This book discusses the same ideas and theories as The Fourth Way but structured as a memoir not in a the logical and lectured order of the latter. SoThis book discusses the same ideas and theories as The Fourth Way but structured as a memoir not in a the logical and lectured order of the latter. Some ideas are better exposed here as for instance the separation between personality and essence, while others are much murkier. Finally, there is a plethora of "esoteric" ideas (which are never touched in the collection of lectures mentioned above) though many times these theories are left only partially explained.
I would recommend to start reading The Fourth Way and if those theories are down your alley, continue with this book.
P.S. The view of the bolshevik revolution from "inside," that is from the point of view of the Russian intellectualia, is quite eye-opening, even for one like me, who lived through a very real revolution. ...more
I don't think one can review this book. My suggestion is to read its first chapter: if one is "ready" for it, it will blow her/his mind. (There is oneI don't think one can review this book. My suggestion is to read its first chapter: if one is "ready" for it, it will blow her/his mind. (There is one particular idea that is shocking and scary in its truthfulness, but everyone has to discover this for herself/himself.) If not stupefied, one might still find the ideas interesting enough and decide to continue.
In a few words, the first 3/4 of the collection of lectures is a psychology treaty of a very peculiar and non-traditional kind centered around one idea (the one mentioned right in the first chapter, namely, the lack of self-remembering). The last 1/4 of the book is of a more "esoteric" nature (i.e, the most motley amalgam of what is considered the traditional religions, and the antique religions, plus myths, legends, etc.) Some of these latter ideas are to say at least weird, but the authenticity and value of the psychological section is unquestionable (I should know, since I'm the poster child for exemplifying everything that is written in there.)
It is stated several times that one could understand this system of thought (or better said its value) only if one has made a terrible mistake, and I couldn't agree more.
"We can understand what mechanicalness is and all the horror of mechanicalness only when we do something horrible and fully realize that it was mechanicalness in us that made us do it."
Anyways, I intended to review this book is detail, but it won't do justice to its ideas.
"We think we are what we are. Unfortunately we are not what we are but what we have become; we are not natural beings. We are too asleep, we lie too much, we live too much in imagination, we identify too much. We think we have to do with real beings, but in reality we have to do with imaginary beings. Almost all we know about ourselves is imaginary. Beneath all this agglomeration man is quite different. We have many imaginary things we must throw off before we can come to real things. So long as we live in imaginary things, we cannot see the value of the real; and only when we come to real things in ourselves can we see what is real outside us. We have too much accidental growth in us."
P.S. You can find the whole book for free in PDF format online since it's public domain....more
I must be the exception from the rule because I thought that this novel was more enthralling than the previous installment, Paladin of Souls. I won'tI must be the exception from the rule because I thought that this novel was more enthralling than the previous installment, Paladin of Souls. I won't go again over the exceptional writing technique of Ms. Bujold, which I discussed at length in my reviews of The Curse of Chalion (link) and Paladin of Souls (link). Enough to say that the author's style continues to be consistently impressive and gripping.
Quite a few readers complained that they didn't find the religious twist from The Hallowed Hunt as compelling as the theological system from the previous two novels of the series. Maybe it's just me, but what I consider irresistible about these novels is the investigation performed, the questions asked, not the author's discovery, and even less the religious system devised to facilitate the inquest. But if we are to discus the actual doctrine of this book, I happen to welcome the shamanic branching, as a necessary infusion of fresh energy and information after the ubiquitous interference of the Bastard God from Paladin of Souls.
Now, yes the plot slows down a lot in this novel, and in truth there isn't much going on, but the characters are wonderfully nuanced which makes up for the lack of action. Lord Ingrey, the main male character, blurs the line between good and not-so-good: I won't call him quite evil, yet he is the darkest and most ambivalent of all Chalion heroes. And unlike Lord Cazaril and Royina Ista, whom were both profoundly blighted in their prime, Lord Ingrey has fared quite well notwithstanding a difficult childhood: in fact the book starts when he is at the hight of his dignity (at least up to that point). However, IMO the character that pulls the book together, is Lord Wencel Horseriver. He remains uttermost obscure to the reader up to very late in the novel, never giving us enough clues as to decode his true nature (or when we are giving some cues, they tend to be conflicting and cluttered).
The part that I didn't care much in The Hallowed Hunt was the ending: I simply thought that the villain's motivation was weak. It's not that, if I put myself in this character's shoes, I couldn't understand it, but, as a reader, I was hoping for a more electrifying play of events. Even so, I cannot wait for the next book in the series (and I hope there will be one)!...more
I am totally in love with Louis's writing style, or better said, her voice. Because she does have a voice which is so rare nowadays: in the cacophonyI am totally in love with Louis's writing style, or better said, her voice. Because she does have a voice which is so rare nowadays: in the cacophony of writers, rarely one can recognize a unique voice, distinguishable from thousands others. And yet, I believe that's the case with her. Her pen brings words to life: if she talks about a character, I find myself inside that person's head; if she describes the environment, I'm there looking at mountains or wading barefoot through rivers. I believe her style's strongest point is the character development, although quite a few people seem to regard the introspection as a slowing in the rhythm of the story. I guess it's a personal preference: I'd rather read a few extra pages to understand the actor's behavior, than dive head-down into the story and without gulping for enough air to bring the tale to life. As I said in my review of The Curse of Chalion (link to review), I don't think anything in her stories is gratuitous.
However overall I found Paladin of Souls less captivating than The Curse of Chalion. It took me a while to realize what there seem to be the "problem" (not that it greatly affected my reading experience, as my one-day-start-to-end read proved it). Some folks complained that there isn't that much going on in the book; but I believe that's only a side effect since there are much more action numbers in Paladin of Souls than in the previous instalment. In my opinion, the novel would have done better with an extra negative character. In The Curse of Chalion we have the Chancellor dy Jiornal who plays the secondary villain next to the curse itself. But in the second novel, there is no one besides the mysterious demon-driver to bring more tension (and twists of fate) in the scene. Yes we still have a version of the positive character turned negative through a perverted quality (in The Curse of Chalion this is Roya Orico who, by being too lenient, tips the good-bad scale; here it's Lady Cattilara whose morbid love threatens the lives of all those around her). But as these characters always turn good in the end, their contribution to the angst is not the same as a true rogue.
On the other hand, I found the characters from Paladin of Souls more nuanced and multidimensional than those in The Curse of Chalion. Ista is not only torn apart by a catastrophical early life, but also between her resentment (and let's admit it, esoteric fear) of dealing with the Gods and her true divine calling. Her furtive and rather concisely described love affair is charming and much more convincing than that of Royina Iselle in The Curse of Chalion. Both male characters, Lord Arhys and Lord Illvin, although extraordinary in their military skills, are quite regular men, easily tempted by a hot-blooded beautiful woman and frighten by their portended bleak fates.
Finally, although the goods' presence is much more widespread in this second installment (the Bastard Good is a singular character), I found the pure metaphysical discourse shy away in front of the mystery with metaphysical vibe....more
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 II 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 should have been edited down to at most 300 pages. I couldn't disagree more! I can't find reason to delete a single word from this book because every single detail, as meager as may be, is important for the course of action or building characters; and sometimes they are crucial in more than just one way. For instance most writers use recollection as a way of developing the characters. But for Ms. McMaster Bujold the past is not only a tactic for revealing personalities but also (and this is a mild spoiler) an intrinsic part of the mystery Lord Cazaril tries to solve. He would never have a chance against the curse if it wasn't for the past developments, which are sometimes educed deceivingly obscure.
Some other reviewers complained that the pace of the novel is too slow - but I don't believe that to be the case either. Yes, if you are looking for a book with twenty fights per hundred of pages and countless acts of instant-gratification magic, this is not the one for you. Even so - "The Curse of Chalion" isn't slow-paced but alertly introspective. It is through this inner analysis that we find its purpose.
And here I am, finally arriving to the main question: What is the purpose of this book? What is all about? It's most definitely not a wizardry book, although the word "magic" abounds in it. IMO, it could be seen as a mystery novel, a rather peculiar one since there is neither a dead body, nor a murderer, nor a detective per se. We deal instead with a few characters severely affected by a curse (the victims), a curse (the killer), and a tutor trying to solve the mystery and protect his pupil from being the next victim (the detective).
Yet, I believe that the whole murderer-detective story, donned in a fantasy attire, is just a pretext for the author's de facto mystery: her theological exploration. The Quintarian theology might seem as idiosyncratic, with its Bastard god maintaining the balance between the four established gods, but the questions Ms. McMaster Bujold raises are very universal to anyone who ever gave metaphysics any thought: free will, communicating with gods, destiny, miracles, etc.
And so it is that I believe this book is not about removing a curse, but about finding our place in the Universe....more