The Curse of Chalion (Chalion, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Curse of Chalion (Chalion #1)

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  13,714 ratings  ·  979 reviews
A man broken in body and spirit, Cazaril, has returned to the noble household he once served as page, and is named, to his great surprise, as the 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 will ultimately lead him to the place he fears most, the royal court of Cardegoss...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published February 3rd 2003 by Voyager (first published December 1st 2000)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinThe Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
The Best Epic Fantasy
71st out of 2,122 books — 13,718 voters
The Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingA Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
Best Fantasy Books of the 21st Century
72nd out of 1,247 books — 4,260 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
mark monday
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...more
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
Mike (the Paladin)
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...more
I hate reviewing books that I really like. It’s really freaking hard, 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 feel...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
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...more
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...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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Maggie K
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...more
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...more
There are some books that I need to be in the right mood for. This is not one of those. The Curse of Chalion is one of the relatively few books that, no matter what mood I may be in, I can pick up and fall happily into.

From the opening, where Cazaril - battered, bruised, and broken - seeks no greater boon than a place as a scullion in the castle where once he served as a page...the calm, golden days he spends as tutor to Iselle, sister to the heir to the throne...the frightening days in Cardegos...more
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...more
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...more
Tom Merritt
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
3.0 stars. Well written but it did not grab me the way her Vorkosigan novels do. Given the rave reviews, I may need to give the book another shot down the road. Still a very good book, just not my favorite LMB novel.

Winner: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature (2002)
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (2002)
Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (2002)
Nominee: World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2002)
“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 home coming. 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 b...more
3.9 stars (heheh) rounded up for excellent writing. Listened to Blackstone Audio app. Great narration by Lloyd James. Good story, if slow and quite complex at times. As a Vorkosigan fan, I see several parallels between the main character, a knight brought low named Castillar Lupe dy Cazaril (aka Cazaril, or just Caz) and Miles Vorkosigan. Both are rather broken and defeated at the beginning, but in the business of responding to the given situation and doing what friendship, duty, and honor requi...more
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...more
Lori (Hellian)
I had previously tried to read this, but as it was right after a marathon of reading almost all the Miles books, I was gravely disappointed. I missed Miles, and this wasn't space opera either. Since many of my friends here have given it 4 or 5 stars, I figured it was time to try again. And I'm so very gladly I did!

This starts out at a slower pace, and it is a light read - nothing deep or complicated. And at once you can tell where this is going with the main tortured character - he will be lifte...more
A nice way to start off the new year--the first book I finished in 2008 turns out to be, I think, a perfect genre novel.

And it's not as easy to write one of those as you might think. You have to give your readers some of the conventions of the genre, because that's usually why they're reading it in the first place. You also have to make it seem fresh, not just a tired rehash of whatever came before.

This book has all the stuff you look for in a political-intrigue-type fantasy (princesses, dark ma...more
Brenda Clough
A truly superb fantasy novel! To a world vaguely similar to 15th century Spain, Bujold has added a totally original religious system, a complete theology, a teeming cast of gripping characters, and some of the finest set pieces you could ever wish for. The depth of the world and story is just a pleasure to see -- she is a writer's writer.

The story follows Cazaril, a minor official in the kingdom of Chalion, as he rises from street-vagrancy to responsibility and love. Hairpin turns of plot, high...more
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.)

Feb 11, 2009 Jon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Jamie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Note: "The Curse of Chalion" is the first of three books set in the same world, an award-winning sequel and a prequel, but I've read none of the others. So, Chalion can be read as a standalone; it's that self-contained.

* "Five Gods, it really is you. My lord dy Cazaril. I bid you welcome to my house."

Cazaril, protagonist and sole (3rd person) narrator of the book, has nowhere to go when he returns to the royacy of Chalion. Once a page, a courtier, a captain, castle warder and courier, the intrig...more
Jun 13, 2011 Mackenzi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone who likes adventure with hints of romance and not TOO much fantasy magic
This is the epitome of my personal experiences with "Don't judge a book by its cover."
I must have gotten this book from a relative or something because I would never have bought it on my own. I've had little to no experience in adventure fantasy before, and many of the covers are off-putting to me. But this book somehow found its way into my room years ago and I finally thought, whatever, I might as well read the summary.
To my insane surprise, it sounded very interesting. So I read it. It took...more
Aug 02, 2013 Candace rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

The Curse of Chalion

by Lois McMaster Bujold

Eos, 442 pages, hardback, 2001

Bujold is of course extremely well known for her science
fiction: her mantelpiece must groan under the weight of all those
Hugos. Yet this particular reader — and it's perhaps an
embarrassing confession — has always had deep reservations
about her sf novels. They have seemed to be no more than
enjoyable light entertainment: books to be picked up and read
quickly, mildly enjoyed, then forgotten about just as quickly. If
some of the...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Club Fantasci: Worldbuilding 2 8 Nov 24, 2013 09:48AM  
Club Fantasci: Prose 1 3 Sep 07, 2013 07:28AM  
The Sword and Laser: S&L Podcast - #139 - The Curse of Chalion Wrap-up 18 207 Sep 02, 2013 03:07AM  
The Sword and Laser: The Club (spoilers!) 9 193 Sep 01, 2013 12:55AM  
The Sword and Laser: Character Names and Titles 7 199 Aug 26, 2013 10:44PM  
The Sword and Laser: August 2013 Club Pick Announced: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold 55 443 Aug 13, 2013 06:03PM  
The Sword and Laser: Chalion Origins - Spoilers! 4 151 Aug 07, 2013 03:27PM  
  • The Anvil of the World
  • Covenants (Borderlands, #1)
  • Sheepfarmer's Daughter (The Deed of Paksenarrion, #1)
  • A Song for Arbonne
  • The Bone Doll's Twin (The Tamír Triad, #1)
  • The Broken Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #2)
  • God Stalk (Kencyrath, #1)
  • Reader and Raelynx (Twelve Houses, #4)
  • Secrets of the Sands (Children of the Desert, #1)
  • Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky, #1)
  • The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #1)
  • The Element of Fire (Ile-Rien, #1)
  • Alphabet of Thorn
  • A Shadow in Summer (Long Price Quartet, #1)
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon (The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, #1)
One of the most respected writers in the field of speculative fiction, Lois McMaster Bujold burst on to the scene in 1986 with Shards of Honor, the first of her tremendously popular Vorkosigan Saga novels. She has received numerous accolades and prizes, including two Nebula Awards for Best Novel (Falling Free and Paladin of Souls), four Hugo Awards for Best Novel (Paladin of Souls, The Vor Game, B...more
More about Lois McMaster Bujold...
Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga, #7) Paladin of Souls (Chalion, #2) The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga, #2) Shards of Honour  (Vorkosigan Saga, #1) Mirror Dance (Vorkosigan Saga, #8)

Share This Book

“Ignorance is not stupidity, but it might as well be. And I do not like feeling stupid.” 56 likes
“The gods' most savage curses come upon us as answers to our own prayers. Prayer is a dangerous business.” 49 likes
More quotes…