One of the most honored authors in the field of fantasy and science fiction, Lois McMaster Bujold transports us once more to a dark and troubled land and embroils us in a desperate struggle to preserve the endangered souls of a realm.
Three years have passed since the widowed Dowager Royina Ista found release from the curse of madness that kept her imprisoned in her family's castle of Valenda. Her newfound freedom is costly, bittersweet with memories, regrets, and guilty secrets -- for she knows the truth of what brought her land to the brink of destruction. And now the road -- escape -- beckons. . . . A simple pilgrimage, perhaps. Quite fitting for the Dowager Royina of all Chalion.
Yet something else is free, too -- something beyond deadly. To the north lies the vital border fortress of Porifors. Memories linger there as well, of wars and invasions and the mighty Golden General of Jokona. And someone, something, watches from across that border -- humans, demons, gods.
Ista thinks her little party of pilgrims wanders at will. But whose? When Ista's retinue is unexpectedly set upon not long into its travels, a mysterious ally appears -- a warrior nobleman who fights like a berserker. The temporary safety of her enigmatic champion's castle cannot ease Ista's mounting dread, however, when she finds his dark secrets are entangled with hers in a net of the gods' own weaving.
In her dreams the threads are already drawing her to unforeseen chances, fateful meetings, fearsome choices. What the inscrutable gods commanded of her in the past brought her land to the brink of devastation. Now, once again, they have chosen Ista as their instrument. And again, for good or for ill, she must comply.
In this sequel to The Curse of Chalion (2001), rich in sumptuous detail and speculative theology, dowager royina Ista Dy Baocia undertakes a pilgrimage to ease her soul and finds instead that in Chalion, Bujold's handsomely crafted fantasy world ruled by Five Gods "just around some strange corner of perception," a more dangerous fate awaits than she could ever have imagined. Swordplay and sorcery sweep sensitive, sensible 40-year-old Ista into Chalion's border stronghold of Porifors, where enemy Roknari incursions and demons from the Fifth God's hell threaten Ista's realm, held precariously at bay by the charismatic Arhys dy Lutez. Ista's romantic quest to save Arhys and his magnetic half-brother, Illvin, teems with equal parts of unearthly magic and down-to-earth quasi-medieval lore. Despite an occasional lapse into adolescent angst and spurts of superficial dialogue, high fantasy fans should thrill at Ista's spiritual perils, while horse admirers of all ages should savor even Ista's saddle sores. This engaging installment of Chalion's mythical history whets the appetite for new marvels yet to come. Author tour. FYI:Bujold has won both Hugo and Nebula awards.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Improves on rereading
Or at least right after Curse of Chalion.
This is my first reread after reading all the Penric novellas, and I have a much better feel for the “Chalionverse”. Rereading this —and Curse of Chalion—was not the slog it was the first time around.
Some things really do improve after a bit of aging. Then again, with age sometimes one forgets much of what was read before, and it’s all new again.
Better than the first.
Bujold's second Chalion novel is stunningly fantastic. I highly recommend it!
Curse of Chalion was an imaginative tour de force, original, evocative, and surprising. I bought Paladin of Souls with no ability to foresee where she would take the world she had built, but trusting that she could tell the story of a minor character from the first novel in a manner I'd find interesting.
That the second novel could so far surpass the first was something I never even considered.
Buy The Curse of Chalion. Then buy this book. Then buy the Hallowed Hunt, which isn't as good, but is still delightful. You won't regret it.