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The Spirit Ring

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  2,124 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Fiametta Beneforte dreamed of making beautiful and enchanted "objets d'art, " but alas her magician-goldsmith father was more likely to have her scrub the kiln than study magic. After all, it was a waste to train a mere daughter beyond the needs of the moment.Thur Ochs dreamed of escaping the icy mines of Bruinwald. But the letter from his brother Uri arranging his apprent ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Baen Books (first published 1992)
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Lisa (Harmonybites)
I feel this book a bit underated. May not be the kind of book I'd like to reread, but it's imaginative and well done. I think it suffers from comparisons with Bujold's other books. I don't agree with those who say this is her worst book, although it comes early among her works and I think Bujold's one of those authors that got stronger over the years. Nevertheless, I like this more than say Ethan of Athos or Falling Free in her Vorkosigan series or The Hallowed Hunt in her Chalion series. But it ...more

Overall, Lois McMaster Bujold is one of my favorite authors, & whose books I have no hesitation buying in hardback the day they come out. She is talented and her books are uniformly superb.

With this one exception.

In fairness, this was her first fantasy novel, and I don't think she had a full handle on the genre yet. The bulk of her work was Science Fiction in her early years, and has been mostly Fantasy the last 7 or 8 years.

This was a perfectly solid one-off fantasy/alternative history set in early renaissance Italy. A little bit of a disappointment coming from Lois McMaster Bujold from whom I somewhat unfairly expect perfection;)

It sets up a decently imaginative world, featuring artisans that create art but also imbue their art with useful magic such as an ornate saltcellar that will purify poisoned food or drink. The semi-historical setting gave the story context but I don't know that it added a whole lot. It fe
This is vintage Bujold, 1992, a rare standalone published between ‘The Vor Game’ (1990) and Mirror Dance’ (1994) though in many way it feels like a much earlier work. It’s a straightforward fantasy set in a Renaissance Italy where licensed mages work white magic with the blessings (and supervision) of the church, but where the Inquisition still looms to seek out black magic. Fiametta is the daughter of master mage and metal artisan, Master Beneforte. Her barely remembered mother – about whom the ...more
Michael Battaglia
I was all set to treat this as you would any consistently entertaining, young adult type fantasy novel, until you get to the scene that would probably win the category (and be the only nominee) for Best Use of Stillbirth in a Fantasy Setting. I sure as heck didn't see THAT coming.

Lois Bujold gets tons of raves from the SF community (she's certainly won quite the handful of awards) and for some reason I've only read one of her Vorkosigan books, something I'll probably rectify soon. This, on the o
I admit it: I probably would have rated this book a star or so higher if I hadn't gone into it with such high expectations. I adore Bujold's Vorkosigan series, and I was expecting to really like this. But... eh. It never captured me, and while I grew to appreciate the world she created, it never excited or intrigued me. I fully predicted a handful of the major plot points.

The plot is original, and while the characters never spring to life, they aren't obnoxious. In the end, though, I just didn't
This is standard genre fantasy rooted in alchemy and a magical version of the Italian Renaissance. In her attempt to avenge her murdered father, Fiametta Beneforte is armed only with the ability to breathe fire and a ring that will only fit her destined husband's hand. In his attempt to avenge his murdered brother, Thur Ochs has only his mining background and an affectionate relationship with rock kobolds to draw upon. They inevitably team up, and wacky hijinks -- ghosts, golems, demons, metallu ...more
I'm giving this book three stars instead of two because of the last scene, in which a thinly-veiled version of Cellini's Perseus sculpture comes to life and goes on a rampage, knocking people around with the Medusa's head stuck to its hand. Fabulous! While I appreciate the idea of an art-history-based fantasy novel, the world-building was too literal (relying on the reader's basic knowledge of Florentine historical figures and artworks rather than imagining new ones) and yet left out the really ...more
Lois McMaster Bujold, palabras mayores. En este caso pasa un tanto (bastante) como con el anterior: novela de fantasía de ambientación histórica, de esas repletas de personajes entrañables y memorables, con la particularidad de que en este caso el trasfondo histórico es mucho más realista (con claras referencias a la Italia de los Borgia y los condotieri) y los personajes tienen también un regusto a cuento en su concepción.

Una historia en la que la magia da un giro a las más o menos habituales i
Jen McConnel

Set in Renaissance Italy, this novel is an elegant combination of Machiavellian politics and church-sanctioned magic. White magic is monitored by the church officials, and is an accepted part of every day life, even for people who do not have any magical ability. Fiametta Benneforte is the daughter of a master mage and goldsmith. In secret, she has been teaching herself magic, but when her father is murdered and their city falls victim to black magic, Fiametta must choose between lawful magic an
This is by no means a bad book, but it's also not a great book. It's arguably Bujold's worst book. It's a little clichéd and generic - especially the "true love" aspects. Even her Sharing Knife series which personally I hated is technically better - I just couldn't stand the naive heroine. Yet, I can't help but wonder if I'm holding this book to an unfair standard - expecting it to measure up to the Chalion novels even though I'd been warned in advance that it doesn't compare.

I'd read an interv
Crystal Reynolds
I loved the vorkosigan novels, but this is something altogether different. A girl whose father is a goldsmith and enchanter is plunged into a a battle with evil forces to save her town, her father's soul and her true love. There is just the right amount of humor balanced with grittiness, and a satisfyingly climatic ending.
This is a solid and workmanlike piece of fantasy, which suffers mainly in comparison to Bujold's other works. Bujold usually builds clever and original worlds: this story is set in a medieval Italy where the catholic church regulates all magic. i think I've read that one before. Bujold excels at bitter, wounded, world weary protagonists (Miles, Cordelia, Ekatrin, Ista, etc.). These two are mere innocents, and the books consequently lacks the quirky charm which is her trademark. it also suffers f ...more
Probably more like 2.5 stars. I've enjoyed some of Bujold's other fantasy and sci-fi novels but this one seemed a bit dated for me. Maybe it just reminds me of books I read when I was younger. Also having a young female protagonist made it feel more like it was for teen girls than 43 year-old men.I also tend to like fantasy better if it's NOT set in the "real world" it makes the magic and other fantastic elements more believable for some reason.

I like the ending climactic battle, but got bored

I'm a huge fan of Bujold but I found this novel cumbersome, slow and of little interest. The characters also felt tired and cliched. I ended up discarding it half-way through. The Curse of Chalion (out of her fantasy work) is a far better read.
Magic, white or black, makes for good reading enjoyment. While I would never get bogged down by Harry Potter, books like the one under review now are okay.
The story is set in Italy of 1300s, presumably. The two main characters are teenagers. With personal effort and persistence they free the fiefdom they live in from occupation by a black magician. They too use a little magic, but strictly the white kind, allowed by church.
Children and teenagers will find this book enchanting. Even older people
Another great read from my favorite author! I love how magic is put into this world, and the interaction of magic and the church. There's also all the adventure, sword fights, and romance one might look for in a story.
Melody Harmon
I read this book a while ago. I honestly don't remember much of it. However, I keep being reminded by it so I know I enjoyed it. I will be reading this again. I highly recommend it.
This is the tale of Fiametta, a young sorceress, discovering her own powers and personal struggles to remain on the good side in a battle between good (white magic) and evil (black magic). There are also gender and class themes that are prevalent as well as a racial theme that is alluded to but remains largely unexplored.It is based upon a centuries old folktale, an autobiography (Benvenuto Cellini) and a treatise on mining and metallurgy (thank you to the author for sharing the origins and insp ...more
3.5 stars.
A historical fantasy set in Renaissance Italy with necromancy, kobolds, and metal-working. Includes a sweet romance. Very action-packed and a good creative plot, but the tone is more muted than in her other books. Enjoyable and well worth your time....

Btw, it helped me to have some knowledge of Renaissance art. That way I was able to picture the salt-cellar (google Cellini, saltcellar), and the statue to be cast (google Cellini, Perseus & Medusa), and even Fiametta's hairstyle and
A nice precursor to Ms. Bujold's later fantasy work, but the storyline didn't grip me quite as much, nor did the characters. It's not to say they're bad, there were still some good Bujold moments in the book and I'm happy to have read it, but in comparison to her other brilliant work, The Spirit Ring couldn't rise to that level of greatness. The afterward is interesting, to see that some of the names were drawn from actual history, and perhaps that's what held this book into the author not takin ...more
This is one of Bujold's earlier works, and it shows - the pacing is a little scattershot and the narrative is a touch rough around the edges. Still, it contains her trademark excellent characterization, set in a world (Magical Italian Renaissance!) that'll be catnip to any art history enthusiast. I also appreciated the questions of magical ethics it addressed, even if they did feel secondary to the plot. And the climax was the first I've come across since Jim Butcher's Dead Beat that made me che ...more
I enjoyed this read, the strong heroine, the magic, and Bujold's other characters.
Historical fantasy (16th century Italy). If you like Mercedes Lackey's elemental masters series, you will probably like this book.

I found this book while trying to read more about Benvenuto Cellini after reading his autobiography. Some but not all of the book draws from Cellini, including the gold saltcellar and the statue of Perseus. The main character is a fictional daughter of a character somewhat based on Cellini. So while this book was a typical fantasy, I very much enjoyed that I was able
Having read Curse of Chalion and its sequels before Spirit Ring, I found it most striking for the ideas later fleshed out in the Five Gods Universe. The setting, fantasy-medieval pseudo-Italy, irritated me at first--I normally prefer my fantasy and my history well-separated--but it provides a fully-built world with a minimum of work. As with the Five Gods novels, the romance is both a bit strained and a bit obvious. A fantasy novel worth reading, although not up to the spectacular level of most ...more
Jan 25, 2011 June rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fantasy & romance readers
Fiametta is a strong female character dealing with medieval(?) prejudices. Bujold claims 3 sources for this story. 1) Folktales of heroes who come across unburied bodies, due to their debts, who pay the debts and bury the bodies, then are helped in their future adventures by said ghost. 2) Kobolds, and a self-effacing Swiss miner from a 16th century Latin treatise on mining translated by Hoover. 3) Golden saltcellar, bronze Perseus, mad castellan, wonderful and egotistical Cellini in the Autobio ...more
I have wanted to read this book for years now, but it was always out of print. I finally managed to get hold of a copy and I'm wuite satisfied.
It's one of Bujold's earlier books, a stand alone. While it does not feature some of my favourite characters, it already shows her talent and skill in writing. I liked the renaissance setting and the strength of the main charachters (fiery and flamboyant for Fiammetta, calmed but solid for Thur).
Though I much prefer the setting of the Chalionverse, it is
I've been saving this book, because it's Bujold, so I knew it would be good. I liked it, but I didn't love it. It was enjoyable enough to read, solid one-off fantasy, but not what I've come to expect from Bujold. I did really enjoy how she handled the church in this story though. It wasn't preachy, but it didn't vilify the church either. All the clergymen were good guys - actually good, not just convinced they were good. Refreshing.
Pratik Patel
In her usual style, bujold delivers another historical frought with spirits. it is clear that She is learning her craft in these historicals though. There are some moments when the characters appear to be flat. But the action is fast-faced. Her research is impecable. The world she draws is, other than the magic with which she endows her characters, very near to the Renaissance Italy that existed. Her other historicals are much better.
Sadly, this adventure by LMB into fantasy didn't go anywhere and this book reads like a sequel was planned but never appeared. I can understand that. The main character is compelling, but the rest don't do anything for me and the book seems to lack a purpose. Everyone stumbles around with random magic events and not much to show for it.

But do go read the Miles Vorkosigan books! Those are worth reading! Over and over...
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Lois McMaster Bujold was born in 1949, the daughter of an engineering professor at Ohio State University, from whom she picked up her early interest in science fiction. She now lives in Minneapolis, and has two grown children.

Her fantasy from HarperCollins includes the award-winning Chalion series and the Sharing Knife tetralogy; her science fiction from Baen Books features the perennially bestse
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