Ochs, a young Swiss with untapped skills in necromancy, to rescue the souls of her father and of Ochs's brother, a mercenary soldier. Aided by a wise churchman, the two youngsters take on the ancient evil of sorcery used for devilish ends. In a perfectly natural manner, Bujold incorporates the concept of magic into this crisply paced, fully developed tale. She notes that Benvenuto Cellini served as the inspiration for the hugely talented, hugely egocentric Beneforte.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.



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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Baen; Reprint edition (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671578707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671578701
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,874,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By K. Bennett on January 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This was the first Lois McMaster Bujold book I ever read (and now I've read them all) and it's still one of my favorites. What makes this book stand out from all the other Middle Ages, magical rings books is, first and foremost, this book makes sense! Bujold carefully lays down the ground rules for the use of magic in her world, and then she sticks to them. There's no "Deus ex machina" in The Spirit Ring, just a wonderful, witty, entirely "believable" story. As always in a Bujold book, there's mystery, comedy, action, and even a little romance.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Peter D. Tillman VINE VOICE on January 6, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Spirit Ring" is based on "The Grateful Dead", which is an old
folk-tale (young man pays for a pauper's burial, and is rewarded by his
ghost), Bujold's great-uncle's Ph.D. dissertation, and (I presume)
source of the band's name. This is, I think, her most personal novel. The
heroine's domineering, larger-than-life father must be, in part, LMB's own
engineer-father, though the character is formally modeled on Benvenuto
Cellini. The spunky, rebellious, and ultimately spectacularly successful
daughter is surely, in part, Lois herself (or at least a power-fantasy
wish-fulfillment mental self-image).

Huh. I don't normally do (or like) this sort of review, but it feels right this time.
Read the book and see what you think.

LMB has said that the engineer-hero of "Falling Free"
was explicitly modeled after her Dad. And "The Spirit Ring" is her only
female coming-of-age novel. None of this will get in the way of your
enjoyment of the book, BTW, it's Bujold at her story-telling best, a fine
and stirring yarn indeed.

We're in the smokehouse at a rural inn:

Thur glanced up, then his gaze was riveted by what lay in the shadows
above the rafters... the nude body of a gray-bearded man, close-wrapped in
the same sort of gauze as the sausages... His skin was shrivelled and
tanning in the smoke.

"Pico was right," Thur observed after a moment's stunned silence. "Your
wife does smoke the most unusual hams."

Catti glanced up after him. "Oh, that," he said in disgust. "...He's a
refugee from Montefoglia who didn't quite make it.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 10, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A quite enjoyable book. Being a fan of the Vorkosigan books, I put off reading this book out of fear that a SF author's first (and at the time only) foray into fantasy wouldn't be up to snuff. I was quite pleased to find my fears were unfounded.

LMB brings a "scientific" approach to magic, which is quite refreshing compared to the average fantasy novel. While not at all all similar, it reminds me of Modessit's concept of magic (where there are systematic rules to how magic works).

The book does suffer from a slight lack of character development, and there aren't too many surprises at the end. But these problems are quite small when compared to the fact that the book is just plain fun to read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had thought that I'd read EVERY book Bujold wrote. She's among my most-favorite authors: The people whose books you grab off the bookstore shelf without even examining the back cover, because you have absolute faith you'll enjoy anything she writes. But I found The Spirit Ring on the shelf at my nearby library; I hadn't even known this book existed. I'm glad I grabbed it -- and now you have the opportunity to do so, too.

If you're a fan of Bujold's books -- either the Miles Vorkosigan SF series or her fantasy series (Chalion and The Sharing Knife), then I don't need to tell you that Bujold has the gift of making believable characters in engaging settings, usually with a giggle-out-loud sense of humor. She does an amazing job of putting her characters through plots best described as One Damned Thing After Another and making me turn pages long after my bedtime. Underneath some damned fine storytelling she usually has includes a fascinating What If premise (e.g. what would the ramifications be if THIS technology existed, or if Gods actually *could* interact with people, or...).

The Spirit Ring doesn't live up to her tippy-top best work, but it's still a fun story.

This fantasy takes place in an alternate medieval Italy, wherein the major difference is that magic works (with well defined physics and limitations) and is accepted by the Church (under regulation). One of the two protagonists is Fiametta, the daughter of an accomplished metalworker and mage. 16-year-old Fiametta has been taught some metalcraft but her father's unwilling to train her in magic because she's a GIRL. (Girls still have cooties in alternate universes. Well, it wouldn't have helped the story if Fiametta had confidence in what she's doing.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Phillip B. Spotts on February 10, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am having a real problem with this one. On one hand I know it is a relatively simplistic tale, with an average story line and mediocre characters. The dialogue seems forced sometimes and a bit, well, underdone at others. So what is my problem?
I really like it! I mean I had fun with this story. Even with its problems I enjoyed reading it, several times as a matter of fact. I enjoyed the interaction of the characters, the budding romance, the mixture of religion and magic.
Dispassionately looking at this book it really doesn't rate anything above a 3, but if I were rating on my enjoyment alone it would easily be a 4 or maybe even a 5. This seems to be written with a younger audience in mind and should be classified as young adult or juvenile fiction. No sex, little violence and a quick read. If you like fantasy, especially young adult type of fantasy I think you will like this.
Highly recommended.
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