Rebecca's Reviews > Passage

Passage by Lois McMaster Bujold
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's review
Jun 29, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, relationship-driven
Read in July, 2008

** spoiler alert ** Okay, so this is the third book in a four-book series (fourth isn't out yet). It's also fantasy romance -- to the point where people on the Bujold mailing list make a game of guessing whether reviewers are fantasy fen or romance fen by how the reviews read. And, I like it -- enough to have books 2 and 3 in hardcover.

So, I'm going to try not to spoil books 1 and 2 for this. The book has kind of a post-apocalyptic fantasy feel to it. Dag, Male Main Character, is a member of a group of people called Lakewalkers, who use their magic to kill monsters called malices that would otherwise suck dry all of the life force on the continent. (They are also descended from a group of mage-kings who used to run the area and caused the malices to come into being, so it's sort of an ancestral guilt thing.) Fawn, Female Main Character, is a Farmer (non-magic settler in the area) who, at the start of the book, is running away from home thanks to getting knocked up out of wedlock. Fawn happens to get kidnapped by a malice's goons, and Dag is present to help save her -- though Fawn is actually the one who delivers the final blow to the malice. Since this is a romance, they end up falling in love -- which creates problems, since Lakewalkers and Farmers don't trust each other, and barely interact. Dag's people are unhappy, Fawn's people are unhappy -- we have conflict (you know, besides the malices who will eat the world).

Now, this could turn predictable, but Bujold uses Dag and Fawn's romance to explore how the Lakewalkers and Farmer interact. And it isn't simple -- by Book 3, Dag and Fawn are out to find a way to bring their two cultures together, since the other two models (avoid each other, and have mages rule non-mages) don't seem to work. Dag also promised Fawn a trip to see the ocean, so they are heading down the river by boat. The geography is similar to the Great Lakes/Southeast US -- Bujold has a history of doing that with her fantasy -- so you can imagine the two of them heading down the Ohio/Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. By Book 3, Dag and Fawn are comfortable in their relationship -- which makes me squee.

Overall, this series does a bit better than the other series I'm reviewing. I could get a sense of both Dag and Fawn as characters and how their relationship grew. Also both of them had problems and brought things to the relationship -- both characters had family issues, Fawn had the twit of the guy who got her pregnant (who she had a crush on, but he was just interested in an easy lay), and Dag was a widower (his wife was killed by malices -- he also lost an arm in this). Having both characters POVs let me see the other from their eyes, which was nice. It also helped that both Dag and Fawn related to the other people on the boat -- Fawn's brother, Whit, the boat captain, a couple of stray Lakewalkers they picked up. A friend of mine commented that calling it a romance was overly simplistic -- it is a book about relationships, and not just Dag/Fawn.

So, yeah, I like this series, and can't wait to see how it concludes.

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