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Curse of Chalion School & Library Binding – Dec 2003

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Product details

  • School & Library Binding
  • Publisher: San Val (Dec. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0613673247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0613673242
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Amazon Review

In The Curse of Chalion Lois McMaster Bujold abandons her usual military space-opera for good reason; this is an emotionally powerful, inventively plotted novel which needs to be fantasy to work. Cazaril, betrayed by his enemies into a crippling two years in the galleys, returns to court a physical and emotional wreck: appointed secretary-tutor to the young princess Iselle, he finds himself in direct opposition to his powerful betrayers. His preparedness to make the ultimate sacrifice and save Iselle from an unwanted marriage to one of them by a death spell that will kill him also has unforeseen results; he learns the hard way that the gods have plans for him, ingenious and mischievous plans.

Bujold does charm very well--we share Cazaril's sheer joy at mentoring the bright snippy Iselle--and she is also good at physical and emotional pain--Cazaril's sense of himself as broken and worn-out is entirely convincing. This is also a fantasy which includes some inventive thinking about the nature of gods and the consequences of curses; there is a nasty-minded logic to almost everything that happens here. Bujold's fans will read it without recommendation; many readers who have resisted the Vorkosigan books will find this an attractive and intelligent fantasy. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Fresh, intriguing, and as always from Lois McMaster Bujold, superb."
Robert Jordan, New York Times best selling author of The Wheel of Time Series

“Bujold continues to prove what marvels genius can create out of basic space operatics.”
Booklist

"This is one of the great ones."
Science Fiction Chronicle

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Greg on 1 July 2002
Format: Paperback
After some years in which she stuck to science fiction, Bujold has again brought out, in her words, "a fat fantasy." This one is set in an alternate late mediaeval Spain. Only in this world, there are multiple gods. Unlike many fantasies which include gods, The Curse of Chalion treats the gods seriously, exploring in some depth the relationship between the world of spirit and the world of matter, and specifically the kinds of events which would bring the two into contact. Rather than being cheap plot devices to bring about events which wouldn't be believable otherwise, Bujold's gods are real, with their own character and motivations. As such, this book provides a tantalising glimpse into Bujold's own theological thinking, a subject about which she is not otherwise forthcoming.
The protagonist, Cazaril, has had a tough life, culminating in a long stretch at the oars of a slave galley. When he is finally rescued, he makes for the castle where he had a happy period in his childhood, serving as a page. He hopes that the lady of the castle will remember him, and give him a nice, comfortable, safe position, where he can recuperate from his assorted physical and psychic injuries in peace. Of course, knowing Bujold, you just know that comfort, safety, and peace are the last things Cazaril is going to find. What we find in these pages is a new Bujold hero, every bit as worthy to carry on the tradition of her brilliant characters as Miles Vorkosigan and Leo Graf.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By N. Clarke on 1 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
I've never read any of Bujold's other work, but after _The Curse of Chalion_ I think I might. This is an absorbing, skillfully-woven tale of curses and consequences, told with succinct artistry in a single volume. (I gather more books set in this world are to come, but the story here is self-contained).
Having escaped the slavery that he was betrayed into, Cazaril returns home a broken man. He is appointed tutor to the spirited Royesse Iselle, whose fierce intelligence and infectious passion for life gives him back some of the joy he has lost, and a purpose - protecting her, whatever the cost to himself. Gradually, he becomes aware of a terrible curse afflicting the royal family, and determines to lift it.
The curse itself is a fascinating creation, one intimately bound up in the nature of the world Bujold has created. The gods are very much active forces, here, and consequences resonate through generations. Curse and story alike unfold in unexpected, occasionally shocking directions, resulting in a quite brilliant portrait of how desperation can warp even the strongest fidelity.
The characters are engaging and most are well-rounded, each bringing their own histories and secrets to the story, which unfold naturally with the narrative. Their pain - physical and emotional - is believable and affecting.
Even over 400 pages, the novel doesn't quite retain its momentum; the pacing is a little uneven and the ending a little unsatisfying (to me, at least). Nevertheless, this is a gripping and intriguing tale that I couldn't put down.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David Munro on 8 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback
All to often fantasy novels deal with a group of stereotypical characters searching for some mystical item in a battle against evil.
Using some believable characters who do not easily fit the stereotypes, taking time to build up those characters to the point where the reader's imagination breathes life into them, and giving them a well thought-out world and theology to interact with, while telling a story that relies on intrigue and politic for its thrills - and thrills are plentiful - instead of swords and sorcery, Bujold has written a captivating book that was a true joy to read.
The stereotypes do creep in in the second half of the book, but never in a way that feels contrived. It is hard to recommend the Curse of Chalion enough. Unputdownable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Helen Hancox on 21 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
From page one of this book I was gripped, and as events unfolded I found myself transported to a new world, that of the kingdom of Chalion.
Our guide for the story is Cazaril who we first meet as a tired and lame beggar making his way to the fortress where his erstwhile employer, the Provincara (rather like the Queen Mum) of Chalion, lives. Cazaril was previously a Castillar (a Noble) and a courtier but after a fortress he was defending was breached he was taken away as a prisoner of war by the Roknari peoples who forced him to be a galley slave on boats for eighteen months, thus his broken down health. His reminiscences of his history before the time we meet him in the story gradually unfold and prove to be more important to events that initially apparent.
Once Cazaril is accepted into the Provincara’s service again as a tutor to her granddaughter we meet other members of her family – her daughter Ista (who appears to be mad), her granddaughter Iselle the princess (Or Royesse), her brother Teidez the prince (or Royce), their elder half-brother Orico (the Roya) and his wife (the Royina) and various other courtiers. As you can see from the different terms given for the grades of nobles, it can be quite confusing and I would rather have enjoyed a table of degrees of nobility – might have made it a bit simpler.
What’s fascinating about this book (and its sequel, Paladin of Souls, which I read straight after this one) is the theological background to the story. Bujold has created an entire religious system based on five deities (the Father, The Mother, The Daughter, The Son and The Bastard) – the religious observance of the people of Chalion is portrayed brilliantly.
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