All the reviews said: ‘Good, but not as good as Curse of Chalion,’ so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. On the whole I would agree, but to my mind it will be a very exceptional book that is as good as Curse of Chalion, so what to we have here? While not Bujold’s absolute best, it’s still very good indeed. A fantasy, but also more of a romance in that apart from a few monsters (inhuman and human) the plot is fairly well kept inside within a boy-meets-girl scenario, even though neither the ‘boy’ nor the ‘girl’ are exactly typical.
Lakewalker patroller Dag rescues, and falls for, young Fawn Bluefeld, a young woman from a farming family who is much less than half his age. He has to slay a monster first, but that’s his job. Scarier than the monster is Fawn’s family because Lakewalkers and farmers don’t mix and there’s much cultural misunderstanding. I have a soft spot for Bujold’s damaged heroes and there is a comparison between Dag and Cas (the hero in Chalion) in that Dag has that same lack of awareness of his own heroic qualities while at the same time having certain knowledge of his own abilities which inspires the reader’s utter confidence in the fact that if he says he’ll do something, he’ll do it or go down trying. Cas is still my favourite hero, but Dag is up there in the top ten list and that’s saying an awful lot.