I chose this title because it was the "editor's pick". I was somewhat hesitant with the choice after reading the "Editorial Review"; therefore, I put it on the back burner for a while before finally breaking down and giving it a try. Wow, was I in for a surprise. I thought the book was wonderful! The characters and story are well drawn and believable (fantasy from an author who obviously has studied history - this always makes for a better spun yarn, i.e. Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, Tolkein etc.). The narrator does an excellent job as well, which can also make or break a book. Overall this is a great fantasy with something for everyone: war, romance, intrigue, magic, and mystery.
I am usually not a fan of big novels, and this is a big novel. However, this novel is worthy of the awards it won and more! It is marvellous in holding on to the reader's attention as the suspense slowly builds up. Lupe Di Cazeril (the main character) is voiced brilliantly, and the hesitation of a broken (but not unwilling) man endears the character to the listener. Rooted with mythical gods, Father, Mother, Son, Daughter and the Bastard, yet, the novel does not preach. It merely tells the story, and I believe, that is what a good novel does! Go buy it, it's worth the patience if you are an avid listener!
This is one of my favorite books, and I was very excited to start listening to it. Unfortunately, this narrator is awful. He imposes weird accents on the characters. The worst is probably Umegat, whom he probably intended to endow with an Arabic accent. Instead he sounds like Apu from the Simpsons (very distracting in a character who is supposed to be learned and spiritually deep). Palli sounds like a stereotypical comic book hero (think The Tick), and the main character Cazaril gruffs and growls his way through every scene. Beyond the accents, the narrator adds weird chuckles, grunts, and other verbal ticks not called for in the text. It's enough to drive a devoted Bujold fan mad. If you're not familiar with the book, perhaps it won't bother you, but if you are, I highly recommend you go with another book from this series (Paladin of Souls or Hallowed Hunt), or one of the books from the Vorkosigan novels (read by the excellent Grover Gardner) instead.
I really enjoyed this book. It was the first thing from Bujold I’d ever listened to and it sold me on her writing. After many more of her books I have found only one, “The Hallowed Hunt”, that I didn’t care for.
Granted the narrator could have done a better job, but while listening I didn’t really notice the narration. To some extent it may have been because the story is so good. Another reason is that the narration was neither so bad nor so good as to notice it.
The author has laid out an interesting fantasy world that isn’t so much different from our own that we can’t understand it. The story is consistent with the created world throughout and events unfold consistent with those rules.
It’s difficult to recommend a book without giving away plot details, so I’ll just say that I very much enjoyed this one. If you are an alert reader/listener you’ll probably be able to predict one or two of the story lines, but getting there is more than half the fun with this book.
The story does wrap up completely at the end, so if you don’t want to listen to the entire series you are still okay with just this one book. That’s also true for the second book in the series, “Paladin of Souls”. I don’t recommend the third book, “The Hallowed Hunt”.
If you are going to give Lois McMaster Bujold a try, this is the book to start with.
Curse of Chalion is one of my favorite Bujolds - honestly, it's one of my favorite books. After years and years of doing good work on the Vorkosigan novels, she turned her hand to a wholly new piece of fantasy, producing compelling characters, with the simultaneously hilarious and penetrating dialogue of all her best writing, in an incredibly rich, detailed, interesting world, fully supplied with totally new gods and beliefs, a history of politics, hardship, courtly elegance, and war, a society, a geography... Curse of Chalion is a masterful piece of epic fantasy which keeps the story fully anchored in the gripping humanity of its characters.
And someone went and gave it to Lloyd James to read. There may be some books he could read well, I don't know. In Curse of Chalion, he seems to struggle simply to complete each sentence, intonation going up at random, and eventually wandering back down again, without any grasp of what the words that have just come out of his mouth might possibly mean. And I suspect that in fact he may not know what several of the words mean (and I don't mean ones Bujold invented, just English), because he mangles the pronunciation of several of them.
Harsh, harsh. I feel like I should apologize. But I love this book, and Lloyd James made listening to it once an agony, and listening to it more than once unthinkable.
If you want to see Bujold really stretching her wings and putting all her wit and intelligence and eloquence to great use....read the book on paper (and then get Kate Reading's reading of the semi-sequel Paladin of Souls, where the book and the performer are equally superb). Read it on paper, and then hope and pray that at some point, there will be another audio recording of it, with a reader who actually understands the prose and the story, and can do justice to both.
I took a chance on buying this book during one of the sales when it was marked down tremendously. I had no serious hope that it would be any good but I enjoyed it from beginning to end. The hero is such a deviation from the norm that it really captured my attention and kept it from being boring. I have already began purchasing other titles from this author!
I'm a fan of Lois McMaster Bujold and really enjoyed the novel, but Lloyd James' narration made the recording very difficult to get through. (He does not narrate the sequel, which is in much more capable hands.) While handling a number of characters is a challenge, good narrators know that cartoon voices are a poor way to handle a novel. The cartoonish voices are especially problematic because they are so random: at one point, though the novel is set in culture explicitly inspired by medieval Spain, a servant randomly develops a southern U.S. accent. They're also inconsistent, both with each other (at one point a character may have a distinctive vocal tick for an extended period, then dropping that tick several chapters later) and with the text (making perfectly serious and important characters sound like they stepped out of a Bug Bunny cartoon). Grover Gardner, Bernadette Dunne and Kate Reading have done Bujold's other novels, and it'd be great if one of them re-recorded this one.
The Curse of Chalion is one of two of Bujold's books that I truly love, the other being its sequel Paladin of Souls.
Lloyd James has Murdered it. When 'Teidez' is pronounced "tee-DEHZ' and 'Lupe' 'LOOP-ay', I can write it off as creative license, despite the shudder going down my spine. But when 'Betriz' is pronounced 'bee-TREHZ', alarm bells start ringing at deafening tones. The characters' accents are cliche, and sadly, adhering to the wrong stereotypes for the respective characters. There are random halts in the middle of sentences, and he insists on pronouncing 'wh-'s as 'hwh-'s, e.g. 'wheezing' as 'HUH-wheezing'. PLUS you can hear him swallowing his spit and drawing breath between chapters and sentences.
To sum up - EURGH.
But maybe that's just me; I generally am not a fantasy fan, preferring harder SF. But I liked the MV books so much, I had to try another by her. In this, the main character was interesting, and there were good tales along the way, & I cared about what happened to him & to the rest.
I probably would've given it another star had it been read by Grover Gardner, who did her MV books; he is tops as far as readers go on my list. Just wish he did more fiction.
Emergency physician and fantasy nerd in Chicago.
It's not a terrible book, the writing is quite good at times. Bujold's construction of the religion of Chalion is interesting and adds a nice layer of depth to the story.
Overall though this is not a fantasy story. It's more like historical fiction in a very plausibly European system. The magic that exists is minor and not at all charming.
Court intrigue, not war and wizards drive the plot.