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Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

Review by Jojo

Minor spoilers

This is the first book by Lois McMaster Bujold I've read, but methinks it won't be the last.

The World
This is a secondary world fantasy, very typically time-period set. The vast majority of our adventures take place in Chalion, though we do duck out of this country into one of her neighbors for a short time. There seem to be two spiritual factions - those who follow the five gods - the Father, The Mother, The Son, The Daughter, The Bastard - or those who follow four, denying the Bastard. Chalion holds the five. The theology is well woven into the story without weighing it down, and it has a fullness that, while I can't quite put into words, I find refreshing, somehow.

The Characters
It is not an unheard of style, to follow only one character's point of view for the entire novel, though it is more often seen in novels with first person point of views. In CoC we stay with Lupe dy Carazil for the entire book and the story does not suffer for this at all. The people closest to him are the Royesse Iselle and her companion, Betriz. Among the supporting cast are Umegat, March dy Pallianor, the brothers dy Jironal, and Iselle's brother and half-brother. All wonderfully delightful, either in their goodness or wickedness as the case may be.

The Plot
We meet up with Carazil at the tail end of his 300 some mile trek back to Valenda from a coastal city. Coming home after many failed compaigns and some other misadventures, he is bone weary and humbled, reduced to rags and coming to beg a boon at the place of his boyhood employment. For the first few hundred pages we learn of his past, his life, and his character. Through him we learn history, geography, politics, and religion. The story is a bit slow to start with, but it takes shape, seizes hold, and drags you along while the gods dabble in the affairs of mortals...

The Grade
This book is a very well rounded, fleshed out, highly enjoyable story. One thing I particularly liked, other than how they handled their gods and religion, which, while isn't entirely original, tying them to the seasons, is something I just really enjoy, was that their naming of .. things. We don't have priests, we have divines. We don't have kings or counts or the like, we have Royas and royesses and all... It was a nice touch.

I highly recommend this book - 4.5 amulets


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