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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bujold returns to fat fantasies
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...
Published on 1 July 2002 by Greg

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars hmmmm, okay
As a lover of The Miles Vorkosigan Saga (the MVS) I automatically picked up this Lois McMaster Bujold book and was unfortunately slightly disappointed. If you love the MVS then you probably wont like this. She is good at writing the fast witty 'space opera' of Miles yet I find her lacking in this fantasy book, which tries ever so hard to be deep and profound but falls...
Published on 17 Oct. 2002 by Amazon Customer


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bujold returns to fat fantasies, 1 July 2002
By 
Greg (Vancouver, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Curse of Chalion (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
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable and clever fantasy, 1 Jan. 2004
By 
N. Clarke (Lancs, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Curse of Chalion (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air, 8 Oct. 2003
By 
David Munro "Fishtank" (Sweden) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Curse of Chalion (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping story in a fascinating world, 21 Mar. 2006
By 
Helen Hancox "Auntie Helen" (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Curse of Chalion (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. Many of the events are shaped by the Gods and the influence they have in the real world, culminating in Cazaril becoming a living saint. And yet the hand of these gods is not always benevolent, and it is the way in which Bujold unfolds the story of the curse on the descendants of King Ias (the father of Iselle, Teidez and Orico) and the ways in which Cazaril and others try to break it.
There’s also a charming love story unfolding between Cazaril and Iselle’s handmaiden Betriz which adds a little spice to the story alongside a marriage for political gain between Iselle and a neighbouring kingdom’s heir.
What I found so enjoyable about this tale was the different setting of the quintarian religion and the way in which the gods played important roles in the story; Cazaril is a worthy hero with flashes of humour and real grit – I was rooting for him to succeed in lifting the curse.
The follow up to this book, Paladin Of Souls, is just as good – I heartily recommend both books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping story in a fascinating world, 21 Mar. 2006
By 
Helen Hancox "Auntie Helen" (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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 whom 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. Many of the events are shaped by the Gods and the influence they have in the real world, culminating in Cazaril becoming a living saint. And yet the hand of these gods is not always benevolent, and it is the way in which Bujold unfolds the story of the curse on the descendants of King Ias (the father of Iselle, Teidez and Orico) and the ways in which Cazaril and others try to break it.

There's also a charming love story unfolding between Cazaril and Iselle's handmaiden Betriz which adds a little spice to the story alongside a marriage for political gain between Iselle and a neighbouring kingdom's heir.

What I found so enjoyable about this tale was the different setting of the quintarian religion and the way in which the gods played important roles in the story; Cazaril is a worthy hero with flashes of humour and real grit - I was rooting for him to succeed in lifting the curse.

The follow up to this book, Paladin Of Souls, is just as good - I heartily recommend both books. And, as a side note, I have this book on CD read by Lloyd James and he does an excellent job of the reading too. A book to savour and enjoy - in whatever format.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing brings vibrant life to politics!, 20 Feb. 2003
By 
K. Newman "krazykmcd" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Curse of Chalion (Paperback)
The action here is through the politics of the characters and resulting motivations, while the emotion is vested in our lead character, Cazaril, and the intense loyality and more that he feels for 'his' two ladies - an intensity he felt from the time he first saw them on his return to his homeland, to the very last line of the book.
Cazaril has returned from war a broken man, in body and largely in spirit, and at the opening of the book he simply wants a place to stop and rest - even a small space on the floor. Rather, the ruling family that he served before the war instead receive him as the wounded hero he is, and set him up as the tutor / secretary of the daughter of the house, who along with her brother are heirs to their part of the kingdom. The privileged have their own responsibilities, and in short order both young heirs have to go to the central city, where their brother who rules the Chalion as a whole has brought them. Once there, both are subject to the overt political manoeuvrings of the court. And few with motives of the good of those they seek to manipulate. But more than that, events enable Cazaril to identify a horrifying curse that hovers over Chalion, and in particlular in the line that rules it. A curse that infects even his student...
Cazaril is clearly an extraordinary character. Those who have read LMB's Vorkosigan series will recognise that because a body is damaged, does not mean that the character cannot be exceptional. Aside from the fact that Cazaril's body doesn't work as well as others, and that he has a keen tactical mind, however, there is not much similarity to that series, and fans of the series will have to keep this firmly in mind if setting out to read this book - it is a different story altogether. However, the writing is just as excellent.
It can be a stretch from time to time to follow the many different agendas of the various secondary characters, however I quickly found I became very much involved with the interior events of Cazaril. He is a man who makes sacrifices for what he believes is right, regardless of the cost to himself. A few - luckily among them the few who matter to him most - recognise him for the exceptional man that he is. His advice and tactics are always spot on, and the flaws he sees in others do tend to rear up and bite them, sometimes fatally. The females in the story are strong or brave, or unusually perceptive, and they are the ones who seem to value Cazaril most, which I greatly enjoyed about this book. Although the perspective never shifts from Cazaril, even when he seems less aware, the reader can tell how important he is to both those that care for him, and the success of the various plans that are made. His charge Iselle goes from naïve girl to perceptive and thinking royal under his care and supervision, very much coming into her own.
Politics, religion, tactics, warfare, loyality, love and friendship. There's something for everyone here.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 14 Dec. 2002
By 
M Shaw (Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Curse of Chalion (Paperback)
This is a departure from her Barryar books, which I have read over the years. The hero, Cazaril, is a very likeable humane man. He has suffered much, but his sufferings have not made him bitter or cruel, he tends to underrate his own abilities and worth and his wry sense of humour is much in evidence as he tackles the problems life has put in front of him. The story holds together well, moving at a reasonable pace. The country, the inhabitants, their mores, are all well developed. A totally believable world which holds your interest from beginning to end. No magic or fancy science, just good old fashioned heroism and courage.
Do read it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is my first, but definately not my last Bujold!!, 3 Mar. 2003
This review is from: The Curse of Chalion (Paperback)
I hadn't read any of Ms Bujold's work before but, if "The Curse of Chalion" is anything to go by, I've certainly been missing out. Cazaril is a well written character I found easy to empathise with. From his return from the sea to his evential rise he maintains his honour through a series of life events that would leave most characters dead or insane. Ok, so he makes a few mistakes along the way; it would be a lousy story if he didn't; but he wins through because he knows the difference between might and right.
A gripping book I couldn't put down. Wonderful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Miles but Cazaril !!!, 20 Mar. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Curse of Chalion (Paperback)
As a HUGE fan of Miles Vorkosigan since the begining (and with an admitted weakness for flawed heroes) I approached this book with some trepidation - but I shouldn't have worried! The writing is as crisp and clear as I have come to expect and the adventure is a wonderful mix of the cosmic scale and personal epiphany. Cazaril is a charming but always less than perfect hero who "gets down and dirty" when needed and doesn't always escape unscathed. His Princess is all one would expect of a liege lord and the supporting cast is lively and varied. I would highly recommend this to all Bujold MacMaster fans, and I am waiting impatiently for the next in what I hope is a long and significant series!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply perfect, 18 Aug. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Curse of Chalion (Paperback)
I came to The Curse of Chalion with some apprehension, loving the Vorkosigan series and wondering how Bujold's new fantasy would measure up. I need not have worried.
Chalion compelled and held me more than any Bujold since Memory. It surprised me endlessly, made me laugh, made me grin inanely, and I even found myself choking back tears of joy toward the end.
Astonishing.
This book is so perfect, so self contained and attains such closure for the characters that I am both unnerved and delighted at the idea of more books in this series. I can hardly wait.
Thank you, Ms Bujold.
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The Curse of Chalion
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