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The Paladin

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,373 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
The Lord Saukendar, Imperial sword master and stalwart supporter of the Emperor is betrayed, falsely accused of an affair with his childhood sweetheart Lady Meiya, now the Emperor's wife. Meiya is dead, and hostile forces have command of the Emperor's regency. Wounded, desperate and cut off from his supporters, Saukendar runs for the border.

In a homemade cabin high in the
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 11th 1990 by Mandarin (first published January 1st 1988)
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Mike (the Paladin)
Nov 04, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't.

All I'll say here is, I don't exactly feel flattered by Cherryh's view of "men" in general. The old "paladin" spends half the book considering forcing the heroine to have sex with him...for her own good of course.. Sheesh. Talk about a really tired stereotype. I suppose the constant idiocy of the male character in this novel is to show the female character's struggle to be taken as an equal, but it just doesn't work. Well, it doesn't work unless y
I'm of two minds about C.J. Cherryh's The Paladin. It starts out promisingly, with the peasant girl Taizu arriving at the mountain hideaway of Saukendar, exiled swordmaster, and begging him to teach her to fight. Unwillingly, he accepts her as a pupil, and the first half of the book explores the training and their growing relationship. I found this section entirely engrossing. It's all from Saukendar's point of view, and it's fascinating to watch him reluctantly grow to accept and even care for ...more
I forced myself to finish this one because it counts for my WWE Women of Genre Fiction challenge, but I wasn't very happy about it. This isn't a great introduction to C.J. Cherryh's work, I think: it's a standalone fantasy-ish alternate history-ish story, which would normally be right up my alley. It's even a break from the medieval European fantasy that gluts the genre, based on Chinese culture and history (so far as I can tell). It has a strong female protagonist who becomes a swordswoman. And ...more
Michael Pearce
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Looking for a night in shining armor, a paragon of virtue and flawless character? An untarnished hero who is a beacon of light standing against the darkness? Look somewhere else.

In a nutshell we have the main character, and exiled sword master from a china-like fantasy kingdom. A peasant girl whose family have been casualties of the political strife in his former kingdom comes to him and demands that he train her so that she can revenge herself on the Lord responsible. I don't think that it's re
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
This fantasy novel is set in a world that is very clearly inspired by East Asian culture and history. It is the story of Shoka, an exiled member of the nobility and master swordsman, and Taizu, the young girl who shows up at his mountain retreat. Scarred mentally and physically by the political turmoil and violence of the outside world, she convinces Shoka to teach her so that she can take revenge against those who destroyed her home and her formerly peaceful life. Shoka initially resists the id ...more
Rachel Brown
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
An intense but fun novel about a young woman in a Japan-ish fantasyland and her relationship with the retired swordsman who reluctantly trains her. Nowhere near as cliched as you might imagine, and full of marvelous training sequences. Not a fantasy except in the sense of taking place in a country that doesn't exist.
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I blush to admit it, but I was thinking Andre Norton and her usual coming-of-age female protagonists when I grabbed this book off the “new book” shelf at the library (which is where the librarians put various books on display, whether they are new or not). Consequently, I was a bit surprised as I got into the book about the slightly risqué relationship between the two major figures. To tell the truth, it had been so long since I had read any of Cherryh’s other books (the only one I could think o ...more
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Cherryh is one of my favourite authors, and this is one of my favourites of her (many) books.

In some ways it's not a typical Cherryh book, as some of the usual characteristics of her style are absent or muted: most noticeably there's far less emphasis than usual on the internal thought processes of the protagonists. Most of her books could never be described as action-oriented - even the more recent volumes in the Foreigner series, which have tended towards more excitement, are still built aroun
David Friedman
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like Cherryh, and I think this is her best book. It isn't exactly a fantasy, since there is no magic, although the male protagonist uses other people's belief in magic, as he uses every other tool he can find. It isn't exactly a historical novel, since the author has created her own map and society based on some mix of Chinese and Japanese.

The male protagonist is a brilliant, bitter man who has surrendered long ago—gone into exile to get out of a corrupt political struggle which he cannot win
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
As much as I love Cherryh's science fiction, my favorite books by her are the Rusalka series. This book feels a lot like those, although perhaps not nearly as stellar.

In addition to the world-building (a semi-China or Japan) and the general feel of the book, what I liked the most was the way Cherryh chose to use the problematic guy as the protagonist. It would have been oh so easy to write this story from the point of view of the young girl, but instead, we follow the less sympathetic man, who s
Nov 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenne by: Jo Walton at (check out her reviews--they are brilliant)
Okay. For the first two thirds or so, this was a full-on five-star book. It was a completely awesome story of a reclusive master swordsman who lives on a mountain in the middle of nowhere, and this girl who comes and insists he train her.
Totally great. I love an apprentice story, which is basically a makeover story (and I have probably said before that I LOVE makeover stories), and the characters were interesting and behaved like normal, stupid people.
AND THEN, just when things are getting good
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really wasn't expecting to give a sword-heavy book five stars, but Cherryh has made me a fan all over again.

The usual line would be tough guy gets tough girl with a lot of adventure along the way; and that is the basic story line, I suppose. But I couldn't put this one down. The tension and process of coming to an accommodation with another human in order to share a life is described with a perfect trueness. There is attention to life detail that makes these characters real, and the story more
A solid effort from Cherryh. It was both gripping and pleasingly character-focused, and I felt that the obvious Asian influences on the setting were handled with respect. The first half was, I think, stronger than the second half, which felt rushed in comparison, but it was a satisfying read none the less.
Jonathan Madison
I found the book to be slow, it was a real struggle to finish the book. Not fantasy, just a "historical fiction" set in a fictional world. The author's view point on men in general made the book tough to swallow. I'm all for realistic characters, but the old warrior just ended up being very one dimensional.
Kelly Hunter
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: keepers, fantasy
When I can wrench myself out of the story long enough to contemplate craft, this book is a stunning example of how to build and reveal character without ever entering that character's pov.

This book straddles genres. Fantasy, with Asian-flavoured world building. Adventure, yes. Redemption. Revenge. Love story. Yes!
Mar 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, fantasy
I really like this book. The first half is amazing but the second half hares off on a political maneuvering/war thing that wasn't near as interesting. When I reread it, I usually skim the second half.
Murray Writtle
May 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stand alone novel unrelated to any of Cherryh's others. A classic rif on the unwilling swordmaster dragged back into the world by a determined disciple.
Oct 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hate-it
Cherryh's Cyteen series - published the same year as 'Paladin' - impacted me greatly and helped shape or sharpen a number of my worldviews about people. Somehow I never got around to 'Paladin' until now.

How the same person authored both is just beyond me. The first two thirds of 'Paladin' are at best eye-rolling, cringe worthy, repetitive, and downright insulting. The only reason I slogged through to the very end was the hope that just maybe Cherryh would reveal that this whole novel was written
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Toto má do fantasy opravdu daleko. Takže si to vyřaďte ze seznamů fantastiky, pokud to tam máte.

První třetina knihy je okoukávání situace, která je podána celkem slušně a srozumitelně.

Druhá třetina knihy je o slovech "blázen" a "nebudu s vámi spát". Asi nejzajímavější část knihy.

Poslední třetina knihy je učiněný chaos.

Co je však důležitější, není to nejhorší, ale není to ani pro příliš mladé čtenáře. (Soudím podle sebe. Protože až po určité době a řadě pokusů se mi tuto knihu podařilo konečně
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, adventure, war, slow
The slow steady development of the two central characters makes this book worthwhile, as the pace is snail like. The conclusion of the book was a bit of a disappointment, considering the purpose of Taizu's reason for learning how to kill, it passed almost without any description at all. There were some rare moments of tension, but the books strength is in the characters.
As with the other Cherryh books I've read, the text is sometimes obscure, and the meaning hard to discern, requiring several p
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
☺ Cherryh in fine storytelling form! !

Loved the characters and their world.more installment us soon? Love her work! Demons and ccurmudgeons , pigs and war .all in a day's work.
Damian Neri
May 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Yes. That was it. I'll give another try to Cherryh, though.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2016
3,5 stars

First book I've read by Cherryh and I'm intrigued. It's a standalone, martial-arts-fantasy set in a land very similar to medievil China. An inland Empire called Chiyaden, a nation of warring provinces, courtly intrigue and a weak Emperor where lords take advantage of the peasant population and women are second class citizens. Taizu, a young 16-year old girl who had her entire village slaughtered by the warlord Gitu, is dead set on revenge. Shoka, a legendary swordsman betrayed by his Em

Max Lybbert
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book. I have some quibbles about whether the story we get is the one originally promised -- I, for one, thought a different character was the paladin -- but the story we get is enjoyable.

Taizu's training is detailed, and Cherryh clearly did her research. The story is set in an Oriental land, but references to squash and opossum make it clear that it's not set on our world (or, if it is, that it's set after trade began between the Americas and the Orient). There is no magic, a
The Paladin is... not really the book I wanted it to be.

My previous exposure to Cherryh has been some of the Foreigner and Alliance/Union books, which I enjoyed; I've never read her fantasy. I had a feeling this wasn't going to be dark SF, but I didn't know what to expect. It turns out to be a no-magic fantasy set in a vaguely Chinese secondary world in which a girl, Taizu, is seeking revenge on a local warlord and is hoping to be trained by Shoka, who was the greatest court swordsman of his day
Jim Mcclanahan
Feb 02, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by:
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
While classified as 'fantasy', its more in line with historical fiction modeled after Asian culture. The major focus is one the relationship between the 2 protagonists, with no real action happening until the last third of the book. While well-written with good characterization, there is a dearth of detail about the world outside of the mountain hut where the book primarily takes place. The words "richly detailed", "expansive", and "complex" don't apply at all to this novel.

After reading the wor
Mar 09, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enter a world where Emperor's reign and justice is the gleam of a well-honed blade. In an alternate land of ancient china, the Empire of Chiyadan has fallen to ruin...mercenaries run amok, villages burned to the ground, and the land is dominated by a cruel regent. In all of this, Saukendar (a.k.a. Shoka), one of the greatest swordsman the Empire has ever known, dwells in exile on a lonely mountain top. Until the day, that is, a young stranger enters his midst, pleading with him to pass on the sk ...more
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Currently resident in Spokane, Washington, C.J. Cherryh has won four Hugos and is one of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed authors in the science fiction and fantasy field. She is the author of more than forty novels. Her hobbies include travel, photography, reef culture, Mariners baseball, and, a late passion, figure skating: she intends to compete in the adult USFSA track. She began ...more
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