Anyway, back to my story. When I was a kid, I would hit the library and hit it hard. I mean, I would walk away with a stack of books. Not the school library mind you, they had a two book limit that kept me coming back every other day to trade for new ones. No, the BIG library that had no limit and had massive amounts of books that would never be found in my teeny school library (although I loved that one too. Side Note: We used to have "red dot" in which the books were not yet divided by reading level, but by whether there had been a test developed for the book and since I was in French, I didn't have "reading" class. I would sneak in and take tests for my friends!).
On these visits to the library (wish it was the Doctor Who library minus the man-eating shadows), I had a particular affinity for shiny new hardcovers. I think, in my mind, there was a chance that I hadn't seen and therefore rejected those books on prior visits and so they were the first ones to look at.
I distinctly remember checking out Lois McMaster Bujold's T he Spirit Ring. It was one of these shiny new books, in our shiny new library (it was newly built and this was one of my first visits to the new building). A short time later, The Spirit Ring would be my very first hardcover purchase at a bookstore. Yep, that's when the trouble began apparently. It seems the book may be out of print now, but I highly suggest hunting down a used copy, if you can. And since it has been such a very long time (time to re-read this one now), here is what PW had to say about the book's release back in 1993:
"Hugo and Nebula winner Bujold (the Miles Vorkosigan series; Barrayar ) makes her hardcover debut with this enthralling dark fantasy set in Renaissance Italy, where the church regulates magic and licenses magicians. After Uberto Ferrante assassinates the Duke of Montefoglia and takes over the duchy, master goldsmith and sorcerer Prospero Beneforte flees with his 16-year-old daughter, Fiametta. But he dies of a heart attack while being pursued by Ferrante's men for his magical powers and knowledge. His unshriven body is taken back to Ferrante to be used in making a spirit ring granting the usurper the strong powers of black magic. Fiametta, talented in magic and metalwork but untrained because she is female, joins with Thur Ochs, a young Swiss with untapped skills in necromancy, to rescue the souls of her father and of Ochs's brother, a mercenary soldier. Aided by a wise churchman, the two youngsters take on the ancient evil of sorcery used for devilish ends. 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."
I'm busy finishing up my fourth cookbook, so I apologize for using PW instead of my own review. As I said, it has been a while since I read this one. I think I re-read it during college and I graduated in '02, just to give you some idea.
So, happy reading. Hope this prompts you to hit up your library in search of this one (or a used bookstore if you must, must, must own it like me). Oh, and if you've got a Kindle, apparently it is available in that format. How cool is that?