The Sharing Knife: Horizon
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Review by Gayle Surrette
Eos Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061375361
Date: 01 February 2009 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Interview: Lois MacMaster Bujold / Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Horizon is the final book of the Sharing Knife series and as such it pulls together all the threads that have gone before, ties them up in a nice package that keeps you glued to your seat and reading to the wee hours. There's so much going on in the series that trying to decide what could safely be told about the plot without spoiling it for those who haven't yet read the first three volumes is, well beyond me. Suffice it to say, that Dag and Fawn have not succeeded in changing the world by the end of the series but they've seriously put some wrenches in the works. Things have changed in this "wide green world".
Change comes at a price. It always has. But, who pays that price and how they pay it, that is the stuff of stories and legends. Change is coming to the world. It's the only constant. Dag saw that change was needed before he ever met Fawn Bluefield on the road. Fawn, on the other hand, was seeking change. She reached for something different. The farmer girl and the Lakewalker patroller found each other. It's of such small events that change comes. Together they examined their assumptions and beliefs. Luckily, because this is a story, the reader gets to join them on their adventure from the safety of our homes.
The world and the characters are rich in detail and reading the clear, clean prose allows one to enter the "wide green world". Not your usual fantasy world, this is very much frontier country. There's land to be farmed and the farmers keep moving into new areas, starting new farms, forming towns, and populating the land. The Lakewalker patrol the land, killing malices, and keeping the farmers safe. The problem is the Lakewalkers are not growing as fast as the farmers and the more land with farmers, the more stretched the Lakerwalkers become, and the greater chance that a malice will form in an inhabited area gaining strength and becoming too powerful for the Lakewalkers to kill.
Lakewalkers have psychic ability of a sort and keep to themselves. They need their ability to find and kill the malices when they find them. Their clannish nature causes the farmers to mistrust them and, since they do such a great job at keep the farmers safe, most have never seen a malice and many don't believe they exist. The tension varies from place to place but it's always there, causing mistrust and misunderstandings on both sides.
Now you throw in a Lakewalker who happens to fall in love with a farmer girl and wants to marry her -- an event particularly forbidden by Lakewalker custom -- and we're off on book one, Beguilement.
Throughout the series, we've seen Dag and Fawn as the nexus for change. They go about their lives being who and what they are but by that simple act they change the people around them. Their journey is one of discovery and as readers we get to take that journey with them.
One of the hallmarks of a great book for me is that instead of reading the book, I get so engrossed that I forget that I'm reading and I'm just watching the story unfold. Bujold consistently, for me, writes in a style that invites me to enter the world and observe the story unfolding. The Sharing Knife series is one story in four parts. You could conceivable read the books as stand-alones, there is information in each one to bring you up to speed on what's happened so far, but to get the full import it's best to read them in sequence, for the story takes you full circle in many ways. But when you get back to the beginning, it's changed.