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Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold

Beguilement - Lois McMaster Bujold

Fawn Bluefield spent the night in a barn and she’s a bit road weary for it. She had to leave her family’s farm and now she’s on her way to Glassforge, one of the larger cities, to find work. However, she’s soon swept up in an adventure she didn’t anticipate, one that takes much from her but holds the possibility of giving her much in return.

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. Fawn is in her late teens or early twenties and she has made this tough choice to head out on her own. We learn really early on that she’s pregnant and she doesn’t want to burden her family with the consequences, but she also doesn’t want to face their ridicule. As we learn about Fawn and her troubles, we also learn about this magical world around her. Plus, Fawn is short for her age and folks tend to underestimate her, or talk over her head and she has to correct them on that.

The Lakewalkers are little known to Fawn, other than she thinks it’s best to leave them alone. They patrol the area, often hunting malices and their mudmen. As a malice grows in size, it starts kidnapping more and more humans to do it’s bidding. The Lakewalkers do their best to put down these malices but with the constant suspicion from the settled folks, it can be a bit tough. Dag is an older Lakewalker with plenty of scars and losses to bear. Yet when Fawn needs his help, he doesn’t hesitate. The Lakewalker patrols are made up of both men and women and seem a but more open about several things, things that Fawn asks about later on, much to my amusement as it makes Dag blush!

I was definitely fascinated by the sharing knives and the groundsense the Lakewalkers have. This mystical element really drew me in and I found myself pondering all the ways one could make use of groundsense. I’m sure the Lakewalkers have some intricate social niceties when it comes to groundsense, just trying to be polite and not intrude on one another’s private thoughts and feelings. The sharing knives were intriguing but I found the rules for their making and use to be confusing. Perhaps that is better explained further along in the series.

The malices made me think of alien spores that were left here to terraform the planet to the aliens’s liking but were then abandoned because we have Lakewalkers who have sharing knives. Anyway, the malice in this story isn’t a straight up evil. It’s not something that Fawn can easily relate to or understand. But thankfully Dag has the experience and knows what to do! I think these malices are an interesting and worthy foe for the story.

Then we get to the second half of the book, which is just all romance. Now, I was already invested in Fawn and Dag, so I finished the book out. But I am not a romance genre person so I found the second half of the book slow and uneventful. There were some little nuggets here and there, such as meeting Fawn’s grandmother and learning about the bindings Lakewalkers use in their relationships, but the bulk of it was a snooze for me.

I really liked that the author put in common things that many women have to deal with that we typically don’t see in other fantasy fiction. There’s accidental pregnancy, miscarriage, talk of menstruation, and rape. Just an FYI – the rape is left incomplete because the bad guy is no longer able to continue on. I think authors shouldn’t be afraid to include such things in fiction because many of these things happen to many women and women make up a sizable part of the reading community. Kudos to the author for doing so!

I’m intrigued enough to want to continue the series but I probably won’t be dashing off to do so. Half a book of romance will last me quite some time.

The Narration: Bernadette Dunne was great for this book. She had a practical, if sometimes young, Fawn down to a tee. I also liked her gruff voice for Dag. She had a great older female voice for the practical Mari, Dag’s patrol captain.