|About the Book|
Note: I believe I am the only person on the face of the earth who hated this book. If you liked it, this review will annoy you. Also, be advised that there will be spoilers for what we might loosely term the plot in what follows.This book suffers from three main problems:1. A fascinating world that gets built in the first few pages and then utterly abandoned in favor of2. An amazingly unengaging, unbelievable romance between a typical Bujold guy and3.Mary SueThe thing is, this is actually a solid fantasy world- it had the potential to be as interesting as the one Bujold created in The Curse of Chalion, and maybe in future books it will be. But here, the world gets shunted aside so that 85% of the book can be about the Great Romance. Which is not all that great, in my opinion, or even tolerable.Look. I love romance FF. But Im not a good romance reader- I tend to choke on emotion, and an author has to be good to get me seriously invested in a relationship. But. But. Even if I loved romances, I think Id choke on this one.Our heroine, Fawn, a hideously naive and very young farmgirl, meets and falls (intensely, world-endingly, OMG GREATEST PASSION OF ALL TIME) in love with the hero during a week in which she: is jilted, leaves home and everything she has ever known, is violently abducted, is nearly raped, and is made to miscarry by a creature shed believed was just a myth. Among, you know, other notable events. Most people would be too distracted by these events to breathe, never mind fall in love.And our hero, Dag - intelligent, highly talented, much older and more knowledgeable and talented than Fawn, with a Tragic Past and a Great Lost Love - meets and falls in love with Fawn despite a) having steadfastly refused all romance since the Great Lost Love, b) being emotionally distant and embittered, c) having absolutely nothing in common with Fawn, and d) being old enough and smart enough to know better. For a person like Dag to fall in love - well, I could buy it, but it would have to take months or years, not days. Thered need to be some build, is my point, and not just a shortcut to heat coiling in his belly at her touch.And Fawn - shes adorable, cheerful, industrious, sweet, resilient, essentially flawless, and utterly uninteresting. In other words: hello, Mary Sue! I think I first suspected that she was a Mary Sue when, in the first couple of pages, I was told that she has long, lovely, bouncing curls even though she has been living rough. I have curly hair. Trust me when I tell you that after a few nights of sleeping in haystacks and a few days of hard travel, it would be a giant matted mess attractive only to birds seeking a nesting spot. Only Mary Sues have hair that stays gorgeous under such circumstances. But, look, Im not just judging her on the hair. Fawn has so many other traits (Industry despite major illness! Open-mindedness despite being raised in an utterly closed-minded culture! Cheerful acceptance of everything! Adored by all who meet her!) that make her Mary Sue that Im saddened that Bujold, who has created fabulous characters, wrote her.This book does display Bujolds very competent writing. And I have a vague, distant hope that a future volume of the series will explain the weird romance - maybe its unnatural or magical in origin? But, basically, reading this, I found myself wishing Bujold would just write some terrible AU Spock/original female character and post it on fanfiction.net so she could get this out of her system.If you can buy into the romance, youll love this book. If you cant, youll want to stab something while you read this, because the romance is all this book is. I cant, in good conscience, recommend this for anyone, but I will say that many people seem to love it. Just - oh my god, so very much not for me.