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

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  19,345 ratings  ·  1,321 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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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.)

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
Pauline Ross
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.
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
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
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
Krešimir Mecing
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.
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Lois McMaster Bujold has long been esteemed in the science fiction genre, so I expected great things from The Curse of Chalion, and I'm happy to report that I wasn't disappointed. This is an excellent piece of work! Bujold's story is completely fresh, and the world-building and magic system are unique, too. I was hooked from page one and it proceeds at a pleasant pace with plenty of surprises and plot twists. Characterization is deep and somehow Bujold mad
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
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
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
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The Sword and Laser: August 2013 Club Pick Announced: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold 59 503 Nov 20, 2014 04:30PM  
Proto-Cazaril and the Letter Game 1 27 Aug 21, 2014 03:59AM  
Is the second book still about Cazaril? 7 72 May 22, 2014 06:11AM  
Club Fantasci: Worldbuilding 2 14 Nov 24, 2013 01:48AM  
Club Fantasci: Prose 1 10 Sep 06, 2013 11:28PM  
The Sword and Laser: S&L Podcast - #139 - The Curse of Chalion Wrap-up 18 213 Sep 01, 2013 07:07PM  
The Sword and Laser: The Club (spoilers!) 9 199 Aug 31, 2013 04:55PM  
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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)
  • Paladin of Souls (Chalion, #2)
  • The Hallowed Hunt (Chalion, #3)

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“Ignorance is not stupidity, but it might as well be. And I do not like feeling stupid.” 73 likes
“Events may be horrible or inescapable. Men have always a choice - if not whether, then how, they may endure.” 71 likes
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