Horizon is the fourth and final book in the Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold.
Having reached the bottom of the river, Dag and Fawn go off to see if he can get some training from a Lakewalker healer. Wherein we learn a new term ‘groundsetter’, which I never did quite figure out. It seems to be a specialty, somewhat like a surgeon. This guy, Arkady, takes on the unconventional Dag as his apprentice. But when Dag goes off to heal a farmer kid with lockjaw, this Lakewalker camp isn’t too keen on the idea. So Dag leaves, but he acquires Arkady and a patroller chick. And they all head up The Trace, which is basically a land path up the river back north. Naturally, along the way, they acquire more people, Lakewalker and farmer both.
So other than Dag being a little more educated, this is basically the plot of the last book. Heading on up the river instead of down, acquiring people as they go. I was enjoying the trip, but after awhile, I started wondering when the big, bad conflict would come along. So every time they encountered a new person or group or weird thing, I wondered if this was going to be it. Only, mostly it turned out not to be it.
When the big bad does show up, it’s pretty interesting. And everyone gets something to do. And people get hurt. And people do clever things.
Around about this time, I was having real trouble telling people apart. There were so many of them and they all had similar, one or two-syllable names, mostly nature-based. There’s Ash and Owlet and Sage and Berry and on and on. And just from the name, you couldn’t guess at gender. And just from the name, you couldn’t guess if they were Lakewalker or farmer. So I’d be staring at a name, trying to remember… Lakewalker or farmer? Male or female? Whose husband was that again?
The last chapter was an epilogue. An entire chapter of infodump to tell us what people had been up to and where they’ll go now that the story is over. Granted it’s not ‘As you know, Bob..’ because the Bob in this situation doesn’t know. They’re filling each other in on what they’ve missed while being apart. So while it’s effective enough, it’s a little inelegant.
One theme in this book is halfbloods. Some of the people they pick up along the way are half-Lakewalker, half-farmer, and of course Dag and Fawn are concerned how any of their children are going to get along in the world. And the final chapter really draws this out.
Which is kind of a shame, because I’m actually far more interested in the halfbloods.
All in all, a decent end to a decent story. Though nothing about the series really wowed me. If Bujold writes more in this world, I’ll definitely read it. But I won’t be going back to reread these anytime soon. Unlike the Vorkosigan books, which I really do need to go back and reread soon.