Click here to read reviewer David Roy's take on Legacy (The Sharing Knife #2).
I am a real fan of Lois McMaster Bujold's work. She was initially known for her Miles Vorkosigan series of nearly 20 books, but I actually preferred her foray into fantasy, The Curse Of Chalion and Paladin Of Souls particularly. “The Sharing Knife” duology (the first book called Beguilement, followed by this one, Legacy) is set in a different time and world than that of the Chalion/Hallowed Hunt books – this world is more like an agrarian early America.
My first comment is that if you haven't read The Sharing Knife: Beguilement yet, then you need to buy that book before you even consider this one. These two books are a duology but, unlike pretty much all Bujold's other books, I felt this one would have been rather a struggle if read on its own. So if you haven't read Beguilement, then get it first and don't read on as this review of Legacy has spoilers for the first book.
This book starts where Beguilement left off – Dag and Fawn are married and are making their way to Dag's home. We have gone through the difficulties Fawn faced with her family's dubious acceptance of her new husband; now we get the same from Dag's people's point of view - only worse.
A lot of this book seems to be about cross-cultural clashes. The Lakewalkers and Farmers are different groups of people, neither of which can accept the other. Dag's marriage with Fawn has actually broken some Lakewalker rules, and despite him being a semi-hero, it seems his friends and relatives don't cut him a lot of slack.
The first half of the book is about Fawn and Dag trying to settle down in Lakewalker territory – and struggling. They also try to find out more about the primed Sharing Knife that Fawn now has. It seems this is something a little outside Lakewaker experience. Then they hear of another Malice/Blight Bogle attack, and Dag has to go on patrol, Fawn being left behind to fend for herself amongst unfriendly people.
There's a lot in this book about the “grounds”, the Lakewalker magic which Fawn cannot see. There's also more about the Malice and how it takes over people and ground, as well as some interesting vignettes into Lakewalker life. I enjoyed the book, but I didn't always know quite what was going on with some of the more esoteric “ground” discussions.
Lois Bujold's writing style is as appealing as ever. As usual, her characters carry on quite a lot of inner monologues, so you get to understand how different people interpret the same events. I still have some residual doubts about the wisdom of a 55-year-old-man marrying an 18-year-old woman but, after all, this is fiction. Poor Fawn has to deal with not only being nearly 40 years younger than her husband but also being rather inept in the Lakewalker territory, being a farmer girl. Her skills, and she does have some, aren't really appreciated except by Dag, and she puts up with an amazing amount of insults.
Legacy is a fun read, has some nice moments of romance as well as a message about tolerance between different groups, but it’s not quite up to the standard of The Curse Of Chalion. It still deserves 5 stars, though!