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The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods (Publication) #1)

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  23,685 Ratings  ·  1,627 Reviews
A man broken in body and spirit, Cazaril returns to the noble household he once served as page and is named secretary-tutor to the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is next in line to rule. It is an assignment Cazaril dreads, for it must ultimately lead him to the place he most fears: the royal court of Cardegoss, where the powerful enemies who once ...more
ebook, 448 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Harper Voyager (first published December 2000)
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Dan Gunderson There isn't much *explicit* romantic activity, I think it's fair to say that. That stuff largely goes on "off-screen," so to speak. But romance is…moreThere isn't much *explicit* romantic activity, I think it's fair to say that. That stuff largely goes on "off-screen," so to speak. But romance is actually a pretty significant component of the story itself. Arranged marriages in loveless relationships, unrequited love, diplomatic marriage, extramarital exploits -- all of those things play a part in the plot. And naturally, there's a significant potential romance for the main character, that holds you in anticipation until the end of the book.(less)
Dan Gunderson It's Book 2 in the series' internal chronology, but it was the first one written. Kind of like how "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" was the…moreIt's Book 2 in the series' internal chronology, but it was the first one written. Kind of like how "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" was the first Narnia book written, but is the second book in the internal chronology of that series.(less)
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Community Reviews

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mark monday
Dec 20, 2011 mark monday rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantastickal
when i was younger, i was always confused by the moniker of "Adult Fantasy" (less used today, but more common decades ago). i assumed it meant Sexy Sextime and possibly Ultra-Violence, but that was never the case... what it ended up meaning to me was BORING, I Can't Finish This.

well now that i am clearly an adult, i get it. for example, Curse of Chalion. this is definitely an Adult Fantasy. it does not feature sex - if anything, it is rather pleasingly old-fashioned and discreet about sex. and i
Jun 15, 2008 Guy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny thing: halfway through this book I found myself thinking about what it is that makes Bujold's writing so distinctive in the world of science fiction and fantasy (she's another one of these writers who straddles both worlds), and it suddenly came to me that she was like Jane Austen, interested most of all in people and their relationships in constraint-ridden societies. After finishing the book I glance idly at the "About the Author" blurb on the inside back jacket and it says that people o ...more
Jun 11, 2011 Kay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those thrown to the whims of fate
It's hard reviewing books that I really like, especially when I don’t really have a systemic way to determine whether or not a book deserves a five star rating (i.e., the I-want-to-sing-and-gush rating).

So, I thought, what the hey. Let me start this review from the point in time when I first realized that this book was a WIN. And this particular review that was written by a mind that was blown starts out with a sob story:

Last week one morning, I woke up with my face feeling stuffed and itchy, e
The first time I read this, I was torn between my respect for Bujold and the slow burning plot of this first fantasy I had ever read by her. It didn't hurt that it was nominated for the Hugo, as she had been nominated over and over, winning several for her classic SF series, but I was like, "What? Fantasy? But she's so excellent with SF, why switch?" And then when I started reading it, there were none of the fast-paced elements or larger than life characters that I expected.

In fact, other than t
Sep 23, 2012 Mpauli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre_fantasy
Fantasy books these days are often rough. They swear, they rape, they mutilate and pillage. They are dark or grimdark or "realistic". I like this trend a lot, but once in a while there comes a book that is none of that.

Enter "The Curse of the Chalion". This book is polite. It's quiet and beautiful, perhaps sophisticated sometimes. It tells a great story and has a very relatable and likeable main protagonist.

Cazaril, our main character and only view point perspective, is 35. In the course of the
May 18, 2011 Carol. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really three and a half stars. A slow start for me, but sometimes good stories take a while to build, and by the end, I couldn't put it down.

There is an interesting mix of characters, somewhat archetypical but done well enough that they developed uniqueness. A feudal system, a failing monarch, an unscrupulous chancellor, a strong-minded but elderly female ruler, young heirs running wild, but all with twists that give them individuality. I do appreciate the hero, Cazaril, being developed more al
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 12, 2010 Mike (the Paladin) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I am myself surprised at how much I liked this book. Generally I prefer books that are plot driven. Now and then however a wonderful book comes along built on the characters within.This is definitely a character driven story.

There is about this story (much of the way) a melancholy feel of the inevitable doomed hero moving inexorably toward his fate... to go on here about whether said hero meets said fate and so on would constitute (of course) THE spoiler of all spoilers. Let me say however that
“Well, what is a blessing but a curse from another point of view?”
I’ve been reading fantasy for a long time, however The Curse of Chalion revealed a new variation of the genre for me, which I loved. Here we don’t get to know a fantastical world, action-packed adventure with strange and out of our experience characters. It reminded me of a medieval world with power struggles not unheard of, but at the same time ultimately unique. It’s profound in that it doesn’t pretend to be more than it is,
May 12, 2014 Conor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 stars.

This is a well-written story filled with politics, adventures, blessings and magic. The main plot was straightforward and enjoyable although the prominence of gods and curses undermined the importance of the characters while making the political machinations seem somewhat trivial. The real strength of this book was in it's protagonist Cazaril. A decorated soldier, his betrayal and imprisonment left him a shattered husk at the beginning of this novel. More than a story of war and polit
Oct 05, 2011 Apatt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-top20
“I need words that mean more than they mean, words not just with height and width, but depth and weight and, and other dimensions that I cannot even name.” *

That is Lois McMaster Bujold effortlessly describing what I often feel about excellent writing but lack the skill to articulate. What I like best about starting a Bujold book is that feeling of homecoming. I know that I will like the prose, I know that the characters will be interesting and believable, I don't know if I will like her plot be
May 08, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
A highly satisfying and timeless tale of a broken hero’s recovery. Those who expect a typical sword-and-sorcery fantasy from the title or cover will be disappointed. Fans of Bujold’s sci fi Vorkosigan Saga should feel right at home with the strengths evident here: character development, world building, complex enemies, great dialogue, understated romance, and limited but well-framed episodes of violence.

In a Medieval setting of competing kingdoms, the nobleman Cazaril served Chalion well in one
Last Monday I bought a house. Since then I haven't read a single page of a book, or written a single word of a review.

I have, however, stripped a lot of wallpaper, painted skirting boards and ceilings, planed and re-hung six doors, packed, carried and unpacked an awful lot of boxes, built a couple of beds, a cot and a bookcase, battled cats into cages and entertained a toddler.

This has nothing to do with Curse of Chalion, but having read a lot of Bujold's work and got a feel for how she thinks
Megan Baxter
Nov 30, 2014 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I realized something as I was reading this book. Many fantasy books, when they involve any kind of court culture, have as their viewpoint character someone who doesn't know how it works, and blunders around until he or she figures it out. It's relatively rare to have the main character be someone who does know exactly how things work. Cazaril, the main character, is such a man. He isn't a quintessential courtier by any means, but he knows how things work.

Note: The rest of this review has been wi
Tom Merritt
Jul 28, 2013 Tom Merritt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a delightful world. The work that went into researching medieval Spain sows, as does theincrediblemimagination that went into turning the story into its own consistent telling rather than just a metaphor. Now layer on top of that a deep theological debate nested in an other-worldly system where the debate is not between monotheistic beliefs and their prophets, but polytheistic beliefs and the acceptance or rejection of a lucifer-like god as a force for good or ill. Top it all off with stron ...more
Andreea Daia
I loved this book so much and for so many reasons that I wish there was a 6-star rating. I happened to listen to an audio version of this novel, but I am considering reading it too just to take it apart and analyze under the microscope the writing style. Why? Because Ms. Lois McMaster Bujold's technique is probably as close to artistry as modern writing gets!

Let me start by saying that I read several reviews (possible some of them were from Amazon) stating that the novel is too long and it shoul
Executive Summary: It took me a little bit to warm up to, but in the end I found this an enjoyable read.

Full Review
I read this as the August pick for Sword & Laser. Despite considering myself more Sword than Laser (or maybe because I do?), I think overall I've been mostly disappointed with the Sword picks, especially the last two.

This one however, did not disapoint. It starts a bit slow. The pacing reminded me a bit of Assassin's Apprentice, so you if you enjoyed those books, you may enjoy
Pauline Ross
I don’t know what anyone else looks for in their fantasy, but for me the number one requirement is characters I care about. This is hard to define, of course; I can’t describe what it is that creates emotional engagement in that way (if I could, I’d bottle it and sell it), but I know it when I see it.

And Cazaril is it, indubitably and without question. From the moment he walks onstage in his rags on page 1, he is a man I care deeply about, someone I’m rooting for all the way. He’s not great hero
Jun 18, 2007 Eh?Eh! rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: babble-added, weep
This is a book I can pick up over and over again. It never gets did she do it? Reasons I love this series:

1. The religion has 5 deities: Daughter, Mother, Son, Father, and Bastard. The Bastard! How great is that? They each have their special areas of godliness but the Bastard is like the thumb, able to touch and balance all the others. In a way, the Bastard is the most powerful. Yeah! (Note: Me being tickled by there being a Bastard god does not mean I am a bastard*)

2. She writes so th
Laura (Kyahgirl)
4/5; 4 stars; A-

This is great fantasy writing. I loved the character Caz. He starts out the story in a state of utter destruction. He is so damaged and sick and heart sore, yet at the same time brilliant and courageous and strong. Just the kind of main character I can really get behind. Under his tutelage his royal charge, Iselle, grows into her role and really shines.

Another thing I liked about this book was the Five Gods themselves. The theology of this fantasy world is interesting.

One of th
Sep 26, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful fantasy, definitely different than the normal run. A unique theology & take on it is the backbone of the tale, so it's far more than just another hero hacking his way through the bad guys. In fact, if that's what you're looking for, read a different book. This one has complex politics, a semi-broken hero, romance, horror, & far more.

This broken hero is different than Miles from her Vorkosigan series in many ways, but if you like those SF yarns, you'll probably like t
Brianne Reeves
Jun 24, 2015 Brianne Reeves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I really really liked this. It was entertaining, with some serious intrigue. Action, but not too much, well paced.
aPriL does feral sometimes
This is a popular novel that was first published in 2001, and here on GR there are over 11,000 reviews ratings of this edition, many quite cool to read. What can I possibly add? So, this will primarily be for my book diary use.

The main character, Lupe dy Cazaril, is slowly returning home by foot. While helping to fight yet another war for the aristocratic rulers of Baocia against the Roknari, he was betrayed and sold into slavery by a Baocia family member of high birth and power because he witne
Jun 30, 2008 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I read this book, I couldn't help but draw parallels with it to a non-fiction book I read recently called "Dogs of God," about the Spanish Reconquista in the 1490s.

There exists a young, pious but pragmatic princess of a landlocked high-medieval Hispanic nation, living in a remote countryside retreat. Her younger brother desperately wants to become King, but his immaturity and impatience leads him to make disastrous decisions and eventually take his life. The princess's older half-brother is t
Jan 25, 2017 Kaitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is exactly the sort of fantasy I love. Slow to build, but full of great ideas and fantastic world and character development. At times it reminded me a bit of Hobb's writing style (this is very high praise from me) and I really enjoyed being able to follow a character who was 35 rather than a typical 'farmboy' etc. (although we all know I love a good farmboy story too)

This book focuses around Cazeril, a man who has had one hell of a life. Cazeril is a war veteran at the age of just 35. He's
The Curse of Chalion is the story of a noble, broken man who has just managed to escape from slavery. Once a soldier and a lord, Cazaril is now almost to the end of his rope, destitute, friendless, and betrayed. The first part of the book is the story of how he rebuilds his life, and how his sense of honor brings him to continue giving his life and loyalty to Chalion even when he feels he has nothing left to give.

It's a slow start - I didn't see what the point of it all was for quite a while. Ca
Maggie K
May 20, 2011 Maggie K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mytheopeic
What a wonderful gem!
I don't usually care a lot for the standard epic fantasies--I like a little grit and realism mixed in--but this book was a definite treat!

Cazaril has been a slave since being captured during a battle, and not ransomed. He was able to find out that his name had been kept off the list of POWs, and thus realizes the blame is not with his royal house, but rather the man who is now chancellor. So instead of heading to the capitol, he returns to the province where he originally wo
If I fail my French test this week, I'll know who to hold responsible, LOIS!*

(At certain moments, I'm on a first name basis with everyone.)

Dec 28, 2016 KostasAt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, epic-fantasy

Except from the three small novellas of Miles Vorgosigan’s adventures ( The Mountains Of Mourning , Labyrinth and The Borders of Infinity ) I hadn’t had the chance before to read some of Bujold’s novels until today. However, what I remember from the first time I read these novellas is how much I liked her writing style. And so, as a Fantasy lover, I couldn’t help but start my adventures to her works with The Curse of Chalion and, as I read it, I must say that she has managed not only to
Oct 22, 2011 Candace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Candace by: Fantasy book club
I loved this book. Here's why:

1. Court Intrigue - No one says what they mean. People will do anything to gain the favor of the people of a higher rank than them. There are a ton of rules of etiquette that must be followed. All of the above gives an author so many opportunities (with both subtle and not so subtle humour) to show the various shades of human nature. Bujold was an absolute master with both the characters who set out to master all things courtly and even better at showing the people
Nov 18, 2007 Tina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff-fantasy
I must admit I am guilty of typecasting Ms. Bujold. I am a hardcore and dedicated fan of her Vorkosigan series so I was a bit skeptical about this new, non-Miles book. I had a weird sense of displacement as I began to read it. It took a chapter or two to stop it, but I couldn't help trying to find Miles somewhere in there.

Miles isn't there but the elegant writing and exquisite prose that are a hallmark of Ms. Bujold most certainly are. While the plot of this book is not groundbreaking or even pa
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Lois McMaster Bujold was born in 1949, the daughter of an engineering professor at Ohio State University, from whom she picked up her early interest in science fiction. She now lives in Minneapolis, and has two grown children.

Her fantasy from HarperCollins includes the award-winning Chalion series and the Sharing Knife tetralogy; her science fiction from Baen Books features the perennially bestse
More about Lois McMaster Bujold...

Other Books in the Series

World of the Five Gods (Publication) (3 books)
  • Paladin of Souls (World of the Five Gods, #2)
  • The Hallowed Hunt (World of the Five Gods, #3)

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“Ignorance is not stupidity, but it might as well be. And I do not like feeling stupid.” 81 likes
“Events may be horrible or inescapable. Men have always a choice - if not whether, then how, they may endure.” 79 likes
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