Since I am not reading The Count of Monte Cristo for a while, I have returned to The Sharing Knife, which is a beautiful hardcover edition of volumes 1 and 2. I am currently reading the first book, Beguilement. The jury is still out on this book on what I think of it, but I am enjoying it so far. I am growing to like the author's writing style, and have found a few quotable moments within the pages. This book definitely skates along that line of what I want and don't want to read. For example, I am not much for reading books with deeply detailed intimate scenes, or things such as rape. So far, there has been an attempted rape, and the musings of lustful thoughts in a man that I could do without. However, I did not cast aside the book after the rape scene, simply because Lois McMaster Bujold handled it well in my mind, and her hero rescued the female character before it actually took place. It was literally moments away from occurring. So I've read on. The lustful thinking was not too terrible, and the character shook them off and continued on with his day before author got too detailed for my liking. I am not yet sure if these choices are done so purposely, to keep the book from that place, or if it is just the start of much more to come. If the author stays skating on the line, it may turn out to be a book I will thoroughly enjoy...if she skates over that line, I probably will be rethinking this series. This is definitely not a book for a younger audience though.
The fantasy part of this book is pretty heavy. The creatures in the book that pose all the danger are quite tough to grasp, though I think that is in part the author's intention. She "explains" things several times, but very briefly, lightly, and in a way that leaves you just confused. Eventually there is a moment (too far into the book) where the creatures are properly explained to a point that I was finally understanding what was going on to the extent that I prefer in a novel. I can see the authors reasons, but I was not a huge fan of it. Anyways... once the author does reveal the information in a proper manner, I actually love what is going on and find it super creative.
I don't mean to be too critical, as it really is an interesting story with some interesting characters. I did discover a beautiful quote last night that I was shocked to find within this book. It occurs when Dag is trying to comfort Fawn who has been traumatized and is pretty much breaking down crying:
"Think of something beautifully useless."
Her face came up, and she sniffed in confusion. "What?"
"There are a lot of senseless things in the world, but not all of them are sorrows. Sometimes- I find- it helps to remember the other kind. Everybody knows some light, even if they forget when they're down in the dark. Something"- he groped for a term that would work for her- "everyone else thinks is stupid, but you know is wonderful."
She lay still against him for a long time, and he started to muster another explanation, or perhaps abandon the attempt as, well, stupid, but then she said, "Milkweed."
I almost cried while reading this in the book. Wow! This is exactly what I have come to understand in my own life as well when I find myself deeply despaired, or in a depressed phase. I have even given this advice to others that have come to me when they feel the same. Sometimes you just need to stop and think about something that you love in that moment, no matter how stupid it is. Find something to do that keeps your mind occupied, no matter how silly it is or how lame it feels. Throw yourself into it. It will save you while you find your way out of the darkness. For me, I did listen to My Antonia by Willa Cather as I tried to fall asleep every night. That helped me keep my mind from my grief at night, but then I still had the days, when I couldn't just pop in ear buds and ignore the rest of the world, sinking into my own. To keep my mind in a more peaceful state during the days of depression, I spent a lot of time flipping through gardening catalogues and dreaming about what kind of a garden I would create if I was living somewhere that I could. I loved flipping through the different flowers, grasses, bushes, plants, and simply marveling at their beauty. Mother Earth is a strong hand when you need one. My mind was in a place that I could do nothing else that I loved, but looking through those catalogues did save me in my days, just as My Antonia saved me in my nights. Stupid? Probably so, giving gardening magazines so much of my time when I don't really have anywhere to have my own garden; reading such a small book for months, struggling to focus on every word. But what Dag says in this quote is true, it does help. And milkweed as an answer is just awesome!