If you like well-developed characters, this book has them. The first 175 pages is spent solely on character development and providing history on Cazaril, the unlikely hero of the story. It makes for very slow reading, but the book does pick up by page 200.
This is a non-traditional fantasy. There is no magic; instead, Cazaril's world has a very dominant, active religion, where miracles happen.
Excellent read from an author at the very top of her form. Clever, thorough world-building with no sacrifice of character. Leaped straight to the top of my all-time favorites list of books to re-read. Not going to re-post this one, sorry! It's a keeper.
Weeks after finishing this book I still find myself remembering these characters, their lives and interactions. Great book.
I loved every second! This was my very first Bujold book, and poof! I became an immediate life-long fan!
Things started out fine.... It's a big fantasy, so there's always a lot of background info to impart at the beginning. Unusual set-up for a main character (which turns out to be the norm for Bujold -- yet another thing I love about her books), then the story started to get more established.... And then bang! About a third of the way in there was a huge twist and I was completely revited! There was one little place where I thought something was just a little too convenient, but this was good enough for a reread!
The story is full of court politics, long conversations, and the main fantasy element is based in the local religion. No dragons or elves running about in this one -- it's the five gods who control the magic here. Well, maybe I should say it's the five gods and the high court who make poor Cazaril's life so crazy during the story!
Oh -- and this book is fully stand-alone. It's technically the first book in the Chalion series, but the plot comes to a full conclusion, and the other books in the series are set in the same world but tell their own stories as well, mostly using new characters. In fact, if you're following the series, it makes absolutely no difference if you read the second or the third book next -- there's zero overlap between two.
What a great book!
It reminded me to put everything by Bujold that I haven't read on my wishlist!
Engaging characters meet an action-filled plot with tons of plotting and intrigue. I have to admit that this kind of "castle intrigue" is definitely one of my favorite genres of novels. I'd very much recommend this to fans of George R.R. Martin and Guy Gavriel Kay.
My edition came with blurbs from Robert Jordan & Dennis McKiernan, and an ad for the latest Weis & Hickman - all of which, I must admit, I eyed with trepidation, not having an overly high opinion of any of those authors - but although this is undeniably epic fantasy, Bujold's writing far exceeds those other authors. I read the first chapter on my way to work - and after just that one chapter, the main character stayed in my head all day - I couldn't wait to read more. And today at work, I must admit, I had the book at my desk, sneaking a page here and there at opportune moments.... wink.gif
Cazaril, a high-born military man who, through an act of treachery, was sold as a galley slave, has finally escaped - but barely with his life. He comes crawling back to the great house where he was employed in his youth - and, unexpectedly, finds himself in the position of tutor to a young princess, Iselle, and her handmaiden Betriz. This seemingly peaceful job may entail more than one might expect, however, considering the chaotic state of politics both within and without the kingdom of Chalion - and an evil curse that hangs over the royal family.
This was the book I chose to introduce the other women in my book club to "that fantasy genre." Sadly, only one of them finished it. On the other hand, I quickly made it through the entire trilogy.
I chose it as a good introduction to fantasy because of it's essentially all-human cast, minimal use of magic, and because it is a rarity among the fantasy genre: the story is essentially told in just one book.
I thought that this book was the best of the Chalion trilogy. The characters were well drawn. The world building was unique enough without being overdone. The plot had a good pace, the suspense was spot on, and it was genuinely interesting overall.
I really enjoyed this book. For anyone who has any inclination towards the fantasy genre at all (my book club excluded, of course) then you will find this book to be a rewarding read.
Wonderful story with great, human characters. Absolutely love Bujolds writing style - she is an experienced and talented storyteller. Loved the backround, especially the unique religion. I can't wait to read the second book Paladin of Souls.
Just finished this book and loved it! Have never read Lois Bujold before, so was pleased to discover another great author. Excellent characters and character development, original story. Couldn't put it down.
Excellent book, wonderful series. There is strength in the characters and many lessons to be considered. A book that allows me to reconsider much of what I personally believe...and challenges me to dig deeper.
Excellently written, moving, and well plotted. Hard to put down! I have read very few fantasy genre novels that felt entirely real. This was one which felt so genuine it could have been an imagining of a true historical account. Makes my best reads list!
This is what I consider Gateway Fantasy - no dragons, elves, wizards, orcs, etc. It has a curse, a demon, and five gods, all within a world of Bujold's creation, but mostly the book is about politics and religion with a bit of romance thrown in.
This story kind of snuck up on me. The first few chapters were ho hum, and for a while I was considering ditching the book. I don't even know what point it was that I stopped thinking about whether the book was worth my time and just started enjoying it. The somewhat boring setup all comes into play later in the book rather brilliantly, so I felt my patience (such as it was) was well rewarded.
Despite all the intrigue and deaths and somberness, I laughed out loud several times. Bujold hit just the right balance, I think.
Janet M. reviewed The Curse of Chalion (Curse of Chalion, Bk 1) on
I absolutely LOVE this book. The copy I received from PBS was my third copy of the book as I lent one out that never returned, and reread another until it fell apart(after my teenage kids also read and reread it). This is definitely on my "desert island list." The characters are fully fleshed out, deal well with tragedy, and are very funny in a dry fashion. Interestingly, I also feel I got a good insight into Providence, despite the made-up nature of the 5-gods theology!
I have previously enjoyed the first few Vorkosigan novels by Bujold, but for me, Curse of Chalion has those beat (probably because I prefer fantasy to science fiction). This is a tight story with depth and seriousness. Like the Vorkosigan books, political relationships and entanglements are important to the plot. Also like the Vorkosigan books, the characters are interesting, unusual and engaging. Chalion's characters are recognizable yet still original and unpredictable. They grow and change over the course of the story.
I am disappointed that the next book in the series isnt told from Cazarils point of view, and Im not sure I even want to read Paladin of Souls because of this change, lest it interfere with my fond memory of this novel. However, I am thinking I'll check out the next adventure in the 'Miles' series soon, as 'The Curse of Chalion' reminded me what great page-turners Bujold's books are.
This is such a good book. Great characters, great world-building, lots of action, fast-paced political intrigue...I could go on...gods, demons, ghosts, heroes and fair maidens, romance, theology.
Cazaril is such a good character you feel like you know him after only a few paragraphs. The concept of real incontrovertible gods is introduced in the first few pages as well. That must be an interesting world to live in.
Bujold has always been one of my favorite writers with her SF Vorkosigan series. This fantasy book may be my new favorite.