For those of you who read my review of the first book, the Sharing Knife; Beguilement, you already have a vague idea of the story. If you don’t go read that review first.
The scond installment, The Sharing Knife; Legacy, picks up where the last one left off, with Fawn Bluefield and her new sorcerous husband of a mere two hours, Dag Redwing Hickory, leaving their wedding party in Fawn’s West Blue Farm for Dag’s Lakewalker camp. After a chapter that details the wedding night, they arrive.
There is a certain sense of disappointment in the description of the camp: because of Lakewalker groundsense and strange abilities, you get the empression that they are extremely advance people, who have technology and social sophistications in a much higher standing than that of farmers (non-lakewalkers). However, the Lakewalkers are so bent on destroying malices, that their culture is decidely backwards. They live in semi-permanent housing structures that resemble half-finished cabins they refer to as “tents”, their food supply is limited to farm stock and a strange water vegetable called a “plunkin,” which they eat at almost every meal, and their social structure is little more than captain and soldier, with very little else inbetween. The only economic practice that seems at all advanced is a system of currency known as “camp credit” which is very much like a camp bank; doing a good dead, selling, or trading will earn you a horse or gear or some other personal necessity, which is stored in a goods shed until needed or lent out for other patrollers to use.
Fawn is presented around the camp and gets mixed reactions, which range from awkward to insulting. Lakewalkers tend to view farmers as an inferior race, so for Dag to have married one, in lakewalker perception, it was much like he had married a goat. With the exception to a few Lakewalkers who had met Fawn in the previous book, the Lakewalker Camp Captain, and a few other displeased but friendly relatives, every person in camp regards Fawn extremely negatively. Dags own mother and brother are the most opposed and distressed by the pairing, feeling as though Dag, who is a brilliant soldier and could have been a company lieutenant, even without his left hand, had thrown his entire life and patrol career away on “some farmer whore.” Dags brother and mother decide that if Dag does not divorce Fawn, they will petition the camp leaders to either force him to, or banish him from camp, which is something like a death sentence to Lakewalkers.
Dag spends the next few months trying to get the people of his camp used to the idea of his pretty farmer bride, the easiest of which is one of his cousins, who has two husbands at the same time in the same tent (both of which we met in the first book), which is something not done in Lakewalker society either. Dag figures if they got used to that, they could get used to Fawn. At the same time, he begins to wonder about the groundsense in his left hand that got stirred up while his right arm was broken, something which he should not have had, considering there was no hand to pull ground (or spirit, in the simplest terms) from.
Before a counsel on the matter of the marriage could come to a head, a malice outbreak north draws focus away from the odd couple. Dag is called upon to lead a patrol out to the outbreak and find a way to get back alive. He had spent twenty years after the loss of his hand trying to get himself killed on patrol, but now that he had something to live for, namely Fawn, leaving her within the camp without knowing whether he would return was much harder on him that it was on her, though neither were much pleased about it.
The malice defeat doesn’t actually take very long at all, but after the malice is taken down, Dag become infected with the malices “blight”, a sickness that drains the life, or ground, from living things, and falls into a coma-like state known as a groundlock with six or seven other lakewalkers and farmers who are also afflicted with this sickness. Fawn, sensing trouble, leaves the camp and follows him. Realizing that the blight was actually bits of the malice, and knowing that only sharing knives can kill malices, she used her own sharing knife primed with the death of her unborn daughter and stabs Dag in order to kill the blight marking his body and revive him.
When they finally arrive back at camp, Fawn and Dag, who is still convalescing from the sickness and stab wound, are called to a counsel. Dag relays to the councel before they can vote that he has decided to retire from the patrol and leave camp with Fawn, which served two purposes: to settle the argument without actually having the counsel banish him, and to fix a growing problem he had noticed among both farmer and Lakewalker. Their unwillingness to interact with each other is allowing malices to grow unchecked, (like the one they defeated, who had killed several hundred people, farmer and lakewalker alike,) and if they continued to put their differences before their need to co-exist, eventually a malice would spring up that would destroy the world. He also promises that he will travel, and show Fawn the sea.
I was a little disappointed in this book than the first, mainly because of it’s pace. It was really slow to get started, and really slow to end. It did have is good moments and the new characters introduced made the story more enjoyable to read, but the overall theme of it was extremely depressing. I was sorry when the book ended, but not in a good way. I expect more from the next book. A lot more.