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!
Great book. There are flaws: I felt the narrator was ill-suited to the story's world, perhaps the genre in general - his tone was too plain and I didn't like the accents he gave several of the characters. I didn't like the way the main character stuttered, but it turned out to be part of the text itself, and purposely done.
In fact, this book turned out to be masterfully crafted. Every word in the story is deliberate, and if you keep with it through the dubious twists and developments, you'll see the grander scheme of the plot take shape. Cazaril's character does start as an extremely non-heroic protagonist, but his unimpressiveness serves well to contrast the growth he undergoes through the story.
At the end of the book, I was not disappointed. The quality of the story pulled me through the shortcomings of the narration so that I hardly noticed it. I recommend it, and I intend to read the next one.
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.
Cazaril is my homeboy!
Seriously, this book is awesome. I first listened to it about 5 years ago and I still find myself coming back to it every few months for a re-listen.
I've read plenty of epic fantasy and sword and sorcery type stuff. This is neither, but, whatever it is, you should read it.
Everything about this one is a winner. Cool, cool story, super characters, nicely built world and wicked finish. There's something about the maimed, self-effacing hero that Bujold got so right in this book.
This is one to recommend to anyone from 13-93.
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.
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 know I liked the book when I read it initially. The narrator does not fit well with the story. He sounds clipped, or bored, but not particularly involved. His accents are fleeting and inconsistent. Occasionally, the accents are just strange, like when he drops into a southern drawl. Really? In a book with a castle on its cover and a prince and princess as main characters? Unfortunately, the reading is so discordant that I struggled to listen.
The world Bujold creates is complete and consistent. The plot is intriguing and the characters worth meeting.