Sunday, January 14, 2007

Paladin of Souls, L.M. Bujold

Written by Lois McMaster Bujold and published in 2003, Paladin of Souls is second in a trilogy. In the previous novel, Curse of Chalion, Ista was the half insane, God touched yet cursed mother of Royina Iselle. Time has moved on a little since then; both Betriz and Cazaril and Iselle and Bergon have young children.

If most of your life roles have been taken away from you- what is left? Your husband is dead, one of your children is dead, your parents are dead, one of your siblings is dead & you're no longer mentally ill, who are you? This is Ista's conundrum. Now forty, she is trapped in the dual roles of Royina Iselle's mother and of mentally unstable invalid. Therefore, she has no privacy, no choice in her daily routines- basically Ista is viewed as an invalid.Even a young child has more freedom and choice than Ista does. But Ista isn't crazy anymore. How can she find enough freedom to become her own woman for the first and probably only time of her life? This is likely to be her only chance.

Ista contrives to begin a pilgrimage, conceived and begun with the sole intention of not returning to her 'keepers.' Many things happen to her along the route- a former courier becomes a lady's maid, a Learned who is not what he seems to be, becoming a political hostage, two men held hostage by nefarious means because of a young woman's desperate and immoral need. Seige, demons and esoteric theology abound. Can Ista become her own woman at long last, at the ripe old age of forty? Will the border fort of Porifors survive the invaders' onslaught? Will Ista at last be allowed to choose her own path? And can she find happiness and contentment and purpose and a partner to share it with?

This novel was a Hugo award winner. I enjoyed it tremendously, there are a distinct tones of woman's fiction & adventure romance and epic fantasy in this novel. BTW, for those of you who keep track of such things- the cover art accurately depicts Ista as she is described in the book, including her clothing. IMO Paladin of Souls is a multigenre novel worthy of attention. The third bookof this series is The Hallowed Hunt and is currently available. Keeper.

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