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The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods #2)

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  22,093 Ratings  ·  1,488 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
Paperback, 496 pages
Published February 3rd 2003 by Voyager (first published December 1st 2000)
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Jsmh A very little between secondary characters. A tiny amount for the main character.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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mark monday
Dec 30, 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
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
Mar 06, 2016 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
May 15, 2016 Brad rated it it was amazing
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
Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 13, 2011 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
Sep 08, 2013 Mpauli rated it really liked it
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
Jan 04, 2012 Carol. rated it really liked it
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
Jul 11, 2014 Conor rated it liked it
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
Mar 18, 2016 Apatt rated it really liked it
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
“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,
Apr 19, 2016 Ivan rated it really liked it
Iako je ovo prva knjiga u seriji, zapravo je reč o seriji od tri romana i jedne novele smeštenih u isti svet, samo u različitim vremenskim intervalima. Zašto je ovaj naslov bitan? Pre svega zato što odstupa od ideje da je fantastika igra za mladež. Protagonista jeste u tridesetim godinama života, ali valja voditi računa da živi u civilizaciji u kojoj nije neuobičajeno da četrdesetogodišnjaci umiru od starosti. "Kletva Haliona" je divan primer "fantazije za odrasle", negde na pola puta između rom ...more
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
May 18, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing
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
Tom Merritt
Aug 25, 2013 Tom Merritt rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
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
Pauline Ross
Jul 19, 2014 Pauline Ross rated it it was amazing
Fantasy Review Barn

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.
Oct 19, 2009 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
Maggie K
Feb 11, 2015 Maggie K rated it really liked it
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
Oct 22, 2014 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
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.)

Lilia Ford
I read this in a marathon, started at 10pm, read til 4am, and then all day today--while I was getting a hair-cut, eating my leftover pasta for lunch, walking down the street to get coffee.

So that gives an idea of the ability of Ms. Bujold to suck you into her world and only spit you out, exhausted and dizzy, at the final page. It is a first-class fantasy world, beautifully written, with one of those amazing, utterly unlikely Bujold heroes, Cazaril, marked as much by doggedness and decency as an
Mar 08, 2014 Dorian rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 02, 2013 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
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
Jul 14, 2008 Ryan rated it liked it
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
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
Jan 01, 2008 Jenne rated it it was amazing
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
Krešimir Mecing
Jan 10, 2016 Krešimir Mecing rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, favorites
Odlično razrađeni likovi, koji vas tjeraju ili na blentavi smiješak ili na tiho psovanje u nevjerici, te vrlo zanimljivo zamišljen sustav bogova gdje uslišana molitva najčešće nije dar nego prokletsvo, dovode do tog da čitatelj vrlo lako postane ovisan o priči, a rečenice kao "pokupit ću rublje kasnije" ili "ne treba mi kruh ovako rano" počne koristiti što češće...da :)
Ljubitelji fantasy žanra - navalite.
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Is the second book still about Cazaril? 8 98 Jan 11, 2016 06:26PM  
The Sword and Laser: August 2013 Club Pick Announced: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold 59 506 Nov 20, 2014 04:30PM  
Proto-Cazaril and the Letter Game 1 29 Aug 21, 2014 03:59AM  
Club Fantasci: Worldbuilding 2 14 Nov 24, 2013 01:48AM  
Club Fantasci: Prose 1 11 Sep 06, 2013 11:28PM  
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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 (3 books)
  • The Hallowed Hunt (World of the Five Gods, #1)
  • Paladin of Souls (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.” 79 likes
“Events may be horrible or inescapable. Men have always a choice - if not whether, then how, they may endure.” 76 likes
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