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

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  14,024 ratings  ·  696 reviews
Follow Lois McMaster Bujold, one of the most honored authors in the field of fantasy and science fiction, to a land threatened by treacherous war and beset by demons -- as a royal dowager, released from the curse of madness and manipulated by an untrustworthy god, is plunged into a desperate struggle to preserve the endangered souls of a realm.
Paperback, 470 pages
Published April 26th 2005 by HarperTorch (first published September 23rd 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Jan 31, 2012 Carol. rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
Sherwood Smith
Sep 20, 2015 Sherwood Smith added it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Aug 16, 2013 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
John Patrick Schutz
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
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!
Jul 13, 2010 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
Mike (the Paladin)
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
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
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
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Oct 17, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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
Exciting, philosophical, excellent character and world-building. I found myself yearning to talk to someone about this book--it really incites thought.
Maureen E
by Lois McMaster Bujold

Opening line: "Ista leaned forward between the crenellations atop the gate tower, the stone gritty beneath her pale hands, and watched in numb exhaustion as the final mourning party cleared the castle gate below."

Paladin of Souls is the second of the Chalion books. It's not a sequel exactly, although we do get a few mentions of the main characters from the first book. Instead, it follows Ista, Dowager Royina of Chalion and mother to the current Royina, Iselle. Most people
Olga Godim
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
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
Oooh, where to start? My first problem was whether I liked it as much, a little less, or a little more than "Curse of Chalion". I still can't decide. Both are excellent and similar, yet different. Which means I am getting nowhere.

In any case "Paladin of Souls" is an excellent read. It starts out a bit slow, but that also reflects the situation of the main character, who is essentially trapped in a life that is in limbo. Nobody's daughter, nobody's wife, nobody's mother in a place where nothing
Andrew Obrigewitsch
It was really hard to get into this book, I'm sot sure if it was the writing style or the narrator or, and most likely the case, a combination of both. The way it was read felt like the 80 year old lady from Britain down the street was telling you about her daughters wedding in 1969 for for the 700th time, and all you can do is nod your head and smile as your mind wonders all over the place. "They stepped to the alter and a demon came out and made the cry blood, which I found rather odd and real ...more
The royal house of Chalion lived beneath a horrible curse for 3 generations. Ista, the dowager Royina of Chalion, had been given the means to end the curse by the very Gods themselves. But it went horribly wrong and she spent many years with the terrible burden that she was nothing more than a murderess. And still the curse remained strong, claiming the lives of her husband and her son. Because of the terrible burden placed on her by the Gods, Ista cursed them roundly and retreated into madness. ...more
Bujold returns to the world of The Curse of Chalion with the story of Ista dy Chalion and a further delving into the world of Chalion and particularly its religion. Ista is an ex-saint, a woman who was touched by the gods and then left by them; after the accession of her daughter to the throne of Chalion (in The Curse of Chalion) and the death of her mother, she is free to make a pilgrimage in order to discover some purpose to her life. Drawn into a conflict between one of Chalion's border stron ...more
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Bujold is such a creative and talented writer. Her fantasy is unique and has such well fleshed out worlds. This book, like the first book The Curse of Chalion, is an excellent read. Check it out if you enjoy fantasy and like an interesting world and theological system.
Wow. This book was just a delight to read. As I closed the last pages, I considered jumping into a reread right away... except I happened to have the third volume of the series at hand, so thought I might finish it first. Lovely adventure which sometimes whipped a bit over my head as I tried to wrap my thoughts around events rapidly unfolding and just as I was getting my foot again whirling with a new twist or interesting character. I really enjoy stories of women finding satisfaction in new liv ...more
Julie Davis
How good is this?

I read it in 24-hours, devoting every spare moment to it. It helps that it was a Sunday, when I had more time, but I did ignore normal chores this morning in order to dash to the conclusion.

I admit that I was a bit dismayed to find myself in Ista's company at the beginning of the book. However, her unique past and relationship to the gods yielded a compelling story, especially when coupled with the situation into which she was thrust by war.

I won't say more because part of the
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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 Curse of Chalion (Chalion, #1)
  • The Hallowed Hunt (Chalion, #3)

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“Poets speak of hope in ladies smiles, but give me a smirk any day, I say.” 26 likes
“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.” 23 likes
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