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Paladin of Souls

(World of the Five Gods (Publication) #2)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  23,380 ratings  ·  1,411 reviews

One of the most honored authors in the field of fantasy and science fiction, Lois McMaster Bujold transports us once more to a dark and troubled land and embroils us in a desperate struggle to preserve the endangered souls of a realm.

Three years have passed since the widowed Dowager Royina Ista found release from the curse of madness that kept her imprisoned in her family'

Kindle Edition, 496 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published September 23rd 2003)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  23,380 ratings  ·  1,411 reviews

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Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mayim de Vries
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I do not speak to you as your royina. I do not even speak as one god-touched. I speak as a woman, who has walked to the end of that road and returns to report the hazards."

Middle-aged woman, a widowed mother of two, believed to be deranged (well, at least not entirely right in her head) is certainly not your typical fantasy heroine. But just like it was in the first instalment in the World of the Five Gods series, Ms Bujold proves to be very adept at creating the most unusual protagonists. As Z
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-shelf, fantasy
Even though this one is set in the same universe and there are crossover references and characters, this novel is quite different from The Curse of Chalion, in both situation, location, and MC's. Don't let that dissuade you, because this book kicks some serious butt. Literally, for there's even a WAR!

Enter Ista, the dowager mother, considered mad but really just god-ridden, bored and desiring a bit of action on the side. (Get your mind out of the gutter. Yes, she does have some romantic feels, o
mark monday
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-modern
the woman is not old, but blame the place and time, she is seen as such. the woman is not maternal, despite having given birth to a child she loves. the woman is not mentally unwell, but blame the past's taint on her present, she is seen as such. the woman seeks adventure and an opening for escape from the smothering life that those who love her would trap her in. she forces a door to open and so off she goes! smart, brave, emotional, critical, modest, kind, and eccentric... she's all the best t ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
*** 4 ***

A buddy read with the folks at FBR, because we love good Fantasy!

"...“The gods give no gifts without hooks embedded.”..."

For anyone who knows me, they must understand my love affair with the works of Lois McMaster Bujold. I am all about the characters who seem normal but are anything but... They are just enough off-center, that they become different than most leading characters we usually meet in both Sci-Fi and the Fantasy genres, despite their obvious to us, after we get to know
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
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
Apr 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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! ...more
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
The was more of a spin-off from Curse of Chalion rather than a regular sequel but that did not stop it from retaining most of the elements that made the first book such a good story. The pacing is fairly sedate but Bujold has an engaging style and this character driven story mixes in more than enough magic, mystery, action, and even a tad of romance to keep things interesting!

Curse of Chalion was Cazaril's story but Paladin of Souls switched focus and gave us Ista's story. We met the Dowager Ro
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
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 brilliant stars!

Because this is what I call 'Book Heaven!'

What do you do when you can talk to Gods and have the second sight but everybody thinks you’re completely and undeniably MAD?!

Easy – you do what Ista did: start off on a quest to curse a few Gods, fight a few demons, save a few souls and gain forgiveness for your own, answer a few prayers, fall in love, curse the Gods some more and then become their tool to maybe save the world?! Perhaps find courage, happiness and even yourself along

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 wi
I had a rather puzzling experience with this novel. I find the quality of Bujold’s writing itself to be quite fluid, assured, and inventive; and I find her characters to be appealing, surprising, and full of intriguing quirks and depths. But somehow throughout this novel I felt kept at an arms’ length from feeling fully swept up by it. Then there were lovely, crystalline moments of emotional complexity and grace — the final scene between Ista and Goram was especially rich and moving — and I foun ...more
John Patrick Schutz
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love, LOVE the protagonist of this book. She's not a great warrior, or a skillful rogue, or a powerful wizard, or anything like that. She's not even a not-great warrior or a not-powerful wizard who grows more powerful as the story progresses.

She's a middle aged woman who really wants a vacation.

Ista was a fairly minor character in Curse of Chalion, albeit one who was hugely affected by the events of that book. Here, she's been restored to full sanity, and chafing at the restrictions of her (lo
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
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Spencer Orey
Sep 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow but good overall. I liked the adventures of grumpy old Ista, who isn't actually old but is treated as such. I particularly liked the start where she goes on meandering pilgrimage, before the book becomes more focused on war and threats. There are some good mysteries around demons and sorcery and the influence of the Gods. The slow build of romance was a nice touch too.

I have a very limited tolerance for books where the elite person feels bad about how all their privilege and servants are co
This was the right book at the right time. These are not the 5 stars of an enthuiastic love at first sight, or a wow-moment. These are the 5 stars of the longlasting love that comes when the first impulses died down and reality is faced.

I felt absolutely comfortable with this story on nearly every level. Like in the first book Lois McMaster Bujold's prose is a perfect mix of lightfooted humor and a mature take on story and characters. It feels completely self-assured and therefore is able to dra
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
Left me with a happy glow!
Apr 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, read-in-2021
"Once, she had been her parents' daughter. Then great, unlucky Ias's wife. Her children's mother. At the last, her mother's keeper. Well, I am none of these things now. Who am I, when I am not surrounded by the walls of my life?"

Paladin of Souls is the second book in Bujold's World of the Five Gods series. Technically it can be read standalone as the story is wholly contained, has all the information needed to understand the nuances of the world and only references the first novel that aren't pl
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
Kitty G Books
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is technically the second book in this series, although it doesn't follow many of the characters from Curse of Chalion with the exception of Ista, the once-mad Royina, who is the main character of this book.

In this story we see that Ista, following the events in Curse of Chalion, doesn't really have any purpose in her life now. Both her children have gone and she's left surrounded by her mother's old court of stuffy and silly ladies quite unlike her. Although she's an older and sometimes b
Finishing this book was not as fast as I thought. It was set in a more sedate pace than The Curse of Chalion. I know I said I missed Cazaril's POV a lot because he's funnier but actually Ista could be funny too with her dry remarks. Ista herself was a great character. It is not often we find a middle-age woman as a main character in any novels especially fantasy, which still has tendency to focus on teenage girls ready to fight the world and all that jazz. Maybe because I am past my teen years I ...more
Apr 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ista, a character peripheral to the action in book one, takes centre stage here, and she's magnificent. Having been seen, erroneously, as mad for many years, she's healed now and chafing at her restrictions at home; pondering escape, she decides to go on a pilgrimage get away from her brother's and servants' constant coddling.
She quickly becomes embroiled in a fight with demons and a plot against Chalion, and with the heightened emotions of a difficult and dangerous situation with the noble fam
Sep 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura (Kyahgirl)
May 2019 re-read. Still love this one. Excellent story.

5/5; 5 stars; A+

I read this book years ago and rated it highly but now that I have read The Curse of Chalion and have a better context, this book shines even more brightly.

Ista was a secondary character in The Curse of Chalion. A woman who most regard as somewhat demented. By the end of that book Ista has come out from under the curse but is still wrapped in the loving cocoon/prison of her family and caretakers.

This book is about Ista, find
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought the first book in this series was good, but Holy Bastards, Batman this one was awesome!!! We have a strong heroine who has been thought mad most of her life. Now she has hit middle age and wants to escape the controlling life she has been living. She goes on a pilgrimage, even though she doesn't want anything to do with religion, just wants to shake off the cloying life she's been living.
But, the gods find her anyway and direct her in their paths. I laughed, I cried; it was glorious!
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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

Other books in the series

World of the Five Gods (Publication) (3 books)
  • The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods, #1)
  • The Hallowed Hunt (World of the Five Gods, #3)

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