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The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold

Review by SS

The World
An alternate version of our medieval/renaissance world, where the geography and the religion (Christianity) are the same, only with magic added.

The Characters
Fiametta is the determined daughter of a master magician/metal-worker (Prospero Beneforte), fascinated by the magic which is forbidden to women. She is 13? 15? and her greatest dream is to meet her true love. Thur is the younger son of a mining family. He is slightly dopey, with a good heart, etc (think Simon in "Memory Sorrow and Thorn", Taran in the "Prydain Chronicles" etc).

The Plot
Enormous amounts of power can be harnessed by binding the spirit of an unshriven and unburied person to a ring by black magic. Fiametta and Thur must stop the evil usurper from achieving this act, which would allow him to take over the land.

This is the second Lois McMaster Bujold book I've, and there are very distinct elements to her style, namely her way of dealing with magic/the gods/supernatural. In some places, it's a bit spooky. It read quite easily, with the simple language contrasting with ideas which are quite dark sometimes. One thing which I found slighly irritating about her style is the way she attributes speech. A lot of the time, it feels like she uses unnecessary descriptions, and ocassionally she uses conflicting descriptions (as in "he snarled sarcastically." Maybe it's just me, but it feels wrong to have someone snarl sarcastically). However, this is a very minor detail (ok so I'm being picky *l*) and the book is good reading.

McMaster Bujold's characters and world, although enjoyable, are fairly standard. It's the ideas within the plot whih I liked best about this book.

3.5 out of 5 amulets.

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