Lois McMaster Bujold
Eos, Feb 2009, $25.95
The Malices continue their success of converting helpless humans into murderous “mudmen.” The only resistance against the evil Malices remains the Lakewalkers although they remain standoffish without offering pragmatic advice.
Former patroller Dag Hickory was fired and exiled for crossing the forbidden demarcation zone between his peer group and that of the the farmers when he rescued Fawn Bluefield from an assault, fell in love with the farmer’s daughter, and married her; she too is exiled from her community. He demands the Lakewalkers get involved with the community they claim to protect. He persuades Lakewalker groundsetter to mentor and teach him the magical art of healing, but crosses another taboo line again when he uses his new skill to heal a gravely ill farm child. Dag and his pregnant wife travel through the mountains teeming with mudmen trying to reach the haven of a friend even as the world they may have to leave behind is teetering on the brink of collapse.
The fourth cerebral Sharing Knife fantasy (see PASSAGE, LEGACY and BEGUILEMENT) continues to explore the negative impact of prejudice on people. Each of the three prime groups have vivid pictures of how they see the other two races and cannot move past those deep rooted beliefs even when it negatively impacts their well-being and that of their loved ones. This causes cultural stagnation that stifles potential as everyone is forced into the limited norm, exiled or killed. Bias is so bone marrow deep that the only hope to save the world (Dag and Fawn) is pariahs in the communities they respectively grew up in. Once again Lois McMaster Bujold provides a beguiling thought provoking tale with the audience wondering if a new HORIZON has formed or will distrust of those different continue to rule and destroy.