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The Spirit Ring | [Lois McMaster Bujold]

The Spirit Ring

Fiametta Beneforte dreamed of making beautiful and enchanted objets d'art, but alas her magician-goldsmith father was more likely to have her scrub the kiln than study magic. After all, it was a waste to train a mere daughter beyond the needs of the moment.... Thur Ochs dreamed of escaping the icy mines of Bruinwald. But the letter from his brother Uri arranging his apprenticeship to Master Beneforte was not the only force that drew him over the mountains to the Duchy of Montefoglia.
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Publisher's Summary

Fiametta Beneforte dreamed of making beautiful and enchanted objets d'art, but alas her magician-goldsmith father was more likely to have her scrub the kiln than study magic. After all, it was a waste to train a mere daughter beyond the needs of the moment.

Thur Ochs dreamed of escaping the icy mines of Bruinwald. But the letter from his brother, Uri, arranging his apprenticeship to Master Beneforte was not the only force that drew him over the mountains to the Duchy of Montefoglia....

A betrayal at a banquet plunges Thur and Fiametta into a struggle against men who would use vile magic for vile ends. The needs of this desperate moment will require all their wits, all their talents, and all their courage, if they are to rescue both Montefoglia and the souls of those they most love.

©1992 Lois McMaster Bujold (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[An] enthralling dark fantasy set in Renaissance Italy, where the church regulates magic and licenses magicians.... In a perfectly natural manner, Bujold incorporates the concept of magic into this crisply paced, fully developed tale. She notes that Benvenuto Cellini served as the inspiration for the hugely talented, hugely egocentric Beneforte." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (167 )
5 star
 (47)
4 star
 (59)
3 star
 (43)
2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (8)
Overall
4.0 (146 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (3)
Story
3.6 (141 )
5 star
 (44)
4 star
 (39)
3 star
 (30)
2 star
 (12)
1 star
 (16)
Performance
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  •  
    Becca Whitmore Lake, MI, United States 02-18-12
    Becca Whitmore Lake, MI, United States 02-18-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "On the whole, a disappointment"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The Spirit Ring is clearly early Bujold, but loads of fun anyway - except that this reader is so over the top in her reading that I found it hard to listen to and may not finish it in spite of my loving Lois Bujold's work. There are odd pauses and cadences to the reading that seem to have nothing to do with the actual sentence being read. At one point a character wails something, and it's read like an Old Testament prophet thundering, rather than being the voice of terror and despair.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jessica Almasy?

    Bernedette Dunn, who read The Sharing Knife books by Bujold would have done a better job of it.


    Do you think The Spirit Ring needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    no, it's complete in itself.


    Any additional comments?

    Fantasy lovers should find a copy of this book to read - it's very good - but I'd appreciate any other reviewers who might have found different things in the narrator than I did.

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel N Parenteau 02-20-12 Member Since 2000
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    "Story decent, narrator not"
    Would you try another book from Lois McMaster Bujold and/or Jessica Almasy?

    Lois McMaster Bujold, Yes. Jessica Almasy, No.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Possibly pre-reading the text? It seemed as though the narrator was reading the lines for the first time, much of the inflections and tones were off target. Regardless, I thought that another narrator would have been much better. Anna Fields?


    Was The Spirit Ring worth the listening time?

    Yes


    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 02-21-12
    David Houston, TX, United States 02-21-12 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Thin Bujold"

    This is an early work--not the Bujold who has since learned to keep us totally engaged and convinced, who surprises us with both her inventiveness and her underlying wisdom about human nature, its foibles and its glories. Her characteristic wit is here, and her plot, though quite simple, is well fashioned and reasonably satisfying in the end but, like MIles Vorkosigan in his youth, between the flashes of brilliance here there is a good deal that is unremarkable and sometimes even banal.

    There is, however, still more than enough imaginative story telling and good humor to provide an entertaining and sometimes delightful read. This is especially true if you have read Cellini's "Autobiography," since Bujold recasts the old scoundrel in her tale to great effect, even including the casting of his great, bronze Perseus as a major plot point. What is more, her appropriation of Renaissance Italy as her setting for magical and political skulduggery is artful and entirely apt. (I wonder if this book inspired Dave Duncans‘s enjoyable series of magical adventure novels set in Venice during the same period.)

    As other reviewers have mentioned, the narration is problematic. While Almasy’s enunciation is particularly clear and her energy is wonderful, she makes the protagonist sound like a bit of an airhead, and too often she mispronounces words or mangles the shape of a sentence. I agree that a much more thorough pre-reading was in order. It was particularly strange to hear her mispronounce one word in its first appearance and correct it in subsequent usages.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve 03-14-12
    Steve 03-14-12

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "For a Bujold fan this is a nice appitizer."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Sure, it's YA but entertainilng


    What does Jessica Almasy bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She does the teenage herioine with just the right amount of attitude and self absoption


    Any additional comments?

    Don't see what the complaints about Jessica Almasy are about, I thought see sounded adorable!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mike 03-25-12
    mike 03-25-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Nice enough story. Didn't care for the narrator."

    Yes, this is early Bujold, but she still shows the talent that has made her one of the best SF/fantasy authors writing today. The story moves quickly and the characters seem like real people. The latter is rare in the genre.

    The narrator has a nasal and high pitched voice, which I never got used to. She's skilled enough, but is someone I'll avoid unless I really want to listen to a novel.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Hickory Creek, TX United States 03-07-12
    Daniel Hickory Creek, TX United States 03-07-12 Member Since 2006
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    "Another great story"

    This woman is a magician! She's got to be one of the best contemporary writers out there. Humor, pathos, adventure, action... it's all there, waiting for you to experience. Jessica Almsly did a great job reading it.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Austin, TX, United States 04-19-12
    Charles Austin, TX, United States 04-19-12 Member Since 2005

    Yo

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting combination of material and magic"
    Would you listen to The Spirit Ring again? Why?

    No, but it was worth a listen


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked how the characters all have major flaws. A clash between good and evil.


    What about Jessica Almasy???s performance did you like?

    nice voice


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    no.


    Any additional comments?

    The Christian themes in this book make it a bit awkward a more transparent battle between good and evil is shown, but at the same time it hints upon inquisition torture leaving the reader to wonder if there are in fact any good or evil in groups or just individual good and evil which is often compromised by organizations.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roberta Salzburg, Austria 02-28-12
    Roberta Salzburg, Austria 02-28-12 Member Since 2010

    ...occasionally broadens her horizons, but generally just wants to be entertained...

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    "Enjoyed the Story, had to get used to the narrator"

    I quite enjoyed the story. It's about a young girl who loses everything she has but matures into an adult while regaining what she can while defying cultural authority, convention and finds that true love doesn't have to be in the form of a shining knight.
    The narration at first was, for my ears, very childish. Before I got used to it the pipey, teenage female voice (albeit very suited to the age and sex of the main character) was quite distracting. But the work was well done and I did enjoy the book as a whole.

    The story was also enjoyable, with enough twists and turns and creativity to build suspense and interest for the whole time.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charlie Russel Sunshine Coast, BC, CA 04-18-12
    Charlie Russel Sunshine Coast, BC, CA 04-18-12
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    "Early, YA, non-series, Bujold. Good, not great"

    Fiametta Beneforte, the young daughter of a magician/jeweler loses her father, and her home, to a vicious attack.This is the story of how she recovers and perserveres to discover her own magic, win her handsome husband, and defeat the evil men who killed her father. Good magic, likeable characters, despicable bad guys, and even a swayback white horse. All in all a delightful story, though without the depth of later Bujolds.

    The reader, Jessica Almasy, is hardly my favourite reader, but in the end doesn't spoil the book for me. But a better reading would have pushed this up to 5 star overall.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bookaunt Nebraska, USA 07-26-14
    bookaunt Nebraska, USA 07-26-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Good book - narrator not recommended"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I enjoyed the story this book tells (I have a hardcover copy). The mixture of a recognizable history and historical place with magical elements is a fun setting for a coming-of-age/young romance story; however, I would recommend my friends read the book instead. Like other reviewers, I found the narrator's performance a real hindrance to my enjoyment of the audio version. While her characterization's were usually good, I often wondered if she actually had any idea the direction the sentences she was reading were going, since she was prone to odd pauses and emphases which were extremely annoying and made it hard to listen to.


    What other book might you compare The Spirit Ring to and why?

    Although the books are not really similar, I was reminded of George McDonald's The Princess and the Goblin since the male protagonists of both stories are miners and it is their contact with underground non-humans which is catalyst for their journeys.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Jessica Almasy’s performances?

    I would need a long preview before committing a credit.


    Could you see The Spirit Ring being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No - can't see this one as either a movie or TV series.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 21 results PREVIOUS123NEXT
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  • Catriona
    Lincoln, United Kingdom
    3/5/13
    Overall
    "need to stick with it"

    I remember when I first read this book I gave up after a few chapters, then went back a year or so later and enjoyed it. It could be the same for some with this recording. The story at first is not particularly interesting; told initially from the point of view of a teenage girl who seems somewhat self obsessed. It is not helped by the narrator who has a girlish voice, puts her emphasis in very strange places in the sentence, bringing it to a complete stop, and sometimes mispronounces words. (unless Bujold really was writing about women's undergarments rather than a brazier)

    The story and characters do however develop and either the narrator improves or I was able to ignore her better.

    It is clearly early Bujold and is written for a younger readership, but you can see in there the development of the maturer writer and some of her incidental description, such as when Thur is sitting in the monastery garden talking to Fiametta, is quite lovely.

    I can't help feeling that she used some of the ideas from this to develop for the Chalion books.

    I can't give it full marks, but it's an enjoyable story with an exciting and unusual climax.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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