New book by Bujold

Teresa Edgerton

Goblin Princess
Staff member
Nov 1, 2004
I know we don't get much discussion of Lois McMaster Bujold around here -- although her books are so popular and win so many awards, somebody is obviously reading them.

Anyway (and in case anyone else is interested) I was excited to read in the EOS newsletter that her newest fantasy novel is out next month. I don't know much about this new book, but if it's as good as the Chalion books, I anticipate great pleasure in reading it.

Here's the description from the HarperCollins website:

Young Fawn Bluefield has fled her family's farm hoping to find work in the city of Glassforge. Uncertain about her future and the troubles she carries, Fawn stops for a drink of water at a roadside inn, where she encounters a patrol of Lakewalkers, enigmatic soldier-sorcerers from the woodland culture to the north. Fawn knows the stories about the Lake-walkers: they are necromancers; they practice black sorcery; they have no permanent homes and own only the clothes they wear and the weapons—mysterious knives made of human bone—they carry. What she does not know is that the Lakewalkers, as a whole, are engaged in a perilous campaign against inhuman and immortal magical entities known as “malices,” creatures that suck the life out of all they encounter, and turn men and animals into their minions.

Dag is an older Lakewalker patroller who carries his past sorrows as heavily as his present responsibilities. When Fawn is kidnapped by the malice Dag's patrol is tracking, Dag races to rescue her. But in the ensuing struggle, it is not Dag but Fawn who kills the creature—at dire cost—and an uncanny accident befalls Dag's sharing knife, which unexpectedly binds their two fates together.

And so now the misenchanted knife must be returned to the Lakewalkers. Together, Fawn and Dag set out on the long road back to his camp. But on the journey this unlikely pair will encounter danger and delight, prejudice and partnership, and maybe even love. . . .

OK, so it doesn't sound entirely original, but Bujold knows how to engage reader sympathy and write a page-turning story, and I'm a sucker for enigmatic soldier-sorcerers. Also for heroes with a tragic past.
Oh, that does sound good, Teresa! Especially the "maybe love" part, and, as you say, the hero with a troubled past.

I always enjoy Bujold's novels and am glad to hear that another will be out soon.
Now here's an author I've heard much about but have never gotten around to trying. As someone who has obviously enjoyed her books, maybe you can tell me what type of novels she writes and with which one should a newbie begin?
Over the years she's been mostly known for her science fiction -- I only attempted reading one of her Miles Vorkosigan books, and it didn't engage me, but they are very, very popular. She wrote one fantasy years ago, The Spirit Ring, and that one didn't pull me in either.

But a few years ago the Chalion books started coming out. I picked one up (for free) at an EOS party at ConJose, not expecting much -- and I was sucked right into the story. I liked the second and third books in that series, too. (Not really a trilogy, because while the first two books have several of the same characters the stories are self-contained, and the third book merely makes use of the same world and mythology.) I don't know if you could call the series epic fantasy, because the individual books don't have that sort of panoramic world view, or that sort of scope. (Together they do sort of add up, but still ...) They're a mixture of adventure, court intrigue, and romance. With plenty of magic, and an interesting religion that plays a very large role. A bit of swashbuckling, too. A few of the characters could have stepped right out of Dumas. The setting seems to be vaguely 16th-17th centuryish, and one gets glimpses of a Franco/Spanish influence.

You could read the third book, The Hallowed Hunt first if it came your way, because it's even more stand-alone than the others. (My husband read that one first, even though the others were right here in the house. Why? I don't know. Anyway, he liked it fine without having first read the others.) The second, Paladin of Souls doesn't depend on the first book, but because of the shared characters and the related storylines I wouldn't recommend that you start there, as you would probably enjoy it more after reading The Curse of Chalion. Which, when it comes down to it is the one I would most recommend. The first, and for me the best, although the others were far from a let-down.
I am a huge fan of hers, so I am thrilled to learn of a new book. I have to say that the Vorkosigan books are my FAVORITE science fiction books of all time, and I've been an avid reader of SF&F for close to 40 years. Her other books have been good, although not AS good.

More Miles, please, Lois!
Well I've read the Chalion books and liked them very much Teresa, so I'm someone who's a fan at least. You're right though, not a lot of chat going on here, so perhaps an author whose gone under the radar a little?

I've always found Bujold's prose to be both intelligent and engaging.

Naturally I'll be looking for this book when it comes out.

A quick check on Google has confirmed the title is Beguilment, Book 1 of the The Sharing Knife duology, described as a "romantic fantasy".
Thanks for the heads up I'll keep an eye out for that. gotta love Miles though.
My favorite Vorkosigan book would have to be A Civil Campaign, bring on the butterbugs.
Thank you for the information Teresa. I'd read and very much liked the Chalion books though I read the third first and then got the first two and read again in order. The Hallowed Hunt does stand very well on it's own.

I'm very much looking forward to this new book.
dwndrgn said:
Now here's an author I've heard much about but have never gotten around to trying. As someone who has obviously enjoyed her books, maybe you can tell me what type of novels she writes and with which one should a newbie begin?

Her most popular series is the "Vorkoskigan Saga" a series of a dozen-or-so mostly stand-alone space operas set many years in the future. In that universe humanity has colonised a number of star systems with a number of differing cultures arising on different planets. The action is centered around the planet of Barrayar, a colony world that was cut off from the rest of humanity for several centuries, descending into a feudal semi-medieval world before being rediscovered and brutally invaded by the Cetagandan Empire. The books are set a few decades after the Barrayans chased off the invading Cetagandans and have spent the intervening years slowly modernising their world and society. The main character in most of the books is Miles Vorkoskigan, a young man who is the son of one of the most important noble on Barrayar but finds himself the target of prejudice from many of his countrymen because of genetic deformities caused by a failed assaination attempt on his parents when his mother was pregnant with him. Miles has ambitions to join the military despite a long list of physical weaknesses, his attempts at that are a bit of disaster but he ends up working for the Barrayan Imperial Intelligence (and commanding a small mercenary fleet in disguise as a mercenary commander) because he is extremely cunning, devious and willing to try any plan no matter how far-fetched.

The series is extremely entertaining and often quite amusing and Bujold does excellent characterisation. Her future is also plausible and well-portrayed (although a few of the plots can bit a bit unlikely). There are two possible books to start with, either "Shards of Honour" (one of two books to feature Miles' mother Cordelia, the second being the excellent "Barrayar") or "Warrior's Apprentice", technically the third book in the series but the first to feature Miles. Neither of those two is the best book in the series, but they are the logical places to start.

I also read "Curse of Chalion", it is a good epic fantasy, again with some excellent characterisation.
Now here is an author I haven't heard of but I think the Chalion books and her new novel might suit my reading tastes Teresa. Especially if her characterisations are so good. The enigmatic soldier sounds interesting, more so if he is also a sorcerer!
Dwndrgn, if you're in the mood for fantasy, I second Teresa's recommendation that you start with The Hallowed Hunt.

If you're in the mood for science fiction, I second Williamjm's recommendation of Shards of Honor--simply because, as he says, it's where things begin in the Vorkosigan saga (even though Miles isn't in the story).

Like Baldur, I also love A Civil Campaign. but I wouldn't recommend it as a place to start, because it has more emotional impact if you've read the previous Miles books. For a similar reason, I wouldn't recommend starting with Mirror Dance or Memory, which are both high on my list of beloved Vorkosigan novels.
yeah Memory is where I started the series but then I like being droped into the middle of an ongoing story and having to scramble to keep up.
I will cheerfully buy anything she writes. I bought one of her "Miles" compilations for one story (had read and still owned the rest of them), and while "Spirit ring" didn't stick in my mind (I can't offhand remember which Shakespeare play it's rewritten from) I will get this one, on trust, as soon as I can find it in mass market paperback.
it's a bit hard to claim she's a writer who's slipped "under the radar," considering she's won 3 Nebulas and 5 Hugos. (If I'm counting correctly). All her earlier books have been repackaged into compilations, which makes it confusing for me, but you really can't go wrong.

The free ebook that was mentioned above is "The Mountains of Mourning," a novella which won Ms. Bujold both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and is an excellent place to start.

I love A Civil Campaign--I think I've read that damn thing 20 times, and it's a fairly new book!

More Miles!

Oh. I said that already. :)
I think he probably meant "slip under the radar here." Which a lot of very popular and highly regarded authors do.

Some people do labor under the misconception that just because their friends and online acquaintances don't talk about a certain writer, that writer is therefore obscure (either horribly under-rated, virtually unknown, or both). But Gollum is not prone to fall into that error.

Obviously, Bujold doesn't slip under the radar with her SFWA peers or the people who attend WorldCons, since she picks up so many nominations and awards.

I do think there are more popular writers, and writers who "impress" readers more, but Bujold writes books that are both intelligent and entertaining, and the way the ballots are set up she makes out like a bandit as a good consensus choice.
Bujold does seem to be relatively obscure here in Britain (at least compared to some of the more popular contemporary science fiction authors like Iain M Banks or Peter F Hamilton), it wasn't always that easy to find any of the Vorkoskigan books on sale in most bookshops here (although her fantasy tended to be more popular).
Now that it's out in paperback, I finally bought and read Beguilement. I was hesitant because there was an excerpt that I read online a while back and it didn't grab me, but I loved her previous fantasy series, and Brown Rat said that this book was very good, and so ...

And so I read it. And I did like it very much. Interesting world, sympathetic characters, original use of magic, and a nice love story. Rather like Shards of Honor, in that two people from very different cultures meet and make an instant connection -- and they act like real people falling in love, instead of book people falling in love.
I got "The Warrior's Apprentice" as a Christmas present from my boyfriend (boyfriend at the time, that is). Needless to say, he had no idea that he had started a life-long romance (only not of him and me, but of me and the books :D)
What fascinates me in The Vorkosigan saga is the main character. Miles is so eager to be worthy despite his deformity that he sometimes acts like a lunatic. On the other hand, if it weren't for his disease, he probably would've become a spoiled brat. His nobility is what protects him, but also what hurts him, because he has to live up to the standards of the Vor.
Also, through different adventures we can see his planet trying to overcome the patriarchal behaviour and accept fututistic society and technology.

In this book anyone can become a hero or make a collosal mistake and that's actually pretty cool.
I'm glad that you liked Beguilement, Teresa. I've just ordered the second in the series (Legacy), which just came out a few days ago.

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