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The Curse of Chalion Paperback – 1 Jul 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Jul 2002
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Voyager (1 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000713360X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007133604
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,579,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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


"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.”

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

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My review is of the EOS edition published August 2001
This is a new series, certain to be compared with Bujold's Vorkosigan saga and likely to disappoint by comparison so try to avoid doing so. It's set mainly in a country reminiscent of fourteenth century Spain. My main disappointment was that it was a little too reminiscent, strongly recalling the early life and marriage of Isabella of Castille. The historical parallels and religious reflections near the end rather overshadowed the fantasy component, which displayed less originality than I'd expect from a writer of Bujold's stature. Many of the characters too, although sympathetic, lacked depth, the two exceptions being Cazaril and his Roknari counterpart; both of whom I hope we will see more of. Cazaril is an interesting but initially reluctant hero; physically, mentally and emotionally scarred after mistreatment. The opening scene in which he strips the clothes from a bloated corpse because they are finer than his own rags and his devotion to his beloved's nose were rare glimpses of the brilliance familiar from the Vorkosigan saga. Hopefully, this series will grow to match that one in originality, plotlines and characterisation. "Curse of Chalion" is not her best book and may disappoint existing fans, but it's an intriguing opening on a new world, highly readable and despite flaws, still surpasses the work of many other authors.
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