The Curse of Chalion

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9780007133611: The Curse of Chalion

Lois McMaster Bujold has won the Hugo award four times, and the Nebula award twice. In this, her first epic fantasy, we join Cazaril – a former soldier, and courtier who is about to embark on a perilous journey, rife with lethal treacheries, demonic magic, and scheming characters.

Lord Cazaril has been in turn courier, courtier, castle-warder, and captain; now he is but a crippled ex-galley slave seeking nothing more than a menial job in the kitchens of the Dowager Provincara, the noble patroness of his youth. But Fortunes wheel continues to turn for Cazaril, and he finds himself promoted immediately to the exalted and dangerous position of secretary-tutor to the Iselle, the beautiful, fiery sister of the heir to Chalion’s throne.

Amidst the decaying splendour and poisonous intrigue of Chalion’s ancient capital, Cardegoss, Cazaril is forced to encounter both old enemies and surprising allies, as he seeks to lift the curse of misfortune that clings to the royal family of Chalion, and to all who come too close to them…

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Product Description:

Lois McMaster Bujold has won the Hugo award four times, and the Nebula award twice. In this, her first epic fantasy, we join Cazaril -- a former soldier, and courtier who is about to embark on a perilous journey, rife with lethal treacheries, demonic magic, and scheming characters.

Review:

In The Curse of Chalion Lois McMaster Bujold abandons her usual military space-opera for good reason; this is an emotionally powerful, inventively plotted novel which needs to be fantasy to work. Cazaril, betrayed by his enemies into a crippling two years in the galleys, returns to court a physical and emotional wreck: appointed secretary-tutor to the young princess Iselle, he finds himself in direct opposition to his powerful betrayers. His preparedness to make the ultimate sacrifice and save Iselle from an unwanted marriage to one of them by a death spell that will kill him also has unforeseen results; he learns the hard way that the gods have plans for him, ingenious and mischievous plans.

Bujold does charm very well--we share Cazaril's sheer joy at mentoring the bright snippy Iselle--and she is also good at physical and emotional pain--Cazaril's sense of himself as broken and worn-out is entirely convincing. This is also a fantasy which includes some inventive thinking about the nature of gods and the consequences of curses; there is a nasty-minded logic to almost everything that happens here. Bujold's fans will read it without recommendation; many readers who have resisted the Vorkosigan books will find this an attractive and intelligent fantasy. --Roz Kaveney

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Bujold, Lois McMaster
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