Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Readin': The Sharing Knife, Volume Three, Passage

Lois McMaster Bujold has continued her series well. Volume Three of her Sharing Knife series continues with the book Passage which I've just finished. Yes, yes, I know; I still haven't written about the other three or four books I've read before this. I'll get to it, I promise.

Anyways . . .

Passage picks up the story of Dag and Fawn just after they've left the Lakewalker camp and return to Fawn's family's farm. They spend a couple of weeks there and then set out for the river. Dag has promised to take Fawn down the river to the sea as a honeymoon of sorts. They do that and it forms the backbone of the story, but there are many interesting characters involved and lots of growing done by lots of folks.

I like the way Bujold writes. Her characters are deep and their troubles are real, human troubles, even if it is all written about in a totally fantasized world. Orson Scott Card once said that speculative fiction (his words) was the only place where authors could honestly write philosophical social commentary these days (or something to that effect). That comment put me in mind of the original Star Trek TV series, that did pretty much the same thing, cloaking the problems of the world in the guise of 'aliens' and then letting the stories play out.

Bujold writes of two cultures that coexist somewhat symbiotically, but are walled off from each other by suspicion, myth, and misunderstanding. Dag and Fawn, one from each culture, have been grudgingly accepted by her culture (though Dag ends up having to prove himself over and over), though not at all by his. Between the two of them, they see the necessity, as do some of Dag's contemporaries, for the two cultures to learn about and accept each other. It's a fascinating story and touches on the themes of cultural interpenetration in a way that is easier to bear because it it happening in an 'imaginery' world.

A good book and a good continuation of the series. Book Four, Horizon, is now out in hardcover (it came out last week), so I'll either have to get it from the library, or wait a year to read it in paperback. I can't see buying books like this in hardcover for the most part, they read so quickly that it seems a waste of money. My frugal nature wars with my desire to continue the story; I'm guessing my library card will get a workout one day soon.

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.