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.
"[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)
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.
Bernedette Dunn, who read The Sharing Knife books by Bujold would have done a better job of it.
no, it's complete in itself.
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.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
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.
Lois McMaster Bujold, Yes. Jessica Almasy, No.
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?
Sure, it's YA but entertainilng
She does the teenage herioine with just the right amount of attitude and self absoption
Don't see what the complaints about Jessica Almasy are about, I thought see sounded adorable!
No, but it was worth a listen
I liked how the characters all have major flaws. A clash between good and evil.
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.
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.
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.
...occasionally broadens her horizons, but generally just wants to be entertained...
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.
Anything 'Bujold has written is worth a listen, but this certainly would not have made me the avid fan I am of her other works. It's a good, solid, historical/magic genre tale.
This story is told from the perspective of a young woman whose greatest wish is to be a proper apprentice to her metalsmith-magician father. Instead, the assassination of the local Duke by a very bad man leads to her father's death. Fiametta has to find her own way, with the help of friends, to defeat her town's enemies. I enjoyed immersing myself in this world - the heroine is bright and appealing, and the secondary characters are rich and interesting, with plausible motivations and reactions. I love Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan sagas, but I would happily visit her version of sixteenth century Italy again.
"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.
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