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The Paladin

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  912 ratings  ·  53 reviews
The Lord Saukendar, Imperial sword master and stalwart supporter of the Emperor is betrayed, falsely accused of an affair with his childhood sweetheart Lady Meiya, now the Emperor's wife. Meiya is dead, and hostile forces have command of the Emperor's regency. Wounded, desperate and cut off from his supporters, Saukendar runs for the border.

In a homemade cabin high in the...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 11th 1990 by Mandarin (first published January 1st 1988)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,469)
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Mike (the Paladin)
I wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't.

All I'll say here is, I don't exactly feel flattered by Cherryh's view of "men" in general. The old "paladin" spends half the book considering forcing the heroine to have sex with him...for her own good of course.. Sheesh. Talk about a really tired stereotype. I suppose the constant idiocy of the male character in this novel is to show the female character's struggle to be taken as an equal, but it just doesn't work. Well, it doesn't work unless y...more
I'm of two minds about C.J. Cherryh's The Paladin. It starts out promisingly, with the peasant girl Taizu arriving at the mountain hideaway of Saukendar, exiled swordmaster, and begging him to teach her to fight. Unwillingly, he accepts her as a pupil, and the first half of the book explores the training and their growing relationship. I found this section entirely engrossing. It's all from Saukendar's point of view, and it's fascinating to watch him reluctantly grow to accept and even care for...more
I forced myself to finish this one because it counts for my WWE Women of Genre Fiction challenge, but I wasn't very happy about it. This isn't a great introduction to C.J. Cherryh's work, I think: it's a standalone fantasy-ish alternate history-ish story, which would normally be right up my alley. It's even a break from the medieval European fantasy that gluts the genre, based on Chinese culture and history (so far as I can tell). It has a strong female protagonist who becomes a swordswoman. And...more
Michael Pearce
Looking for a night in shining armor, a paragon of virtue and flawless character? An untarnished hero who is a beacon of light standing against the darkness? Look somewhere else.

In a nutshell we have the main character, and exiled sword master from a china-like fantasy kingdom. A peasant girl whose family have been casualties of the political strife in his former kingdom comes to him and demands that he train her so that she can revenge herself on the Lord responsible. I don't think that it's re...more
Rachel Brown
An intense but fun novel about a young woman in a Japan-ish fantasyland and her relationship with the retired swordsman who reluctantly trains her. Nowhere near as cliched as you might imagine, and full of marvelous training sequences. Not a fantasy except in the sense of taking place in a country that doesn't exist.
This fantasy novel is set in a world that is very clearly inspired by East Asian culture and history. It is the story of Shoka, an exiled member of the nobility and master swordsman, and Taizu, the young girl who shows up at his mountain retreat. Scarred mentally and physically by the political turmoil and violence of the outside world, she convinces Shoka to teach her so that she can take revenge against those who destroyed her home and her formerly peaceful life. Shoka initially resists the id...more
Cherryh is one of my favourite authors, and this is one of my favourites of her (many) books.

In some ways it's not a typical Cherryh book, as some of the usual characteristics of her style are absent or muted: most noticeably there's far less emphasis than usual on the internal thought processes of the protagonists. Most of her books could never be described as action-oriented - even the more recent volumes in the Foreigner series, which have tended towards more excitement, are still built aroun...more
As much as I love Cherryh's science fiction, my favorite books by her are the Rusalka series. This book feels a lot like those, although perhaps not nearly as stellar.

In addition to the world-building (a semi-China or Japan) and the general feel of the book, what I liked the most was the way Cherryh chose to use the problematic guy as the protagonist. It would have been oh so easy to write this story from the point of view of the young girl, but instead, we follow the less sympathetic man, who s...more
Nov 15, 2009 Jenne rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenne by: Jo Walton at (check out her reviews--they are brilliant)
Okay. For the first two thirds or so, this was a full-on five-star book. It was a completely awesome story of a reclusive master swordsman who lives on a mountain in the middle of nowhere, and this girl who comes and insists he train her.
Totally great. I love an apprentice story, which is basically a makeover story (and I have probably said before that I LOVE makeover stories), and the characters were interesting and behaved like normal, stupid people.
AND THEN, just when things are getting good...more
David Friedman
I like Cherryh, and I think this is her best book. It isn't exactly a fantasy, since there is no magic, although the male protagonist uses other people's belief in magic, as he uses every other tool he can find. It isn't exactly a historical novel, since the author has created her own map and society based on some mix of Chinese and Japanese.

The male protagonist is a brilliant, bitter man who has surrendered long ago—gone into exile to get out of a corrupt political struggle which he cannot win...more
Jonathan Madison
I found the book to be slow, it was a real struggle to finish the book. Not fantasy, just a "historical fiction" set in a fictional world. The author's view point on men in general made the book tough to swallow. I'm all for realistic characters, but the old warrior just ended up being very one dimensional.
A solid effort from Cherryh. It was both gripping and pleasingly character-focused, and I felt that the obvious Asian influences on the setting were handled with respect. The first half was, I think, stronger than the second half, which felt rushed in comparison, but it was a satisfying read none the less.
I really like this book. The first half is amazing but the second half hares off on a political maneuvering/war thing that wasn't near as interesting. When I reread it, I usually skim the second half.
Murray Writtle
A stand alone novel unrelated to any of Cherryh's others. A classic rif on the unwilling swordmaster dragged back into the world by a determined disciple.
While classified as 'fantasy', its more in line with historical fiction modeled after Asian culture. The major focus is one the relationship between the 2 protagonists, with no real action happening until the last third of the book. While well-written with good characterization, there is a dearth of detail about the world outside of the mountain hut where the book primarily takes place. The words "richly detailed", "expansive", and "complex" don't apply at all to this novel.

After reading the wor...more
Jim Mcclanahan
Feb 18, 2011 Jim Mcclanahan rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by:
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I blush to admit it, but I was thinking Andre Norton and her usual coming-of-age female protagonists when I grabbed this book off the “new book” shelf at the library (which is where the librarians put various books on display, whether they are new or not). Consequently, I was a bit surprised as I got into the book about the slightly risqué relationship between the two major figures. To tell the truth, it had been so long since I had read any of Cherryh’s other books (the only one I could think o...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Paladin is... not really the book I wanted it to be.

My previous exposure to Cherryh has been some of the Foreigner and Alliance/Union books, which I enjoyed; I've never read her fantasy. I had a feeling this wasn't going to be dark SF, but I didn't know what to expect. It turns out to be a no-magic fantasy set in a vaguely Chinese secondary world in which a girl, Taizu, is seeking revenge on a local warlord and is hoping to be trained by Shoka, who was the greatest court swordsman of his day...more
I picked up this book on the strength of the author, Cherryh. I usually like her strong narratives, sympathetic and mostly believable characters, and fun imagination. I guess everyone is entitled to a dud or two.

Unfortunately, this book is not one of her better efforts. She restricts herself to something like historical fiction -- no magic, no supernatural, no improbable hypothesis. And, it actually makes a civil war seem boring. She is also experimenting with a stream-of-conscious narrative. Ge...more
Ashley Honecker
Enter a world where Emperor's reign and justice is the gleam of a well-honed blade. In an alternate land of ancient china, the Empire of Chiyadan has fallen to ruin...mercenaries run amok, villages burned to the ground, and the land is dominated by a cruel regent. In all of this, Saukendar (a.k.a. Shoka), one of the greatest swordsman the Empire has ever known, dwells in exile on a lonely mountain top. Until the day, that is, a young stranger enters his midst, pleading with him to pass on the sk...more
Patricia  Scholes
Because of the cover of the book, I expected the paladin to be the female in the story. It is not. From the beginning it is the male character, which I found disappointing. Furthermore, the two characters to not resolve their differences quite the way I hoped.

The story itself is great. CJ Cherryh is an excellent story-teller. I have never been disappointed in her ability to spin a yarn.

The book was written back in the 80s when women were just beginning to come into their own as forceful leader...more
Saukendar ha vivido en soledad desde que una conspiración orquestada por el Señor Ghita lo obligó a huir de la capital imperial, dejando atrás todo lo que conocía.
Taizu, una joven campesina acude en su busca para que la ayude en su venganza. Espera encontrar al héroe sobre el que cantan las baladas y sobre el que se cuentan historias de heroísmo, de valentía y probidad. Pero lo que en realidad encuentra es un hombre cansado y desengañado, que no quiere ayudarla.
Taizu, testaruda consigue que Shok...more
I really wasn't expecting to give a sword-heavy book five stars, but Cherryh has made me a fan all over again.

The usual line would be tough guy gets tough girl with a lot of adventure along the way; and that is the basic story line, I suppose. But I couldn't put this one down. The tension and process of coming to an accommodation with another human in order to share a life is described with a perfect trueness. There is attention to life detail that makes these characters real, and the story more...more
I reread this book because I really liked the first part, and didn't understand/remember the second part. It's about a girl in a fantasy China during a period of imperial unrest who searches out a master swordsman so she can take her revenge on the warlord who caused her family's death. However, it is told from the point of view of the master swordsman. There's a great training sequence in the beginning, then as they go off to fight she mostly is staring mutely at him as his conscience. It's an...more
I thought I was through with this author. The last few books I've read by her
were disappointing. I picked this up with the idea that I would read a few chapters
and toss it in the rejects bin. But, surprise, it was pretty good.

I selected this book for a mainstream reading group I belonged to, because there was nothing technical or fantastical about it. In fact, the only thing that qualifies it as speculative fiction is that it is set in an alternate oriental world from the one on our planet.

Even so, there were people in my mainstream reading group who would not even try to read it--to their loss. As with all of Cherryh's work, the culture is well-developed, the setting is vividly described, and the story is intriguing...more
Surprisingly awesome. I shouldn't be surprised. CJ Cherryh is a favorite author. I picked up the copy with a woman's face on the cover, judged it partially by the cover, and my judgment was wrong, wrong, wrong. I grew to like both the main characters very much and thoroughly enjoyed the way CJ developed them. Both were believable and I would love to sit down and talk with the narrative character!
I read this after I voted for it in the SciFi and Fantasy Book Club poll for December, it looks like it doesn't have much chance of being picked and I a huge fan of CJ Cherryh, Asian culture and ancient warfare. This book didn't disappoint, it really could have been split into two books the first a master/apprentice tale and the second an action packed war story. I'd recommend this book highly to fans of The Tales of the Otori series by Lian Hearn.
A refreshing setting and wonderfully prickly heroine cannot save The Paladin from the cripplingly flawed and completely unaddressed power dynamic between Taizu and Shoka as a couple. Let me put it this way- Shoka, Taizu’s master in the ways of combat, considers raping Taizu, his student, towards the beginning to cure her of her devotion to her vow of revenge. My heroes don’t consider raping their heroines. Start with C. J. Cherryh elsewhere.
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Currently resident in Spokane, Washington, C.J. Cherryh has won four Hugos and is one of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed authors in the science fiction and fantasy field. She is the author of more than forty novels. Her hobbies include travel, photography, reef culture, Mariners baseball, and, a late passion, figure skating: she intends to compete in the adult USFSA track. She began...more
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