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Bujold returns to fat fantasies
on 1 July 2002
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.