Sharing Knife

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Name: The Sharing Knife series
Abbreviation(s): TSK, WGW
Creator: Lois McMaster Bujold
Date(s): 2006–2009
Medium: novels
Country of Origin: USA
External Links: The Sharing Knife @Wikipedia
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The Sharing Knife series is a nominally fantasy series by Lois McMaster Bujold, set in a post-apocalyptic world, sometimes referred to as the 'Wide Green World', which is a fictionalised version of pre-industrial America. It has a small rarelit fandom.

Canon

There are four novels, which were conceived as a two works that were split for publication:

  • Sharing Knife: Beguilement (2006)
  • Sharing Knife: Legacy (2007)
  • Sharing Knife: Passage (2008)
  • Sharing Knife: Horizon (2009)

The major characters in the first two novels are Dag Redwing & Fawn Bluefield. Dag is an embittered widower in his fifties from the Lakewalker culture, which resembles a cross between Native Americans & J.R.R. Tolkien's Rangers. He is traumatised by the loss of his wife in battle, as well as being disabled by the loss of his hand. Fawn is a teenager from the Farmer culture, who at the series' opening is pregnant by a man she despises. They share a cross-cultural, cross-generational romance, which results in their exile from both cultures. Espresso Addict describes Beguilement as reading a lot like a cross between Aragorn & Legolas with a hobbit Mary-Sue.[1]

The cast expands in the later novels, with Dag's mentor Arkady Waterbirch, Dag's niece Sumac Redwing, Fawn's brother Whit and boat captain Berry Clearcreek being among the more popular characters.

Fannish Opinion

I love the way it's constantly in dialogue with LotR - in fact, in a lot of ways, it's a critique of and an American answer to LotR, and it really works as that. LMB takes a lot of epic fantasy conventions and turns them on their heads. There is a fantasy journey, but it's not a traditional quest, no There and Back Again, no fixed goal beyond 'let's see what happens'. There's no set-piece battle, no Great Last Stand, no War to End All Wars, just a never-ending slog to kill one malice (devouring evil spirit thingy) after another after another, and you can't ever slip up or the world will end. Our hero, Dag is as close to being a Ranger as makes no difference, and Fawn, the heroine, is the most hobbity of hobbits. (Also look out for Berry, the River's Daughter, a Knife in the Dark and terrible wraiths with wings--there are little Tolkien-echoes everywhere) (Philomytha)[2]
The tensions between Lakewalkers and Farmers is reminiscent of the early culture clashes between settlers and Native Americans. In these books the romance takes front and center more than in any other Bujold. Dag is a Lakewalker, member of a nomadic, magician-warrior clan. Fawn is a farmer girl who ran away from home and right into Dag. There is a wide age gap standing between the two, but more than that, a deep-seated bigotry from both their kin that Lakewalkers and farmers do not marry. The whole world is telling Dag and Fawn they can’t be together, but the two of them forge their own way by holding strong to each other. ...

Fawn is innocent, painfully young, but steadily learning more about the Wide Green World as the series progresses. In the first book she begins naive, but with her voracious curiosity she grows towards full womanhood. She’s got the patented Bujold bravery and a lively sense of humor. The most appealing thing I find, though, is her unquenchable joy for life. ...

Dag is awesome. He begins world-weary and welcoming his death (consequence of a shattering loss in his early adult life) and then meets Fawn. She saves him, rekindling the old hunger for life and love. He defies his family and his whole society to stay by her. He acquires a philanthropic bent once he’s met Fawn, a desire to heal the world, unite the two peoples and he sets about doing it, even if it can feel like casting stones in the ocean. I particularly love how well Bujold depicts Dag’s reactions to various complications that arise. They are always multi-layered and real. And I love the way he loves Fawn. (Elizabeth)[3]
...[R]eading The Sharing Knife involves triangulating its relations with The Lord of the Rings. And there are many correspondences embodying critiques to find – the river-journeys, the shift of the Nazgûl from horses to flying steeds and the contrast of walking and flying malices, even the special blade-turning garments that Frodo and Sumac each inherit from an uncle, but for today I suggest the critique centres on remodelling five great tropes constellated in Tolkien – the magic sword, the chosen people, the circular journey, the dark lord, and the eucatastrophe... (Bracketyjack)[4]
...[A]s an American the setting speaks to me on a visceral level in the way that traditional, European-based settings don't. It lends a easing into it for me - it's clearly resonant with my cultural values at many points. It's also very regionally cultural - I'm from a different region of United States, which makes this culturally dissonant with me at times a total outsider probably wouldn't pick up on. The strong geography is key here. (Chromatographic)[2]
The world building of the Lakewalker culture is the main draw, and particularly its intriguingly lightly sketched pre-history. ... I'm interested in expansion of the pre-apocalyptic civilisation referred to as 'sorcerer-lords', how the original malice came into being, what its nature is, how it was dispersed, how sharing death was invented, what happened to the 'absent gods'. I consider the novels to be post-apocalyptic science fiction... (Firerose)[5]

Fandom

See also Timeline of Bujold Fandom

Some fans like the novels for the cute love stories, others enjoy the complex critique of Tolkien and derivative fantasy (and others like both). Sharing Knife fandom is small and largely exists within the umbrella of the general Bujold fandom; most fans were fans of other Bujold universes first. The series is covered by the general Bujold livejournal communities – lmbujold, Lois McMaster Bujold Fanfic Community or bujold_fic (link) & lmb_challenge – as well as LOIS-BUJOLD, the general mailing list, with no Sharing Knife-specific communities or other infrastructure. It is included in the Bujold Ficathon and is an occasional Yuletide fandom.

Fanfiction is perhaps the most common fannish activity, with a little available on Archive of Our Own, Skyehawke and in the bujold_fic community on livejournal. Fanfiction started to appear before the publication of Passage, and increased after that novel. One of the earliest online works is Entanglement by Adina, written for Yuletide 2007.[6]

Short gapfillers or character studies are common. Fairbolt Crow's reaction to hearing about Dag's exploits is one frequently written scenario. KarenHunt wrote numerous long close-to-canon works in 2010–11, which often rewrite canon from different perspectives. Several Vorkosigan authors have also dabbled in the fandom, including Firefly124, Glishara, Gwynne, Philomytha and Shimotsuki. Fawn is popular among fans, despite ticking quite a few Mary-Sue boxes. Pairings are mainly the canonical m/f ones, Dag/Fawn, Sumac/Arkady & Berry/Whit. Rare fan art has been posted to DeviantArt.

Discussion focuses on the underlying North American history & geography, racial issues (in the light of Bujold's involvement in the Patricia Wrede part of the Race Fail debate),[7] the lack of religion, the genre (fantasy/science fiction/romance/Western), magic as technology, and the links with Tolkien's universe & other sources such as Mark Twain. A couple of papers on Sharing Knife were presented at the 2014 conference, Biology and Manners: The Worlds of Lois McMaster Bujold.[8]

Example Fanworks

Fanfiction

  • Entanglement by Adina. One of the fandom's earliest online works, written for Yuletide, it's a rare piece of m/m slash that explores the consequences for sex of the Lakewalkers' groundsense; Dag/Saun (2007)
  • Ripples of Change by Becca Stareyes. Dag reports on the events of Passage to Fairbolt Crow; written for the Bujold Ficathon (2008)
  • Hod's New Smile by Firefly124. Beguilement from Hod's point of view; also from the Bujold Ficathon (2008)
  • A New Beginning by KarenHunt. Arkady/Sumac novella, retelling the events of Horizon (2011)
  • Ripples in Still Water by Glishara. The effect of Dag/Fawn on Fawn's home village in five drabbles; written for the Bujold Ficathon (2011)
  • The Worth of Water by Shimotsuki. Berry/Whit gapfiller at the end of Passage; written for the Bujold Ficathon (2012)
  • Tent Bluefield by Philomytha. A close-to-canon postlude to the novels, written for Yuletide; the most popular work on AO3 (2014)
  • Terminus by Castiron. A rare look at the mysterious apocalyptic backstory, written for Yuletide. Espresso Addict writes I've always found the barely there history the most intriguing aspect of the Wide Green World. Castiron weaves together the little that Bujold provides to give us a key scene in the First Malice War, deepened by hints of all the Lakewalker civilisation has lost. The ending is perfectly judged[9] (2014)

Fan Art

Meta

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Archives

Resources

References

  1. espresso-addict: Bujold conference (accessed 3 July 2016)
  2. 2.0 2.1 philomytha: The Sharing Knife & comments (accessed 3 July 2016)
  3. dearauthor: If You Like Lois McMaster Bujold hosted by Elizabeth (accessed 3 July 2016)
  4. bracketyjack: Absent Gods, Absent Catastrophes : The Sharing Knife and The Lord of the Rings (accessed 3 July 2016)
  5. firerose: Dear Yuletide author (accessed 4 July 2016)
  6. Quietann posted a snippet of a WiP to bujold_fic on 5 June 2007, which might be the very earliest: bujold-fic: Wide Green World fic! (accessed 4 July 2016)
  7. There is potential for fan-based academic research, particularly around indigenous representation in the Sharing Knife tetralogy. The editors would be especially interested in proposals addressing the Sharing Knife as a point of interest during RaceFail '09 or as an indicator of larger tensions in SFF fandoms in North American contexts. Regina Yung Lee, in a call for papers relating to the 2014 Bujold conference: CFP: Biology and Manners: The Worlds of Lois McMaster Bujold. Abstracts due 8 Jan 2016 (accessed 3 July 2016)
  8. A fannish review of the conference by Espresso Addict is online here
  9. Espresso Recommendations: LM Bujold – Sharing Knife series (accessed 4 July 2016)