Julie Davis's Reviews > The Curse of Chalion

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
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Jan 21, 13

Read from January 16 to 21, 2013

Two readers I trust, Will Duquette and Amy H. Sturgis, have strongly recommended both this author and book. I certainly am glad they did, although if Goodreads allowed it I would give it 4-1/2 stars instead of the full 5, simply because I feel the ending was rushed as if the author was ready to get this situation done and the book sent out. I felt this especially in the case of the romantic resolution for the protagonist.

However, overall I really enjoyed this tale of a bedraggled, galley ship survivor who, despite his best efforts to the contrary, finds himself in the middle of royal intrigue. If that weren't enough, he is also pulled into the the affairs of the gods among men as a result and this complicates his life as one might imagine. This is a land of various gods and strong, dark magic. It is, however, also a land where free will matters in the outcome of events.

I must admit that about 5 or 6 chapters into it I almost put this book down, thinking it was much of a muchness with other such tales. Luckily, Amy H. Sturgis picked that moment to comment that this was one of her favorite books. I was not going to be the one who quit on her after that. I respect her too much. I'd read to the end and either be bored by it or love it for the entire thing. Just about then was actually when it got more interesting, so if you find yourself in similar straits, just keep going.

The Curse of Chalion reminded me strongly in some ways of Barbara Hambly's Sun Wolf trilogy, especially in the author's examination of a mature man humbled by events and forced to learn who he is below the surface. However, Curse is altogether more layered and interesting.

How much did I like it? I gave the book's name to both daughters yesterday with the comment that I'd be looking forward to discussing it with them. (And yes, Scott, you may as well beware too ... it will be coming to Good Story sometime soon I have a feeling.)

Will Duquette's review of the sequel, Paladin of Souls, included this comment, which works pretty well for this book also:
See, this is a fantasy series, but it's almost what you might call theological science fiction. That is to say, Bujold has invented a theology (a very interesting one, I might add) and a religion to go with it--and then, having set up the rules, she's seeing where they take her.
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Quotes Julie Liked

Lois McMaster Bujold
“Events may be horrible or inescapable. Men have always a choice - if not whether, then how, they may endure.”
Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion


Reading Progress

01/17/2013 page 80
16.0% 2 comments
01/18/2013 page 160
32.0% "Aha! Now I know why this book goes down so easily and seems so readable. After a certain incident with a rat (and the aftermath, including "lighting up like a fire") I realized that this bears an undeniable resemblance to a favorite Barbara Hambly series ... which begins with The Ladies of Mandrigyn. It isn't identical, you know, and I'm enjoying it. But one does wonder if Bujold read any of those books." 5 comments

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome A Good Story is Found?


message 2: by Amy (new)

Amy Sturgis I'm soooo glad you liked this! Her fantasy will never move me quite like her science fiction (but, to be fair, science fiction is the language of my heart), but I do love this one. I'm thrilled you liked it.

My favorite passage: "I'd storm heaven for you, if I knew where it was.

"He knew where it was. It was on the other side of every living person, every living creature, as close as the other side of a coin, the other side of a door. Every soul was a potential portal to the gods. I wonder what would happen if we all opened up at once? Would it flood the world with miracle, drain heaven? He had a sudden vision of saints as the gods' irrigation system, like the one around Zagosur; a rational and careful opening and closing of sluice gates to deliver each little soul-farm its just portion of benison. Except that this felt more like floodwaters backed up behind a cracking dam."

This reminds me of how the Force is described in Star Wars. ("On the other side of every living person, every living creature," seems to echo these words spoken by Obi-Wan: "The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.") The distinction Bujold makes between those who call upon the gods and those who open themselves to the gods makes me think once again about the distinction made in the Star Wars universe between those Jedi attuned to the Unifying Force, who wish to harness and use its power for "big picture" good, and those Jedi attuned to the Living Force, who wish not to use it but instead to be used by it, to become vessels for the will and movement of the Force "in the moment." These metaphors are very interesting to me, as they underscore the difference between being a directing, acting will and choosing to surrender will and become an instrument. Both paths seek the Good, but they do so in very different ways.

Ah, metaphors. Gotta love 'em!


Julie Davis Amy wrote: "I'm soooo glad you liked this! Her fantasy will never move me quite like her science fiction (but, to be fair, science fiction is the language of my heart), but I do love this one. I'm thrilled you..."

That was a very powerful section of the story, to be sure. His understanding of the need for surrender and also that the gods wouldn't use him against his will was key. I hadn't thought about it in terms of Star Wars, though once you pointed it out, it was there.

For me, of course, I thought of Catholicism with our saints, with our emphasis on intentions being key, and so much more that I really want to discuss with Scott on our Good Story podcast sometime. Bujold's question about what would happen if we all opened up at once became very real and poignant to me since that called up a mental vision of a world where we all cooperate with God ... indeed, it would be paradise, heaven on earth. It made me nostalgic for what Eden must have been and what earth will never be. (If you will forgive my digression ... :-) )

I also thought of The Night Watch where the differences between belonging to the Dark or the Light can be very slight indeed. Again intention is the key to the final effects on both those making the actions and those acted upon.


Julie Davis Tamahome wrote: "A Good Story is Found?"

Oh yeah! Definitely!


CatholicBibliophagist Not the sort of thing I'd normally pick up, but you've persuaded me to put it on my TBR list.


message 6: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome Jesse also approves.

http://www.sffaudio.com/?p=682


Julie Davis CatholicBibliophagist wrote: "Not the sort of thing I'd normally pick up, but you've persuaded me to put it on my TBR list."

Me either, but my pals (and everyone else who's ever read it) were so insistent and I'm glad they were.


Julie Davis Tamahome wrote: "Jesse also approves.

http://www.sffaudio.com/?p=682"


Wow, no kidding! It's rare to see wax so rhapsodic! And he's right. :-)


Jeff Miller Great just what I need another series of books from an author I have not read. Sarcasm aside I will definitely check it out.


Julie Davis Jeff wrote: "Great just what I need another series of books from an author I have not read. Sarcasm aside I will definitely check it out."

Just returning the favor! :-D


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