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09/18/2003 Entry: "A first look at PALADIN OF SOULS, by Edith"

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Here's my quickie, spoiler-free review of Bujold's latest, PALADIN OF SOULS, which begins approximately three years after THE CURSE OF CHALION (CoC).

The main character is Ista, the queen mother. Her mother, the Provincara, has just died, and she feels very hemmed in, imprisoned; everyone still thinks she is mad, and she's rarely left alone. She hits upon the idea of making a pilgrimage to visit holy places as a way to escape this stifling environment. Taking a female courier as her lady-in-waiting, and accompanied by a very small band of soldiers and a priest, she begins her journey. On the road they are attacked by a band of enemy soldiers but Ista is rescued by an incredibly handsome, virile soldier. Unfortunately, all is not as it seems, and the adventures and plot twists begin. The slow beginning was more than made up for by the action-packed last two-thirds of the story.

On the positive side, this is written the way a sequel should be. I read CoC when it first came out and remembered very little. Fortunately, it wasn't necessary. PALADIN OF SOULS is almost a stand-alone book; I think enjoyment of it would be enhanced by reading CoC first, but it isn't necessary.

Also, I'm happy to say there is a definite romance in the book. I liked the hero very much, although I didn't quite see why someone so personable was still unattached at his age (approx. thirty five years old?). Bujold does a good job in believably changing the heroine from a rather wimpy, sheltered, inactive woman into someone who takes charge of her life. I really liked many of the secondary characters, especially Liss, the courier/lady-in-waiting, and the soldier Foix.

On the negative side, I didn't feel emotionally invested in the main character Ista. I couldn't identify with her and didn't care all that much what happened to her. I haven't been able to figure out why, yet.
Another thing I didn't care for was the theology. The gods play more of a role in this book than they did in CoC, and, frankly, I think a multiplicity of gods is silly--probably because when I read the Greek and Roman myths I considered them fables. So having five real gods, well, I couldn't buy it.

I heard that Bujold is planning a book around each one of the five gods, which means there are at least three more to go in this world.

On the whole, I would recommend PALADIN OF SOULS. The writing was good; the plot, interesting.--Edith


Replies: 2 Comments

You posted this entry twice...

Posted by SK @ 09/18/2003 03:11 PM ET

Corrected. Thanks!

Posted by Preeti @ 09/19/2003 01:16 PM ET

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