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Paladin of Souls (World of the Five Gods (Publication) #2)

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  16,937 Ratings  ·  855 Reviews
'E-Book Extras: ONE: The Keys to Chalion: A Dictionary of People, Places, and Things; TWO: Chalion Miscellany. It's been three years since the curse was lifted, but Ista dy Baocia, Dowager Royina of Chalion, holds a dark secret: she was responsible for the destruction of Chalion years ago. When her kingdom is threatened once again, Ista must defend her homeland, and her so ...more
ebook, 496 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published September 23rd 2003)
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Jan 15, 2012 Carol. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of epic fantasy, feudal fantasy
Unexpectedly captivating.

I'm a longtime fantasy reader, but I've gotten tired of the current crop of twenty year old heroines, the descriptions of their clothes, their vague struggles with boyfriends, and the development of their special powers. Even if coming-into-one's power storylines are set with werewolves and vampires, a certain uniformity starts to develop. Paladin does something I never expected in an epic fantasy; she's written a thoughtful coming-of-age story focused on a forty-year o
Mar 25, 2013 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2016-shelf
Even though this one is set in the same universe and there are crossover references and characters, this novel is quite different from The Curse of Chalion, in both situation, location, and MC's. Don't let that dissuade you, because this book kicks some serious butt. Literally, for there's even a WAR!

Enter Ista, the dowager mother, considered mad but really just god-ridden, bored and desiring a bit of action on the side. (Get your mind out of the gutter. Yes, she does have some romantic feels, o
Sherwood Smith
I have to admit my partisanship right up front. I am a dedicated fan of the Miles Vorkosigan books and I loved The Curse of Chalion, which serves as a prequel to this book. Though Paladin stands quite well on its own.

The plot is fairly easily summed up: the Royina Ista, a middle-aged widow, decides to go on pilgrimage through the land of Chalion, which feels a lot like a Renaissance alternate-Spain, one that is overseen from the other-worldly realm by five gods, so there are five religious tradi
Updated Review Sept 12, 2015:

I always find it really difficult to review those books that I experience at a gut level and love completely irrationally. This was one of those. I simply enjoyed reading every moment of it, and don't know how to explain why. Now I've put it off for too long, and I'm going to try anyway.

First of all, if you've read The Curse of Chalion, you need to know that the pacing and focus of this book is completely different. That one was epic, full of political intrigue and k
Aug 04, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Carol.
Shelves: fantasy
A totally satisfying vision of a middle-aged woman driven down by past tragedy who takes up the heroic work of making the world safe from the dangers of enslavement of souls. The character of Ista captured my heart with her charm, wit, and courage, as she almost did for the hero Cazaril in the previous book, “Curse of Chalion” (2001). For this feudal world, Bujold invents a lovely blend of Christian dualism with a Roman-style pantheon of five gods, a system within which saints and demon-infested ...more
I was a really big fan of this when I started it. It's an aftermath story of a middle-aged woman, a Mother figure from a previous novel who has already lived through the fire and black magic that lead to the somewhat more typical fantasy-adventure of her daughter's coming of age, marrying the prince, producing an heir and living somewhat happily ever after. This woman, considered mad due to her previous involvement with gods and curses and magic, starts the book not even after those events close ...more

Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my LOCUS FANTASY list.

As the Locus Sci-Fi Award winners list treated me so kindly, I figure I’ll trust those same good folk to pick me some stars in their sister-list, the Locus Fantasy Award winners.

While I was predominantly reading my way through every winne
Apr 15, 2010 Felicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book is an outstanding followup to the first in the series (that I actually read so long ago I didn't quite remember, but it didn't really matter). There are beautiful twists in storytelling here, and a very interesting mature woman character. I found the storytelling refreshing and the characters engaging on a fantasy-level, with a bit of romance (but nothing to turn off guys ;) ). Lois Bujold is an author that transcends genre, definitely check it out!
Sep 23, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Heather by: Joseph
Shelves: favorites
I love this book. I love Ista. I love her sense of humor, and I admire her strength and forbearance. I love watching her warm up and fill up over the course of the book.

I love how the worldbuilding is just so natural and easy, and how complete and interesting it is. I love the theology.

I love how she tackles the themes of redemption, grace, forgiveness, guilt, sin, failure, the relationships of gods with their creations, power and impotence, selfishness, aging, death and dying, finding a sense o
Apr 12, 2017 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love, LOVE the protagonist of this book. She's not a great warrior, or a skillful rogue, or a powerful wizard, or anything like that. She's not even a not-great warrior or a not-powerful wizard who grows more powerful as the story progresses.

She's a middle aged woman who really wants a vacation.

Ista was a fairly minor character in Curse of Chalion, albeit one who was hugely affected by the events of that book. Here, she's been restored to full sanity, and chafing at the restrictions of her (lo
John Patrick Schutz
Jun 22, 2011 John Patrick Schutz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Quite possibly the best fiction I've read in a decade. I was always fond of Lois McMaster Bujold's "Vorkosigan Series" of Science-Fiction books - always rollicking good fun while having deep underlying issues that make the reader remember them long after all the action and humor have faded to the background... but when Bujold decided to turn her hand to grand fantasy she found even more.

The first book of this grouping, "The Curse of Chalion" grabbed me from the first page. As a fan of Tolkein wh
Mar 31, 2017 Kaitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is technically the second book in this series, although it doesn't follow many of the characters from Curse of Chalion with the exception of Ista, the once-mad Royina, who is the main character of this book.

In this story we see that Ista, following the events in Curse of Chalion, doesn't really have any purpose in her life now. Both her children have gone and she's left surrounded by her mother's old court of stuffy and silly ladies quite unlike her. Although she's an older and sometimes b
Executive Summary: A slow-paced but enjoyable fantasy novel that can mostly be read as a stand-alone.

Audio book: This is my first novel read by Kate Reading. I have long heard she is a great narrator, and I would have to agree. She doesn't exactly do voices or anything but she does distinguish a bit between characters. She speaks clearly with good inflections and emotions.

Full Review
Right off the bat this novel is unique for me. The protagonist is a 40-something woman. That's never the case fo
Sep 29, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read (listened to) this out of order, third instead of second. Not a big deal. The events take place soon after the first book, but the third is set centuries earlier, so doesn't impact it at all.

All three books had different readers. The first, told about a man was read by one. This one, about a woman, was read by one who did quite a good job.

Again, Bujold uses a damaged, ravaged soul as the focus of the story, except from the 'privileged' female perspective. Issa was simply a minor, piteous
Feb 04, 2017 Cyndi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought the first book in this series was good, but Holy Bastards, Batman this one was awesome!!! We have a strong heroine who has been thought mad most of her life. Now she has hit middle age and wants to escape the controlling life she has been living. She goes on a pilgrimage, even though she doesn't want anything to do with religion, just wants to shake off the cloying life she's been living.
But, the gods find her anyway and direct her in their paths. I laughed, I cried; it was glorious!
Jan 17, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books of all time. It took me a little while to transition into McMaster Bujold's fantasy novels (coming from her amazing enormous Miles Vorkosigan Sci-Fi series) but once I got into Chalion, I was hooked.

What I like best about McMaster Bujold is that her fantasy heroes (and heroines) are not straw-haired, starry-eyed farmers nor creatures out of myth or legend- she writes about tired adults, beaten down by the daily tragedies of life.

In this, her second book set in the kingdo
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 14, 2010 Mike (the Paladin) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I'm going to say the same thing about this, the second volume of Bujold's Chalion trilogy (I suppose, I've only seen three titles, I have the third as "to read"), I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I do try to reserve the "5 star" rating for books that I truly enjoy. Neither artistic writing, nor classic prose will I rate alone as 5 stars. I just got/get involved in these books. I care about the characters in them and am able to suspend belief and flow with the story.

Of late I've been (I be
May 07, 2016 Ivan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Paladin of Souls je direktan nastavak romana The Curse of Chalion, premda s drugim protagonistom. Odnosno, protagonistkinjom. U neku ruku, ovo je najznačajniji fantazijski roman napisan i objavljen baš u XXI veku. To se vidi i po tome što što je Paladin of Souls dobio Huga, Nebulu i Lokus za 2004, a nominovan je i za Mitopoejsku nagradu. Ovakav agregat nagrada ne viđa se baš toliko često i nema sumnje da je Budžoldova upravo ovim romanom udarila temelj za skorašnje velike uspehe u domenu epske f ...more
Laura (Kyahgirl)
5/5; 5 stars; A+

I read this book years ago and rated it highly but now that I have read The Curse of Chalion and have a better context, this book shines even more brightly.

Ista was a secondary character in The Curse of Chalion. A woman who most regard as somewhat demented. By the end of that book Ista has come out from under the curse but is still wrapped in the loving cocoon/prison of her family and caretakers.

This book is about Ista, finding herself and her purpose, kicking some demon ass, an
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Oct 17, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy Fans
I loved this even more than the first book in this world, The Curse of Chalion--and I loved Chalion a lot, which was my first book by Lois McMaster Bujold. Bujold was well known before these high fantasy works for a science fiction series, the Vorkosigan Saga. And after her fantasy I turned to those and loved them, but Chalion was first, and she wrote there as if high fantasy was her first language. She had a gift for creating a world that didn't feel off the shelf. Her deities feel like they ha ...more
Jun 11, 2014 Marina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes us three years after the events in The Curse of Chalion, where we follow dowager Royina Ista's adventures. Free from her madness, she seeks redemption through a pilgrimage. However, the gods meddle around and lead her to situations that involve ghosts from the past. Figuratively, don't worry.

If you liked all the historical references from the Curse of Chalion, you will get a better picture of the world of Chalion, and a better understanding of the faith aspects as well.

It is also
Oct 12, 2015 Kiwi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This novel started really strong for me. I loved the author’s detailed attention to the main character (Lady Ista) characterization. I liked the idea of pilgrimage as an escape the royal court stiff environment, which is what you’d expect from a spirited mature woman in Middle-ages type setting. My interest waned when the demons turned up and became the focus of the story. I think I would have enjoyed this novel far more if the book were to continue as an historical novel rather than paranormal ...more
Oct 19, 2016 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing. As much as I loved some of the middle Vorkosigan books this is the best thing I have read of Bujold. It is quite possibly one of my top five fantasy books after an immediate read; I will have to let it sit for a while before confirming such a bold claim but I think I really mean it.

aPriL does feral sometimes
'Paladin of Souls', book two, is a deeper look at the various lands and peoples of Lois McMaster Bujold's fantasy universe of Chalion and the surrounding frenemy kingdoms, first introduced in The Curse of Chalion, book one in this series. While '...Souls' can be read as a standalone, it definitely is better if 'Curse...' is read first. The Five Gods which interact with people are also brought more into focus, as are the demons and ghosts.

Chancellor dy Cazaril is not in this novel, which might i
The Curse of Chalion taught me a number of things about this world and about Bujold. The first lesson is: do not make assumptions about where the story might be going. Bujold politely walks you down each path, letting you get comfortable with each captivating step until you are certain of what comes next, then gently tugs the carpet out from under you and keeps moving on before you have time to catch your breath.

Like Cazaril, this book begins with a broken, older protagonist. Royina Ista, dowage
Jul 06, 2008 Hirondelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A blurb on another Bujold novel I was looking screamed "Bujold at the height of her powers!". Very cheesy, but maybe true. And that also applies to Paladin of Souls. "Bujold at the height of her powers", then.

Its so good, so well written and plotted out, thought out and thoughtful, a convincing feminine perspective on fantasy with an original take on theology. A nice story well told, the work of an author who acquired and sharpened all necessary skills for the writing of a story before writing t
Mar 12, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like the first book in the series, this one has a riveting plot, compelling characters, thorny questions to ponder, and is just as satisfying on the second reading as the first.

Characters who played minor supporting roles in the first book of the series take the lead here, with the central cast of the first book receiving only casual mention. It fits the story better than if the author had given in to the temptation to provide us with a parade of cameo appearances, but I dearly hope that the aut
Maggie K
3.5 really-
the set-up here starts out a bit slow, which makes sense being as this character was under a curse of madness in the first book of this series, so she needs to get her bearings a little bit!

I loved the main character, don't see that many female 40 year old protagonists, so this was great! Towards the end she got a little too perfect...

sometimes things seemed wrapped up a little TOO neatly, as as Ista does her super power thing over and over, but for the most part this story
Jul 27, 2007 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Exciting, philosophical, excellent character and world-building. I found myself yearning to talk to someone about this book--it really incites thought.
Olga Godim
Jan 15, 2012 Olga Godim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
Ista, the protagonist of this novel, breaks one of the rules of fiction that have always bugged me: she wants to go on her adventure. She is not a reluctant hero – a tired trope in fantasy – but rather one burning with the desire to escape her ordered, pampered life. She wants the road, wherever it leads.
She is as far from a standard fantasy heroine as it is possible to get: a 40-years-old woman, dissatisfied and riddled with guilt, yearning for something she can’t name. She feels herself to be
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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) (7 books)
  • The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods, #1)
  • The Hallowed Hunt (World of the Five Gods, #3)
  • Penric's Demon (Penric and Desdemona, #1)
  • Penric and the Shaman (Penric and Desdemona, #2)
  • Penric’s Mission (Penric and Desdemona, #3)
  • Mira's Last Dance (Penric and Desdemona, #4)

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“And the Bastard grant us... in our direst need, the smallest gifts: the nail of the horseshoe, the pin of the axle, the feather at the pivot point, the pebble at the mountain's peak, the kiss in despair, the one right word.” 32 likes
“Poets speak of hope in ladies smiles, but give me a smirk any day, I say.” 30 likes
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