The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods #1) - Lois McMaster Bujold 8.80   24

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award 2002, World Fantasy Award nominee 2002, Hugo Award nominee 2002.

In a dazzling display of invention and storytelling, the incomparable Lois McMaster Bujold offers us the razor-keen edge of a very different sword...

THE CURSE OF CHALION

On the eve of the Daughter's Day – the grand celebration that will honor the Lady of Spring, one of the five reigning deities – a man broken in body and spirit makes his way slowly down the road to Valenda. A former courtier and soldier, Cazaril has survived indignity and horrific torture as a slave aboard an enemy galley. Now he seeks nothing more than a menial job in the kitchens of the Dowager Provincara, in the noble household where he served as page in his youth.

But the gods have greater plans for this humbled man. Welcomed warmly, clothed and fed, he is named, to his great surprise, secretary-tutor to the Royesse Iselle – the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is destined to be the next ruler of the land. But the assignment must ultimately carry Cazaril to the one place he fears even more than the sea: to the royal court of Cardegoss, rife with intrigues and lethal treacheries.

In Cardegoss, the powerful enemies who once placed Cazaril in chains and bound him to a Roknari oar now occupy the most lofty positions in the realm, beneath only the Roya himself. Yet something far more sinister than their scheming hangs like a sword over the royal family: a curse of the blood that taints not only those who would rule, but those who stand in their circle. The life and future of both Iselle and her entire blighted House of Chalion lie in dire peril. The only recourse left to her loyal, damaged servant is the employment of the darkest and most forbidden of magics – a choice that will indelibly mark Cazaril as a tool of the miraculous... and trap him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation, and death for as long as he dares walk the fivefold pathway of the gods.

"Fresh, intriguing, and as always from Lois McMaster Bujold, superb." – Robert Jordan


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Release date August 2001
Details updated August 23, 2022

World of the Five Gods :: Series

Series contains 3 primary works and has 3 total works.

Related series Penric and Desdemona

The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods #1) 8.80   24
Paladin of Souls (World of the Five Gods #2) 8.86   15
The Hallowed Hunt (World of the Five Gods #3) 8.34   12

Community Reviews & Rates

Robin Lythgoe
33 ratings
17 reviews
0 posts
August 26, 2015
8 / 10

This was an easy story for me to be drawn into, character-driven — and how! Lupe dy Cazaril is not your typical fantasy hero. He is a man damaged, betrayed, and afraid. This, of course, begs the question: How on earth is he going to accomplish his heroics? The use of demons and gods is complex and intriguing, providing a unique religious presence that — while a significant aspect of the story — is not "preachy." Bujold handled it neatly, showing the entirely human tendency to wander back and forth on the road of faith. The kinship between the gods and demons of her world, and between gods and the world, is intricately and beautifully sketched. Add to that the development of a complex political situation shaded by the magic. Or the gods… I loved that the characters were incredibly well developed and "whole." No flat or cookie-cutter personalities here! While they could be described via "the usual fantasy cast of characters," they don't stay stuck in those molds. None of them have black-and-white qualities; they are shaped by the setting, by their interactions, by the choices they make. No one is simply evil, and no one is perfectly good. The language is marvelous, though occasionally complicated. There is a sad and desperate sort of humor that reminds me of the axiom, "We laugh because we must not cry." All in all, a book entirely worth reading.

Ron
338 ratings
23 reviews
0 posts
March 10, 2014
10 / 10

This is one of my "prescription" books. When I read it again I am always cheered up and feel a little better.

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