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Lois McMaster Bujold
book cover

Chalion book 1
2001, August, Eos
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Who recommends: Robin, Margaret, Linda, JW, Edith, Danielle
Who discommends:

I just read Lois McMaster Bujold's latest, THE CURSE OF CHALION. Put me down for a hearty recommend for this as there is definitely romance in it though it's secondary to the main story line. This book is not related to the Vorkosigan saga in any way and is fantasy, not SF. There's an interesting combo of quotes on the back cover, Robert Jordan, Jean Auel, Mary Jo Putney, Harry Turtledove, Jo Beverley and Dennis McKiernan.

LMB shows a very interesting religion in this book, a family of deities based on the four seasons plus one god called the bastard, lord of all things out of season - children out of wedlock, homosexuality, etc. I don't want to say too much as the book is too new to spoil. I can't really say how solid the fantasy was since I'm not generally a reader of epic (sword and sorcery) fantasy. There is a quest.--Robin (28 Aug 01)

The library finally acquired a copy of Bujold's THE CURSE OF CHALION and I pounced on it with great enthusiasm. Fortunately most of my enthusiasm was justified. Bujold has created a fantasy world with a convincing religion, believable politics and real people. Although I must admit that, after I'd finished the book, I did have some reservations about some of the characters: the villain was a bit too ruthless and clever, the young prince too 2-dimensional and the young princess too astute for a 16-year-old with less than a year of decent training. None of these bothered me while I was reading though.

It's not easy to give much idea of the plot without giving away critical details but I will try. The hero is an ex-nobleman, ex-military commander who has recently escaped after 2 years of slavery. When the book begins he is at the tail-end of a nervous background so heads for the place where he had been a page. Here he becomes the tutor of the 15-year-old princess, heir, after her brother, to the throne (assuming the king doesn't have any children) and her 19-year-old companion. Some months later the prince and princess are invited to court where they, their companions and their tutors become involved in the rather messy politics of a court with a weak king. This leads to murders, kidnappings, attempted seductions, political betrothals, political marriages, love, betrayal, daring escapes, religious epiphanies, quests and all the other elements one would expect of heroic fantasy. For further details read the book.--Margaret (21 Sept 01)

I give a high recommend for THE CURSE OF CHALION. The romance is there though low-key for good reason. The hero is Cazaril, who had been betrayed and sold as a galley slave. He's returning home a broken man physically and, at first you think, emotionally. But you soon see that somewhere inside him he has kept his spark of humanity and honor. He's returning to his old home where he did service hoping for any lowly job. He ends up getting taken up by the Dowager Provencara and put in charge of the Royesse Isella who he vows to teach and protect. What he does for his honor and loyalty and what he endures is just outright amazing. A truly creative and different plot. And a different look at the workings of the Gods and how lucky or unlucky it is to be truly blessed by them.<g> This book was incredible. I couldn't put it down til 5am in the morning. :-) --Linda (28 Dec 01)

I thought CURSE OF CHALION was quintessential Bujold: strong plot, wonderful characters, large dollops of political intrigue. The self-deprecating hero was especially charming and the romance, while low-key, is believable and sweet. What little you see of Ista and her tragic past in this book is very intriguing and I'm really looking forward to seeing more of her in PALADIN OF SOULS.--Danielle (16 Feb 04)

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