Once Upon A Romance

Once Upon A Romance's Review Of...
Horizon by Lois McMaster Bujold


Cover art: Horizon Guest Reviewer: Jay Graham
Title: Horizon - 4th in The Sharing Knife series
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-137536-1
Release Date: January 2009
Genre/Sub-genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy
Year/Setting: Similar to American Midwestern Frontier 19th century but with mythical properties
Overall Rating: 4.0
Sexual Content Rating: Subtle with some Sensual scenes
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: Mild, even if profane, the words are alien or otherworldly
Violent Content Rating: Minimal with the only significant battle or fight scenes at the end of the book
Lois' Website/Blog: www.dendarii.com

There are a lot of things to like about The Sharing Knife, Horizon. At once this is a story of a bride and groom growing together and getting to know each other. There is a wondrous "road trip" via riverboat to a far location where new characters are added to the story during the journey. This story also tackles the timeless issues where two peoples can’t get along and the stress that places on a couple coming from both cultures. The story is complicated by the fact Dag is old enough to be Fawn’s grandfather and finally it is a book about a coming of age in a man (Dag) who finally learns his place in life; that his talents and abilities are to be tested by a growing evil that others around him do not see.

The author, Lois McMaster Bujold, writes this book as a conclusion to a four part series about Dag Redwing Hickory, a 55 year old Lakewalker who marries 18 year old Fawn Bluefield, Farmer. Of course, neither family wants them to marry and Fawn’s family is especially concerned about her being pregnant. The tale is set in a world where Dag’s people, the Lakewalkers, have been battling evil for years to protect the larger community, including Fawn’s people, the Farmers, from a growing evil. This vanguard role, and the secrecy around the Lakewalkers add to an already uneasy relationship between Lakewalkers and Farmers for they look, act and speak in different ways.

The story was solid, character development was superb and the imagery magnificent in detail. However, this is not a book one can read standalone. Concepts such as "grounding," "mud-men," "sharing knives" and "malices" are used. And without the benefit of the earlier works in the series, these concepts are introduced conversationally and not really explained. At one point just to follow the story I had to look up the prior works and scan through them.

The best part of the story for me was enjoying the back to back position Dag and Fawn were put in. These two had to depend on each other against all comers, those from an evil realm and those from the people that knew them each in the time before they married. The author did a good job of making adversary bind them to each other and grow. I also especially loved the various folk that joined them on the riverboat journey. There were whole scenes in the book that I would have loved to step into and participate.

This is a great book and I recommend it highly, but please not until after you have read (in order):

The Sharing Knife: Beguilement
The Sharing Knife: Legacy
The Sharing Knife: Passage


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