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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic, mages and the might of right
Fiametta Beneforte is a metal worker, the unofficial apprentice to her father, who is also a master mage. Unfortunately, as a female although she has the talent, Fiametta is not in the ordinary run of things likely to be acknowledged as a mage herself, although she has the talent and the skill. But the usual run of things is interrupted when a diplomatic negotiation...
Published on 24 Oct 2003 by K. Newman

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not her best
An engaging and entertaining read, but not as good as Bujold's science fiction.
Published on 13 Nov 1998


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic, mages and the might of right, 24 Oct 2003
By 
K. Newman "krazykmcd" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spirit Ring (Mass Market Paperback)
Fiametta Beneforte is a metal worker, the unofficial apprentice to her father, who is also a master mage. Unfortunately, as a female although she has the talent, Fiametta is not in the ordinary run of things likely to be acknowledged as a mage herself, although she has the talent and the skill. But the usual run of things is interrupted when a diplomatic negotiation turns to betrayal and the town is subsequently under siege. Fiametta and her father escape, but her father soon dies.
Thur Oches is a miner with a talent for finding things lost and for metal, plus a skill in forgery (not faking – heating and casting metal). His brother has obtained an apprenticeship under a master goldsmith and mage, Beneforte. He travels towards the town to encounter Fiametta on the way, who gives him news of the Master’s death. Thur and Fiametta have a common need to return to the town, and together with the help of several monks, they work for retribution and justice, to save the town and the rest of their livelihood.
It’s a folk story, full of magic, evil and unusual beings in the form of the kobolds. Simple, uncomplicated story combining known Italy / Europe / religious influence with magery and fantasy. A skilful blend that results in a pleasing satisfying tale of a band of a few good people with right on their side, opposing a defined and evil threat.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A spectacular fantasy from the award-winning SF author, 5 Nov 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Spirit Ring (Paperback)
From the writer of award-winning SF comes this spectacular fantasy. Set in an alternative history where magic works, this book is many things. It is a scientific exploration of magic, it is a touching romance, it is gripping battle between the forces of good and evil.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not her best, 13 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Spirit Ring (Paperback)
An engaging and entertaining read, but not as good as Bujold's science fiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Reading, 14 Feb 2009
By 
J. R. Bedford (Huddersfield UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spirit Ring (Paperback)
This is vintage Bujold, 1992, a rare standalone published between `The Vor Game' (1990) and Mirror Dance' (1994) though in many way it feels like a much earlier work. It's a straightforward fantasy set in a Renaissance Italy where licensed mages work white magic with the blessings (and supervision) of the church, but where the Inquisition still looms to seek out black magic. Fiametta is the daughter of master mage and metal artisan, Master Beneforte. Though Master Beneforte has refused to train her in magic arts (because she's only a girl) Fiametta is learning metal craft and is already skilled in the fine casting of jewellery pieces. She's also learned far more about magic (and has a talent and a deeper understanding) than her father has given her credit for.

When Master Beneforte and Fiametta go to a reception at the Duke's palace to present a work of art at the betrothal of the Duke's daughter to neighbouring Lord Ferrante, they don't expect treachery, but suddenly Fiametta and her father are on the run from Ferrante and his men and though they get away, her father soon dies of a heart attack leaving Fiametta alone with his body. And it's the body that's the problem, for an unburied body and an unshriven soul can be used for black magical purposes by one ruthless enough to do so, and Ferrante has a magician in his retinue prepared to do just that. If he can complete the rites before Fiametta can stop him Master Beneforte's power and knowledge will be trapped within a spirit ring and in his and Ferrante's power.

Fiametta's allies include an elderly warrior-turned-church-man and Thur Ochs, seeking his brother, a guard captain and Fiametta's friend, whose fate is unknown. Fiametta is amazed when Thur, whom she sees as nothing more than a country clod, is magically identified as her true love. Luckily Thur is far more than he seems. Uneducated but intelligent, kind and patient (not to mention tall and strong as an ox) he has a knack of finding things that are lost, starting with Fiametta.

This is a richly imagined book full of complications and well-drawn characters. It draws on actual artisans and their artifacts and evokes the spirit of Renaissance Italy - albeit a smaller rural Dukedom rather than Rome or Florence - yet incorporates magic in a natural manner. The ending is satisfying and the only slight quibble I have is that there's a small unresolved plot-bunny regarding Fiametta's mother. Though all the dark deeds are nicely tied up it's easy to imagine that Bujold intended to write a sequel. Sadly - after seventeen years - that sequel seems unlikely.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent because it is funny, 16 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Spirit Ring (Hardcover)
This was the first Bujold book I happened to pick up. A medieval fantasy would not normally be a vehicle for comedy, but this one is. There are several zinger lines and a sequence involving poisoned wine that is hillarious. The book makes a serious point and makes you laugh at the same time.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underated, 17 Feb 2003
This review is from: The Spirit Ring (Mass Market Paperback)
A well realised magic system that draws on traditional and contempory thinking combines with the authors ability to write engaging characters and plots. that move at a fast pace.
It lacks the inconistancies that ocasionally marr her SF. I suspect the extra effort she made to keep the magic consistent. showed benefits throughout the plot.
I suspect the majority of her readership SF orientation does her a diservice here.
Simon
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not Bujold's usual fare, but great work, nonetheless!, 5 Dec 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Spirit Ring (Paperback)
Lois McMaster Bujold is known for her hard sf writing. However, with THE SPIRIT RING, she shows she can handle fantasy as well. A great read and a good time! Pamela Adams
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a fine read, 7 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Spirit Ring (Paperback)
A light fantasy, this book is a real change of pace for LMcB; but it is still in her own style, covering the serious and sprinkling it through with light humour. An entertaining and amusing read.
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3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stick with Miles!!!, 13 Aug 2002
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This review is from: The Spirit Ring (Mass Market Paperback)
I could not stop putting this book down. Dear oh dear. This "novel" has a very contrived predictable plot (If one can actually justify it being a plot) peopled by wooden characters and is set somewhere in Italy of all places sometime in the ?1500`s. Magic powers in an Italian village??!!! The whole premise of the plot is toe curling in the extreme. The Miles Vorkosigan series has pace, imagination, wit, humour, style and continuity. PLEASE stick to what you do well...
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The Spirit Ring
The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold (Mass Market Paperback - May 2000)
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