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The Curse of the Chalon, by Lois McMaster Bujold.

March 1, 2015

The Curse of the Chalon, by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Harper Torch, 2002.  Paperback.

4 stars

An enjoyable fantasy with plenty of intriguing characters; villain and heroes, strong women, and unlikely saints.

Cazaril is a solider, beaten down by war and his own enslavement. Returning home, he is made the secretary and tutor of Iselle, a young women who is the sister to the heir to the Chalon throne. She is threatened by those who would use her to seize power. She and the rest of the royal family also carry a curse that will ravage and destroy each of them. Cazaril’s job is to protect her from treachery and treason and to find a way to end the curse.

The world of Chalon is rather like that of most readers, with a medieval touch in its dress, warfare and castles. Its politics and religions are unusual, but not its people. Gender roles are not extreme, but several of the women are very bright and willing to be leaders alongside the men. “The gods” are powerful, but are limited by the fact that can only act through human agents.

Lois McMaster Bujold is a popular and prolific writer, one that has won many awards in the fields of speculative and fantasy writing. The Curse of the Chalon is a stand-alone novel, the first of three related books. The second of this series, Palatin of the Soul, contains spoilers for the first novel, but the third, The Hallowed Hunt, is a prequel and does not. Looking at her website, I feel like I have opened a treasure trove of future light reading.

The Curse of Chalion was not written to be a deep book. It is full of action and intrigue.  Yet it is both entertaining and wise in its portrayal of people seeking to live honorable and useful lives. The gods are not overbearing, and the supernatural elements in the book can appeal to readers whether or not they believe in deities. The book is a fantasy that will be enjoyed by young adult readers and also older ones who enjoy fantasy.  Assuming this book is similar to Bujold’s other ones, I gladly recommend them to readers.

Thanks to Eva @ astripedarmchair for introducing me to Bujold.

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