The continuing adventures of Lakewalker, Dag Redwing Hickory and his ‘farmer’ wife Fawn Bluefeld, following on directly from the events in ‘Beguilement’ which ended with Dag and Fawn’s wedding at the Bluefeld farm, having more or less overcome her family’s objections. Now they’re off to face Dag’s family which is going to be a much more difficult sell because the Lakewalkers think they’re a cut above, magically, that is, and that the rest of the world – farmers whether they farm or not – are a bunch of ignorant ingrates.
Lakewalkers can sense ‘grounds,’ that’s life-energy to you and me, and they are dedicated to killing ‘malices’ – power-hungry entities that pop up out of the ground, and blight everything around – including people. Only Lakewalker magic can kill a malice, they’re immortal and immune to everything but specially prepared bone knives imbued with mortality. Nothing is more important to Lakewalkers than this duty and their whole way of life is dedicated to supporting their patrollers. It’s a tight knit little community that Fawn walks into – hoping she can impress Dag’s harridan mother. She doesn’t and neither does Dag who, it seems, is the son who can’t do anything right. Dag’s brother Dar is as much of a problem as his mother. Luckily there are one or two patrollers that Fawn met in ‘Beguilement’ who, while not openly accepting of their marriage, are not hostile to Fawn and so the couple settle down to married life with the threat of a council meeting hanging over their head to proclaim on the validity of the marriage.
Dag shows his mettle, grows in talents and in saving others manages to get himself into malice trouble again and only with Fawn’s help does he get out of it, but despite proving herself over and over again, she’d never going to be able to make Yorkshire Puddings like Mother makes. Dag solves the problem in his own way which lead them nicely forward to the much anticipated third book in the series, ‘Passage.’
Everything I said about the first book in The Sharing Knife sequence stands here. Well-written, well-rounded characters and if the plot is less than action-packed, the dramatic tension remains high. We learn more about Dag, his first marriage, and some of the reasons why he never followed through and became a captain, despite that being his obvious destiny in his younger days and one of his obvious talents. The fact that he cares so much about others is one of the appealing things about him. Dag doesn’t – in any way – consider himself above farmers. Dag and Fawn are an engaging couple deliberately mismatched for extra interest and cultural misunderstandings.
If you’re looking for the kind of pace Miles Vorkosigan keeps up, you may need to look elsewhere, but this series is on a par with Bujold’s Chalion novels for character and interest. Her writing never disappoints, whatever the style.