Dag and Fawn continue their mission to unite Lakewalkers and farmers in order to fight the malice menace. Horizon is the fourth book in the Sharing Knife series. It starts where the events of Passage left off with Fawn and Dag and their motley crew in the coastal city of Greywater.
Dag is still intent on bridging the trust gap between his people, the Lakewalkers who can harness a form of magic called ‘groundsense' and the rest of the population. Lakewalkers protect the rest of the world from evil creatures called malices, which can possess people and can transform normal animals into humanoid servants. A Malice can only be killed with a special Lakewalker knife called a sharing knife.
In the previous book Fawn's brother Whit proposed to Berry, the owner of the boat they had been travelling on and now they get married.
Dag has spent his life as a patroller but is now learning more about ‘making', the form of groundsense that healers and knife makers use. Dag comes up with the idea of making ground shields for farmers, basically little amulets that protect their lifeforce or “ground” from being meddled with since non-Lakewalkers usually don't possess groundsense.
Dag thinks his mission to spread knowledge and mend bridges is going too slow and he's serving reaching too few people. Fawn agrees but thinks he's going about it the wrong way and needs to train himself up first under another maker, she tells him she's been asking around and found out about a maker named Arkady who lives in the nearby New Moon camp.
Arkady is initially reluctant to teach a renegade like Dag, but Dag shows him what he has learnt on his own. Arkady is impressed with his skill and intrigued by some of the techniques and ideas Dag has developed, include the amulet idea, and agrees to take him as an apprentice. He will also be working with a healer named Challa.
Since she is not a Lakewalker Fawn is barred from moving about without an escort, she grows frustrated until Dag convinces Challa to allow her to be his extra set of hands since Dag lost one of his hands years ago in a battle. Slowly Dag and Fawn gain a little more acceptance due to his skill and Fawn's engaging ways.
Arkady tells Dag about his ex wife, and how once upon a time she also wanted to share the Lakewalker healing with farmers. That ended badly when they were overrun with desperate sick people and she gave up on it.
Berry and Whit sell their boat and plan to go upriver to Berry's home in Clearcreek, they write to Dag and Fawn asking them to come along, but Dag is uncertain since proper training can take several years.
Dag talks the New Moon knife maker into making one of the amulets for Fawn by suggesting that the technique can also be used to protect young Lakewalkers who haven't learned groundsense yet.
A farmer friend of Fawn's comes asking for medical help for a young boy with lockjaw. Dag saves the boy but the Lakewalkers find out and the camp Captain kicks them out, though many of the other Lakewalkers disagree with the deicision.
They leave, and much to their surprise Arkady follows along with them, unwilling to stop training a talent like Dag. They end up heading north in a small group along with some local farmers, two of whom Dag notices are halfboods. Dag is intrigued since he will soon have a halfblood child of his own, and talks one of them into learning groundsense.
Further north they run into a Lakewalker scout who turns out to be Dag's niece Sumac. She shares the gossip from home and rides along with them.
At the next town they find Berry and Whit who have stopped temporarily there hoping Fawn and Dag will come through so they can travel on with them.
Dag talks to Arkady about training farmers to fight against malices. Currently they can't get too close because they fall under the spell of the malice, but with the amulets they could finght as effectively as Lakewalkers if only they were trained.
As they start into the mountains two riders from New Moon camp catch up with them. The camp council has rescinded the Captain's orders, Fawn and Dag are welcome not just to come back but to live as equals in the camp and to practice healing on non-Lakewalkers.
By now Fawn is pregnant, though, and yhey are more than halfway to Berry's farm so they decide to carry on.
Shortly after that they run into a mudman, one of the servant creatures of a malice. The Lakewalkers in the group scout out to find the malice and they kill it, but Dag is puzzled because the malice was in the process of molting and should therefore not have been traveling. They press on and run into more mudmen, and Dag realizes there is a stronger malice ahead which it wwas fleeing.
The mud men they encounter are made from bats and can fly, which none of them has ever seen before. Fawn is horrified to hear one of them speak, even.
The bat mudmen swoop down and carry several people off, including Dag, who drops his knife to Fawn, thinking himself a goner. However he manages to escape, rescue the other victims, and start working his way back to the group.
The rest of the group encounters the malice, which is horrendous and winged like the mudmen. It uses its power to possess everyone except Berry, Fawn, and Whit, all of whom have amulets. They escape and Fawn devises a plan to make a crossbow bolt out of the knife so Whit can shoot the monster. The plan is successful, and with the malice dead everyone's wits return.
The amulet wearers are stunned by the magical feedback from the malice's death, and Dag is horrified when he makes it back to camp and finds Fawn is believed dead and has been buried. He can sense her lifeforce and begs them to dig her back up. At first they don't believe him but eventually they do so to mollify him, and are equally horrified when she gasps for breath and lives.
As they get ready to move on a patrol from the nearest Lakewalker camp, summoned by one of the group, arrives to help. They are astonished to hear the story of Whit slaying the malice, since no non-Lakewalker has ever done so before. The story quickly spreads, helping Dag's plan to bridge the two cultures.
Soon they arrive at Berry's farm, where Dag and Fawn plan to stay until the child is born at least. They plan to look after the place during the summers when Berry and Whit take a boat trading downriver.
Arkady and Sumac move in together and Arkady sets up treatment for farmers. As word of Whit's kill spreads to farmers as well the Lakewalkers start getting young volunteers who have lost loved ones to malice attacks, and the Lakewalkers agree to train them, increasing the amount of fighters against the malice terror.
The book ends with Fawn and Dag contentedly raising their little girl on Berry's farm and Dag's mission moving forward better than he could have imaged and the start.
Best part of story, including ending:
Seeing Dag and Fawn figure out ways to connect the two cultures, first using outsiders like themselves but also endless patience and a lot of ingenuity, is quite satisfying.
Best scene in story:
The appearance of the flying mud-men was really good, it's a scary development and super creepy that the creatures can speak. It also suggests that the malice threat is growing, since this seems much more advanced than what we've seen so far.
Opinion about the main character:
In this book Dag really takes over as the lead, and he's a solid character, patient and clever but extremely stubborn and in need of outside perspectives like Fawn and Arkady to take him out of himself.