Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Curse of Chalion; L.M. Bujold

Written by Lois McMaster Bujold (author of the Vorkosigan series) and published by Harper in 2001. This is an epic high fantasy. The first in a trilogy set in the mythical land of Chalion which seems to be roughly analogous to Spain and the Mediterranean. Political intrigue, vengeance, fate, religion madness, possession and sainthood meld into a page turning saga par excellence.

Cazaril, a thirty five year old former aristocrat betrayed into slavery, has managed to return to the well born family where he was fostered to beg a job. Any job. Due to his facility with languages and the politics of the country the family matriarch creates a secretary/tutor position for Cazaril. The young lady under his charge is second in line for the throne of Chalion. A terrible series of events left Iselle’s mother a young widow, her children at the mercy of the king (Iselle's older half brother). Therefore Iselle has been groomed and trained for a strategic and political alliance that will have the maximum benefit for her kingdom.

The problems in the capitol are manifold though. Why is the king so ill? What has prompted him to cede so much control to the chancellor? Why is the queen frozen and isolated? Can Cazaril navigate the treacherous political waters and ensure both his survival and that of his charges?

On top of all that, the gods have bestowed a terrifying fate upon both Cazaril and the royal house of Chalion. Somehow, some way,a path satisfying both the gods requirements and ensuring the future viability of all involved has to be found. It is up to Cazaril. Can he accomplish it all and survive? Oh and BTW- what about his personal happiness? Will the gods eventually have mercy on him and provide a means to a peaceful and secure livelihood? Or is he doomed? And Betriz? Shall her prayers too be answered?

The Curse of Chalion is tightly plotted and fast paced. Deep world building. Asks quite a few thoughtful questions. Which is what I expected of an author of Ms. Bujold’s caliber. The romance reader in me wishes some elements had been fleshed out a little more, but really- CoC is wonderful as it is. The Paladin of Souls is the second in this group and is currently available. Keeper.


Rosario said...

I've been about to start this one like 10 times, but something always holds me back. I'm going to have to just do it!

CindyS said...

I have Shards of Honor that I keep looking at because I've heard so much about Miles - I just know it's not genre romance.

Man, at this rate, I'll never read all the books I own!


Mailyn said...

Oh I've been hearing of this for a while. I should try it.

Bookwormom said...

Hi ladies~ I really enjoyed CoC & plan to keep it. It's very different from the Miles series, but Ms. Bujold's superb world building definitely shows.

jmc said...

I love CoC, and I've pimped it to many, many people, including the BIL and all over the blogosphere.

PoS is excellent, too, but in a different way. It's kind of an adventure book with some romance (a bit more than Caz & Betriz, at least) and some womens fiction-y issues, since it is about the dowager queen Ista figuring out what to do with herself.

Have you put LMB's Beguilement on your wishlist? It is very much a romance, IMO.

Bookwormom said...

jmc~ I've just finished PoS & loved it too. I plan to write up my thoughts in the next couple of days. I picked Beguilement up from the library yesterday but haven't started it yet.