I have been working through the books by this author at the library. This is different from the other ones by her as it is fantasy instead of science fiction. It is set in Medieval Italy. She even mentions in the back of the book the three main inspirations and sources for the novel. They sound interesting. Especially the biography of Cellini. I have thought about reading more about him anyway.
She has a bit of romance, a bit of magic and a lot of political intrigue. This was quite an exciting period in Italy's history. Before Machiavelli, but not before being machiavellian. I have decided that one of the reasons I like Bujold is she writes very sympathetically about people of faith. It was nice to have the churchman not be the evil villain. He isn't the hero either, but since the hero gets married at the end of the book, that would have been hard anyway.
This reminds me of the book I read in the last while that is one of the best pictures of faith and what help from The Lord really looks like in a time of crisis: The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. A modern person goes back to the Dark Ages and gets caught in the plague. People dying all over the place does not make for a jolly book, but in the end, the churchman who is faithful to his flock and to God teaches the agnostic a very important lesson. I cried through the end of this book, and I even cried while I tried to tell David why it was so good. This is a book, like Ender's Game and a few others, that I really felt deserved the awards it won.
The Spirit Ring. Lois McMaster Bujold. Baen Books. 2000