I really had high hopes for Beguilement, which is the first volume of a series called The Sharing Knife. My hopes were high not so much because I had heard anything about this book, but because I wanted it to be good. I wanted to get involved in another fantasy series. Alas, wanting isn't enough. This is just average, and certainly not compelling enough to make me go on and read the rest of the series.
Lois McMaster Bujold is the author of the very popular science fiction/fantasy series about Miles Vorkosigan. I tried to read these, but they were too hard science fiction for me, what with their spaceships and wormholes and such.
The world of The Sharing Knife is interesting: something like rural 19th Century Europe or North America, but with bad monsters called Malices who must be hunted and killed by roving bands of men and women called Lakewalkers. I was especially intrigued by the creatures called Mud Men, who are kind of like the golems of Eastern European lore, built by the Malices out of animals and mud, to do their evil bidding. But for some reason McMaster lets these plot points fizzle out and spends way too much time on a romance between Dag, an older, disillusioned Lakewalker man, and Fawn, a young non-Lakewalker woman.
The age difference between these two is kind of off-putting, and Fawn is just silly, even though she is brave. The action picks up again somewhat toward the end, but it was clear that a lot of this series was going to be about Dag and Fawn's evolving relationship and not so much about the Malices and the Mud Men. That discovery disappointed me. If I want a relationship novel I can find plenty to choose from; but really cool constructs like the Mud Men are few and far between.