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Funny thing halfway through this book I found myself thinking about what it is that makes Bujold s writing so distinctive in the world of science fiction and fantasy she s another one of these writers who straddles both worlds , and it suddenly came to me that she was like Jane Austen, interested most of all in people and their relationships in constraint ridden societies After finishing the book I glance idly at the About the Author blurb on the inside back jacket and it says that people o Funny thing halfway through this book I found myself thinking about what it is that makes Bujold s writing so distinctive in the world of science fiction and fantasy she s another one of these writers who straddles both worlds , and it suddenly came to me that she was like Jane Austen, interested most of all in people and their relationships in constraint ridden societies After finishing the book I glance idly at the About the Author blurb on the inside back jacket and it says that people often compare her to Jane Austen So, not an original observation, butreliable for being an independent duplicate.Also like Jane Austen, her books tend to be fairly similar to one another even though she writes both science fiction and fantasy If you like one as I do , you ll probably like them all but I wouldn t recommend reading them one after another The best way to enjoy them is the way one optimizes the enjoyment of a cache of chocolate Easter Eggs consume them at intervals long enough so that each one seems fresh and new (((Free Ebook))) ☂ The Curse of Chalion ⇔ A man broken in body and spirit, Cazaril, has returned to the noble household he once served as page, and is named, to his great surprise, as the secretary tutor to the beautiful, strong willed sister of the impetuous boy who is next in line to rule It is an assignment Cazaril dreads, for it will ultimately lead him to the place he fears most, the royal court of Cardegoss, where the powerful enemies, who once placed him in chains, now occupy lofty positions In addition to the traitorous intrigues of villains, Cazaril and the Royesse Iselle, are faced with a sinister curse that hangs like a sword over the entire blighted House of Chalion and all who stand in their circle Only by employing the darkest, most forbidden of magics, can Cazaril hope to protect his royal charge an act that will mark the loyal, damaged servant as a tool of the miraculous, and trap him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation, and death How strangely we are blinded by the surfaces of things What is a diamond A lump of ordinary coal that took pressure exceptionally well Castillar Lupe dy Cazaril is your diamond in this story And please do not call him broken, there is nothing broken about the diamond, even before it is cut to gain the proper shine and brilliance The Curse of Chalion is a story told from the margins of a great power play You know all these books sporting princes and princesses fighting for or defending the How strangely we are blinded by the surfaces of things What is a diamond A lump of ordinary coal that took pressure exceptionally well Castillar Lupe dy Cazaril is your diamond in this story And please do not call him broken, there is nothing broken about the diamond, even before it is cut to gain the proper shine and brilliance The Curse of Chalion is a story told from the margins of a great power play You know all these books sporting princes and princesses fighting for or defending their heritage, the tales that take you right there to the very heart of what is happening and let you experience the heat of events through the eyes and hearts, and souls of the high and lofty This is not one these books The tide of the tale takes us in, but we follow its erratic swirls observing them from the point of view of a seemingly unimportant shell snatched from the shore The narrator is merely a faithful companion to the main players Further, the story, as all good stories should, unfolds in both directions, into the future and into the past not retrospectively, but in a way that allows the reader to make sense of seemingly unimportant events or to join them into a meaningful sequenceSec t y tutor, One ea Gift from Grandmama Aged thirty five Badly damaged in shipping.In spite of his lowly status, Caz is the main pillar of the story In fact, he bears the weight of the whole book on his weary shoulders I was genuinely surprised how this middle aged man was able to hook me into his narrative Ex soldier turned secretary whose main ambition was to find a quiet corner where high life would not bother him any does not sound terribly exciting, does it And yet, this steadfast and principled, rather introvert person, swept into the drama shows that the smallest piece of rock can start a huge avalanche and be a crucial agent of momentous change Caz is not a mere instrument, an accidental tool or a passive witness, he reaches out into the thickest of the forces at play to grasp and to master what is happening This ownership is rooted in the free will of a stellar characterEvents may be horrible or inescapable Men always have a choice if not whether, then how, they may endure Caz, whose body has been mutilated but his spirit is not broken, and at times it soars so high that hardly any other character in the book can equal these heights, endures without becoming a pompous martyr The motif I found the most profound in the whole book is the invitation to reconsider our own personal paths when we a arrive at some point in our lives we can always ask ourselves was it by accident, by pure chance or was there some design, some pattern to it If so, where and when has it begun Was I a conscious and willing element or just a grain of sand caught in the turning gyres From this vantage point, Caz s journey is simply incredible and wonderfully told In addition to lovely prose, Ms Bujold created a cohort of engaging characters The members of the ruling House of Chalion, including its youngest scions, the siblings Royesse Iselle and Royse Teidez, two focal points of the intrigue, the courtiers, the servants, even the animals and the divine beings, form an amazing assortment of tropes and figuresThe god s most savage curses come to us as answers to our own prayers Prayer is a dangerous business I think it should be outlawed Undoubtedly, the way Ms Bujold approached the divine and supernatural is one of the strongest points of the book She tackled this theme at least as skilfully as Robert Jackson Bennett in his Divine Cities and much, much better than the unjustifiably, if you ask me acclaimed Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell although Saint s Blood is still ahead of me, so perhaps I m in for a pleasant surprise The whole idea of a curse, central to the whole plot was fiendishly clever view spoiler distorting and betraying virtues and turning good into evil hide spoiler because it rendered evil characters withthan a two dimensional perspective, even though the majority of what happens is quite easy to surmise in advance.On the relative cons side, the pacing is slow and filled with intrigue rather than action please note, it was not an issue for me, I couldn t put the book down and the romantic subplot is entirely unromantic and not because of the age difference, but due to a total lack of chemistry I have found in Bujold everything I have been looking for and eventhan I asked, and I will definitely be continuing the series and reading her other novels Also in the series 2 Paladin of Souls 3 The Hallowed Hunt The first time I read this, I was torn between my respect for Bujold and the slow burning plot of this first fantasy I had ever read by her It didn t hurt that it was nominated for the Hugo, as she had been nominated over and over, winning several for her classic SF series, but I was like, What Fantasy But she s so excellent with SF, why switch And then when I started reading it, there were none of the fast paced elements or larger than life characters that I expected.In fact, other than t The first time I read this, I was torn between my respect for Bujold and the slow burning plot of this first fantasy I had ever read by her It didn t hurt that it was nominated for the Hugo, as she had been nominated over and over, winning several for her classic SF series, but I was like, What Fantasy But she s so excellent with SF, why switch And then when I started reading it, there were none of the fast paced elements or larger than life characters that I expected.In fact, other than the fact that Cazaril was a broken man like Miles, he was pretty much Miles s opposite Steadfast, principled, not attention seeking, reflective, Cazaril is the definition of Loyalty To Another, self effacing willing to sacrifice himself for a much greater good.The house of Chalion is under a curse, after all, and even after Noble Cazaril s capture and having been turned into a slave, his subsequent escape, and reinsertion into his natural household, he s still a conflicted and broken man in body and in spirit All he really has to hope for is supporting his liege woman This is NOT an action fantasy Indeed, it s nearly spiritual in all the divine revelations There isn t much magic, but don t worry, the true delight is in the messes that the Five Gods make of the world The Bastard s death magic is particularly harrowing, and it happens to have the largest role and plot significance in the novel The other fantastically creative part of this novel is it s devotion to characterization Bujold has always been a master at this, and while this particular novel seems to be a large departure from what we have known, we get through it feeling as if every character is as real as our own loved ones, we handle and are horrified by all the political intrigues and machinations, doing our absolute and not quite sufficient best.I feel a lot of sympathetic love for Cazaril and the characters that he loves Being broken is not the end It s difficult and painful and horrible, but even in his darkest despair, he still managed to keep being wise, even in his several self sacrifices How many main characters can you say that about That the plot wasn t driven by a main character s stupidity Exactly This is SUBVERSION OF THE FANTASY TROPE lolThis is a methodical and expertly paced fantasy, but don t expect it to be flying It s very careful.But the rewards are truly awesome It s hard reviewing books that I really like, especially when I don t really have a systemic way to determine whether or not a book deserves a five star rating i.e., the I want to sing and gush rating So, I thought, what the hey Let me start this review from the point in time when I first realized that this book was a WIN And this particular review that was written by a mind that was blown starts out with a sob story Last week one morning, I woke up with my face feeling stuffed and itchy, e It s hard reviewing books that I really like, especially when I don t really have a systemic way to determine whether or not a book deserves a five star rating i.e., the I want to sing and gush rating So, I thought, what the hey Let me start this review from the point in time when I first realized that this book was a WIN And this particular review that was written by a mind that was blown starts out with a sob story Last week one morning, I woke up with my face feeling stuffed and itchy, eyes watering, and my temperature vacillating between slightly hot and feverish I called in sick and slept most of the morning away only to wake up with a splitting headache Feeling physically miserable but bored, I picked up The Curse of Chalion in hopes that I could make the time fly by I read one page, then fifty, and before I knew it, it was almost 10 PM and I was closing the book, my headache and fever forgotten for the duration of my reading Curse the common cold But a thousand blessings for books like these that make me un feel discomfort Pharmaceutical companies should figure out some way to encapsulate books into medical cure all pills And any book that makes me think such random thoughts is served a fresh and oh so diet crushing dessert of five golden stars from me I will abstain from providing a synopsis the one I wrote mirrored the book description, anyway Instead, let me serve the main course first and go into what made this book so amazingCazarilFirst, though, let me make an important disclaimer As smacked in the face we are with heroes of great deeds and daring, some may not find Cazaril to be very memorable And those who don t may not enjoy this book as much as I have No hard feelings if you re missing out on one very layered, very charming character in fantasy.After all, though he is a hero, Cazaril s not like an honor stiffened Ned Stark or a badass Roland Deschain or even a wise and powerful Gandalf There is no noticeable otherworldly aura of power and wisdom about him view spoiler the saintly aura around him later in the book notwithstanding But I figure the actual aura around him then is too literal a demonstration of what I am trying to say hide spoiler Actually, he s quite stunningly human, burdened with human fear and doubt and weaknesses.It s easy to mistake Cazaril for an old man when we first meet him on the road, dressed and behaving like a beggar, body broken down by great physical injuries and susceptible to his own emotions We see glimpses of wit and intelligence, but it s quickly overrun by shame, uncertainty, and fear It s hard to read about the very human heroes like Cazaril because, well, do we want to feel embarrassed for our hero when he can barely stoop down to pick up a coin dropped in the mud I think not Don t get me wrong Cazaril has his share ofthan normal abilities view spoiler First, he s an excellent soldier, though he conceals it behind a mild mannered smile Also, he s smart, in a bookish and crafty way hide spoiler But those aren t his end game skills, so to say, or what he s really known for Rather, he uses those skills to gain confidence in his own abilities, believe in his own reasoning, and dig up the courage that he buried long ago Basically, to become a stronger and better person than he was before, internally and externally.And the author makes sure we re intimate with Cazaril s development She drags us along with him, step by painful step I personally enjoyed the journey because there is change and growth We see Cazaril slowly start to anchor himself in the tumultuous sea of court politics and divine curses Other characters and we slowly start to depend on Cazaril s inner strength Quite a shift in dynamic, considering how powerless Cazaril was in the beginning of the book On top of excellent character development, the political intrigue that drives events into place is stunningly well written The intrigue isn t too complex for an example of intense behind the curtain wheeling and dealing, see Kushiel s Dart and A Game of Thrones , but it s well written and,importantly, is intricately connected with the Curse of Chalion Don t be dismayed when you realize you re a third into the book and there s no mention of any curse Trust me It s there, it s real, and Cazaril will become very, er, intimately involved with trying to break it It s fascinating and kind of grotesque stuff I realize this review is rambling, so I ll just pull the plug there But for any fantasy aficionado, THE CURSE OF CHALION will be a fantastic read with solid world building, a very sincere religious structure, and, of course, an incredibly multi layered character Plus, the writing is lovely, and Lois Bujold s sharp wit and irony shines through memorable passages.Overall, 5.0 stars and very highly recommended Really three and a half stars A slow start for me, but sometimes good stories take a while to build, and by the end, I couldn t put it down There is an interesting mix of characters, somewhat archetypical but done well enough that they developed uniqueness A feudal system, a failing monarch, an unscrupulous chancellor, a strong minded but elderly female ruler, young heirs running wild, but all with twists that give them individuality I do appreciate the hero, Cazaril, being developedal Really three and a half stars A slow start for me, but sometimes good stories take a while to build, and by the end, I couldn t put it down There is an interesting mix of characters, somewhat archetypical but done well enough that they developed uniqueness A feudal system, a failing monarch, an unscrupulous chancellor, a strong minded but elderly female ruler, young heirs running wild, but all with twists that give them individuality I do appreciate the hero, Cazaril, being developedalong an anti hero line Not because he is ethically questionable far from it but because he is a physical wreck As he regains his footing, he undergoes some spiritual challenges as well Bujold thankfully avoids the traps of failing to have critical information shared between characters, so while Caz undergoes spiritual struggles, he discovers people to help him find his path I also greatly appreciated Iselle, the young female royal being developed and individualized into a well rounded, thoughtful person, almost the exact opposite of her brother.There are a few fantastical elements that are well placed, making it an epic fantasy filled with divine miraclesthan magical ones I enjoyed the assured way Bujold handles language and development, and appreciated the balance between reflection and action If the plot wasn t altogether a surprise, it was well done, and a pleasant journey along the way Fantasy books these days are often rough They swear, they rape, they mutilate and pillage They are dark or grimdark or realistic I like this trend a lot, but once in a while there comes a book that is none of that.Enter The Curse of the Chalion This book is polite It s quiet and beautiful, perhaps sophisticated sometimes It tells a great story and has a very relatable and likeable main protagonist.Cazaril, our main character and only view point perspective, is 35 In the course of the Fantasy books these days are often rough They swear, they rape, they mutilate and pillage They are dark or grimdark or realistic I like this trend a lot, but once in a while there comes a book that is none of that.Enter The Curse of the Chalion This book is polite It s quiet and beautiful, perhaps sophisticated sometimes It tells a great story and has a very relatable and likeable main protagonist.Cazaril, our main character and only view point perspective, is 35 In the course of the story he turns 36, which is my age right now, so I can perfectly relate to him.It s a pleasure to read about his kindness, his intelligence and humility.Kudos to the author, who created a very believeable character Especially the way she approaches Cazaril s thoughts regarding falling in love with a younger woman and wheter it is appropriate or not to do so are very relateable.But the great way of characterization doesn t stop with Cazaril All the other charcters are beautifully drawn as well and it s a joy to read about them.Apart from the characters the world building is very interesting, especially the very detailed religious system.As you might have already guessed, this one is no blockbuster action spectacle, but merely a character driven tale of religion, political manouvers and selfless sacrifice.Delving into the world of Chalion is certainly not a curse, it s a blessing for your soul I am myself surprised at how much I liked this book Generally I prefer books that are plot driven Now and then however a wonderful book comes along built on the characters within.This is definitely a character driven story There is about this story much of the way a melancholy feel of the inevitable doomed hero moving inexorably toward his fate to go on here about whether said hero meets said fate and so on would constitute of course THE spoiler of all spoilers Let me say however that I am myself surprised at how much I liked this book Generally I prefer books that are plot driven Now and then however a wonderful book comes along built on the characters within.This is definitely a character driven story There is about this story much of the way a melancholy feel of the inevitable doomed hero moving inexorably toward his fate to go on here about whether said hero meets said fate and so on would constitute of course THE spoiler of all spoilers Let me say however that I was drawn into Lupe dy Cazaril s saga from the first words of the book and never lost interest.There are many reasons why readers are interested in books of any genre, fantasy books are no different This is a complete world that we get acquainted with through story telling No long background speeches about how the world works, it s government etc it all fits together as we go The religion in the book is well done and I m a Christian Allowing for the fact that this is a story, it to is fairly interesting I found interest in the way it and the magic system here is tied in to the religion and the gods involved effected the characters The overarching sadness here, much of it from the weakness of the story s gods and the way things had to be worked out was very effective.This was for me a very pleasing book and an enjoyable experience, and I plan to read the sequel s Highly recommended One of my slightly unusual 5 stars view spoiler For those interested I find the religious systems in literature etc cause me to reflect on my own beliefs at times Here the people are trapped in a curse they can t get out of that resulted from a plan or possibly an intended blessing from one of the books 5 deities that sort misfired or was spilled The impotence in certain ways of the gods dealt with in the book brought to mind a Bible verse I Cor 15 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable The limited gods I see so often in literature, or the misunderstanding of Christianity I also see often depicted in books and stories comes across to me in the hopelessness these misunderstandings engender Here the curse or broken blessing that became a curse is corrected by dy Cazaril allowing the gods to use him, to allow himself to be sacrificed and become a sort of gate the gods can use to get into the world and correct the screw up Fantasy religions in fantasy books as a rule don t offend me of course some are meant to be offensive, I m not speaking of those here They can and often do make me reflective and allow me to look at or even gain a little insight into or about my own beliefs hide spoiler 4.44 A buddy read with my friends at Fantasy Buddy Reads group Because we love all fantasy, and the well written ones even In mysticism, knowledge cannot be separated from a certain way of life which becomes its living manifestation To acquire mystical knowledge means to undergo a transformation one could even say that the knowledge is the transformation Scientific knowledge, on the other hand, can often stay abstract and theoretical Thus most of today s physicists do4.44 A buddy read with my friends at Fantasy Buddy Reads group Because we love all fantasy, and the well written ones even In mysticism, knowledge cannot be separated from a certain way of life which becomes its living manifestation To acquire mystical knowledge means to undergo a transformation one could even say that the knowledge is the transformation Scientific knowledge, on the other hand, can often stay abstract and theoretical Thus most of today s physicists do not seem to realize the philosophical, cultural and spiritual implications of their theoriesThis was not only good, but so very engaging, I have not been able to think about muchthan the story fro the last three days Which is the biggest compliment I can give a book I love this author, but I only knew her from herpopular sci fi works I had no idea how she will fit her stile to Fantasy and I am very happy to report, LMB does not disappointAny man can be kind when he is comfortable I d always thought kindness a trivial virtue therefore But when we were hungry, thirsty, sick, frightened, with our deaths shouting at us, in the heart of horror, you were still as unfailingly courteous as a gentleman at his ease before his own hearth Events may be horrible or inescapable Men have always a choice if not whether, then how they may endureIn this world, as in ours, people are as imperfect, corrupt, and hungry for power as we are all aware how our society shapes us There are also those who still hold on to thehumane values and virtues and balance out the failings of our kind One of those good ones is our MC, Lord Lupe dy Cazaril, who has been beaten down by torture and defeat, betrayal and faithlessness, and despite all of that, he still hangs on to his honor and desire to be the best he could be Yes, he is scared and skittish, trying to keep his head down and lay low, but his innate decency is bursting to come out, no matter how under the radar he wants to stay In his new position as the secretary to a young noble woman, he rediscovers himself, as well as finds a way to educate her, so her natural passion for justice and doing the right thing do not get lost nor tangled in with her impulsiveness and immaturity On the way to getting her ready for herprominent role in the court, he becomes god touched and is involved in finding a way to lift a curse from the House of Chalion You have to read it in order to discoverabout the curse and how successful or not he is in his noble pursuitsYou cannot outguess the gods Hold to virtue if you can identify it and trust that the duty set before you is the duty desired of you And that the talents given to you are the talents you should place in the gods service Believe that the gods ask for nothing back that they have not first lent to you Not even your lifeThis was a truly thoughtful and delightful read, written with the seamless artistry of a very talented author and is a must read for all the fans of the genre I am looking forward to the next installment in the series Now I wish you all Happy Reading and may you always find what you need in the pages of a good Book I need words that meanthan they mean, words not just with height and width, but depth and weight and, and other dimensions that I cannot even nameThat is Lois McMaster Bujold effortlessly describing what I often feel about excellent writing but lack the skill to articulate What I like best about starting a Bujold book is that feeling of homecoming I know that I will like the prose, I know that the characters will be interesting and believable, I don t know if I will like her plot beI need words that meanthan they mean, words not just with height and width, but depth and weight and, and other dimensions that I cannot even nameThat is Lois McMaster Bujold effortlessly describing what I often feel about excellent writing but lack the skill to articulate What I like best about starting a Bujold book is that feeling of homecoming I know that I will like the prose, I know that the characters will be interesting and believable, I don t know if I will like her plot because sometimes I don t, but even then her books are never unreadable So a Bujold book is always a safe purchase.This not being a Vorkosigan book it took me a while to settle in, to get used to the unfamiliar world, people, and situation However, there is never a problem of initial inaccessibility, Ms Bujold s clean, smooth witty prose with a touch of Jack Vance esque floweriness always keep me afloat For a change, the book is focused on a single character s POV, instead of the currently in vogue numerous multi protagonists POV setup which often causes a book to feel fragmented and can play hell with continuity Another Bujold trademark is unconventional protagonists, she tends to stay away from the fearsomely skilled and well endowed sexy heroic type Cazaril, the protagonist of this book is a somewhat meek and subservient sympathetic middle age scholarly type with little or no fighting skills and a tendency to cower under quilts in extreme fear However, when the chips are down he really shines.I generally readsf than fantasy as I find it difficult to suspend disbelief with a lot of the magical shenanigan that goes on in a lot of fantasy books All that SHAZAM some poor dude turns into a fruit bat business is not for me So I love how discrete magic is in this book It takes a lot of effort and the result is unpredictable This being a Bujold book an element of romance is to be expected Fortunately, she is too mature, intelligent, and classy to write endlessly about lovers staring into each others eyes and other ghastly StephanieMeyerisms My only gripe with this book concerns the pacing of the first third which seems overly leisurely for my taste The book ambles along amiably for a hundred or so pages with no sign of the ass kickage that follows later on in the book Also, I am not a fan of fictional politics and court intrigue stories, so this minor aspect of the book is not so appealing to me I do wonder why the author felt the need to invent terms for royalty like royesse, royina, royse, and royale with cheese OK, not that last one which is a Dutch burger So, all in all, a very good book with a beating heart, Bujold s attention to details and craftsmanship is as evident as ever I am definitely going to read the Hugo Nebula award winning sequel Paladin of Souls Back to thatI need words that meanquote.I just want to mention that it is not highlighted in my Kindle edition of this book It s funny the sort of crap that people do highlight on Kindle books For non Kindle users, I should explain that the highlight is a feature where users highlight their favorite sentences or passages of books and these are upload into the cloud atafter the same passages have been highlighted by a few users the highlight appear on the e book edition as popular highlight So far I find this to be a useless feature which I should turn off but don t because my curiosity always gets the best of me