A magnificent epic tale of devotion, possession, obsession, and strange destiny from the author of the Hugo Award-winning
Paladin of Souls
Lois McMaster Bujold
The half-mad Prince Boleso has been slain by a noblewoman he had intended to defile -- and Lord Ingrey kin Wilfcliff must transport the body to its burial place and the accused killer, the Lady Ijada, to judgment. With the death of the old Hallow King imminent and the crown in play, the road they must travel together is a dangerous one. And though he is duty-bound to deliver his prisoner to an almost certain death, Ijada may be the only one Ingrey dares trust. For a monstrous malevolence holds the haunted lord in its sway -- and a great and terrible destiny has been bestowed upon him by the gods, the damned, and the dead.
The absorbing third installment in Bujold's epic fantasy series (after The Curse of Chalion and the Hugo-winning Paladin of Souls) links a disinherited swordsman hero with a beguiling damsel accused of murdering a royal prince in a land worshiping five gods, menaced by encroaching neighbors and swarming with ancient magic and lethal political intrigue. Lord Ingrey kin Wolfcliff, sent by the kingdom's sealmaster to fetch orphaned Lady Ijada to trial, soon learns they both unwillingly bear animal spirits received in forbidden power rites stretching centuries back into the primeval Weald. With the aged Hallow King now dying, Ingrey and Ijada journey toward the king's hall at Easthome, falling into a love that appears doomed, while Ingrey's powerful fey cousin, Lord Wencel, spins a cunning web of bloodthirsty ambition that binds them to him in an unholy trinity. Though the book's complicated magical-religious structure requires considerable suspension of disbelief, Bujold brings to life a multitude of convincing secondary characters, especially skaldic warrior-poet Prince Jokol and his ice bear, Fafa. Bujold's ability to sustain a breathless pace of action while preserving a heady sense of verisimilitude in a world of malignant wonders makes this big novel occasionally brilliant and not a word too long.