This is the third book in the Sharing Knife series, which picks up immediately following the end of the second book, making this series more a single story broken into volumes rather than the more typical standalone story within each book. Each book does have a narrative arc to define it, but the series is more about the progression of events that began in the first book. I know I always say you need to read series in order, but for this one it's crucial.
As always, I strive to avoid spoilers, but it's tough with a series such as this. So if you are at all interested in a fantasy series that is first and foremost about character development, but is set in a unique fantasy world, is beautifully written and has a touch of romance to it, please read my thoughts on the first book, Beguilement. I have been listening to the audio versions of this series from the start, as I have very much enjoyed Bernadette Dunne's narration of books by Tamora Pierce, and she does a fantastic job with these as well.
In this installment, Lakewalker Dag and Fawn, his farmer bride, have set out to travel around the land. Their somewhat nebulous goal is to educate farmers about Lakewalker customs. Because Lakewalkers are the only people in the land who have ground sense, a sort of extra sense that enables them to sense the life force of the plants, animals, and people around them, they are uniquely qualified to combat the beings known as malices. These creatures periodically emerge from underground, like locusts, and proceed to drain the life force from everything around them. But superstitions have created distrust between farmers and Lakewalkers, and it is this very distrust that is jeopardizing the land - if farmers cannot trust Lakewalkers enough to call for help (or do not recognize the signs of a malice infestation in the first place), how can they hope to eradicate the malice in the short time they have before it molts and becomes nearly unstoppable?
Dag and Fawn secure passage on a riverboat heading downstream with some farmers, and they acquire a couple more Lakewalkers along the way. The combination of farmers and Lakewalkers proves to serve as an excellent starting point to try out their plans. Dag makes some startling discoveries about his magical gifts that go against everything he's ever been taught, and the farmers on board learn some new and interesting facts about the way Lakewalkers use their magic. During this time, Dag and Fawn are easing into their new husband-and-wife relationship, learning a few things about each other, too.
This is a very enjoyable series, sometimes quiet and contemplative, at others of suspense and tension. I like meeting some new characters during Fawn and Dag's journey and, as always, enjoyed my time spent in the delightful company of Dag and Fawn.
Books in the Sharing Knife series:
Passage (#3 in the Sharing Knife series) by Lois McMaster Bujold; narrated by Bernadette Dunne (Blackstone Audio, 2008)
Also reviewed at:
Fantasy Book Critic: "...expect characters you can’t help but fall in love with, a world that sometimes feels more alive than our own, and themes that we can all relate to including prejudice, sacrifice, family, and of course, love…"
Fyrefly's Book Blog: "...the series as a whole should definitely be of interest to anyone who
likes well-developed non-traditional fantasy worlds, and doesn’t mind a
little romance (really not much at all, at least in this volume) stirred
into the mix."