Diane's Reviews > The Curse of Chalion

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
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's review
Mar 23, 09

bookshelves: fantasy, read-before-2011, books-in-a-series

I read this book because I had heard that Paladin of Souls was excellent, and I wanted to read the first book in the series first.

The Curse of Chalion is a long book, but the pacing is good, and the book is interesting from beginning to end. The characters are well-developed. The protagonists are courageous and uncorrupted, in spite of the fatally dangerous and very corrupt world they live in. The book has a single point-of-view character, and follows him on his journey from rescued galley slave to beggar to secretary-tutor to a young princess, and then to... well, I won't spoil it, but it's quite a journey Cazaril is on - one that demands spiritual and physical strength, justified anger, and supernatural protection.

The world-building is well done. The world is based on a medieval European model, with war, political complication, powerful and thoroughly despicable villains, gods, and of course, a curse.

The religion combines some obvious elements of Christianity (for example, the scourging, the willing sacrifice of one's life for another, the heavenly virgin whose protection is a blue light, the piercing that bleeds water) with elements that are decidedly non-Christian (polytheism, death magic which involves sacrificing small animals, the disconnect between spirit and body). A major theme in the book is the relationship between humans (who must pray and have faith) and gods (in whom magic resides), and the magic in the book is really the magic of miracle.

In the end, wrongs are set right, and the book comes to a satisfying conclusion.

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