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 love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
This is an original, well-conceived, well-written, exciting, and unpredictable historical-fantasy novel, featuring an unusual protagonist in Lupe dy Cazaril (Caz for short), a thirty-five-year-old ex-soldier who has been physically and emotionally damaged and wants only to live out his days quietly and out of sight, preferably working at menial tasks for charity, but who finds himself caught up in the complicated and dangerous political and spiritual affairs of his home state of Chalion. Bujold takes genre conventions like the weak king, the evil counselor, the innocent princess, the weathered hero, the dire curse, and the set of patriarchal and bickering medieval states and develops all of them in unexpected and satisfying ways, partly due to how carefully she works out her secondary world's religious system and gods so as to make the reader think in new ways about fate, free will, divinity, heaven, matter, and spirit. And she tells a good story with believably human characters we care about.
As for the reader, I came to enjoy Lloyd James voice and mannerisms very much, his hesitations, laughs, accents, all work (even when he seems to don a southern accent for an old former court woman), and he infuses the story with extra wit, humor, emotion, and intelligence.
All in all an enjoyable book difficult to turn off.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Lois McMaster Bujold has long been esteemed in the science fiction genre, so I expected great things from The Curse of Chalion, and I'm happy to report that I wasn't disappointed. This is an excellent piece of work! Bujold's story is completely fresh, and the world-building and magic system are unique, too. I was hooked from page one and it proceeds at a pleasant pace with plenty of surprises and plot twists. Characterization is deep and somehow Bujold made me really like the main character, Cazaril, right from the start, even though he is not the type of hero I thought I preferred. As a psychologist, I especially appreciate how the characters realistically maintained their natural personalities throughout the story while maturing (or becoming more immature) as they grew from their experiences.
And, so importantly, The Curse of Chalion is beautifully written. I'd like to especially mention the dialogue, which I think is so hard for an author to get just right. Some authors make their characters so annoyingly quick-witted and perfect in speech that it's completely unbelievable. Lois McMaster Bujold characters pause, hem and haw, and say "um" just like I do. And they occasionally have conversations that provide a dry comic relief (I laughed out loud many times).
Lloyd James is an excellent reader who has a nice voice and uses different voices and speaking styles for each character. It is very easy to follow and pleasant to listen to. I highly recommend this format for Curse of Chalion.
Curse of Chalion is the first in a series of books which are set in the same world and have some of the same characters, but which can be read independently. So, Curse can stand alone if you like, but I think you'll want to go on to Paladin of Souls because it's highly decorated (see above) and it tells a story which you'll want to hear after reading Curse.
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.
I'm a Teen Services librarian at a Public Library. I love fantasy, history, realistic fiction, memoirs, sci-fi, and YA fiction/fantasy.
This is the first time I've ever listened to this author, but she's quickly become one of my favorites. With this wonderful fantasy which is part mystery and part thrilling political tale, she has created an entertaining and masterful story replete with characters you will come to love. Caz, the star of the tale, is multifaceted. He will make you laugh, smile, chuckle and wonder. His wry humor and ironic narration make the story even more fascinating than all the action, setting and plot can do; and they are as finely wrought as any of her characters. Fully drawn, you come to believe that Caz is a living, breathing man, and at the end, you wish you might continue your relationship with him even longer. Beautifully written, read aloud by a narrator who sounds just as you would expect Caz to sound, this intriguing story will make you wish it would never end.
I almost quit listening in the firstfew chapters, due to my intense dislike of the narrator. However I'm gladI kept listening!
And as something to look forward to, the narrator of the 2nd and 3rd books is FAB.
I was tired of dragons and make believe creatures. This was a wonderful combination of fantasy and reality without getting too bizarre. I really enjoyed it. Others commented on the narrator, I personally enjoyed his voice and the way he conveyed the emotions of the character.
Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.
I ended up liking this book alot. Although I have to say it took me a while to get into it. I found the narrator's voice of Lord Caz to be annoying at first as well. However, by the end I liked the way he vocalized the different characters and I was very into the story. I listened to the follow up book about Lady Ista and actually liked that one a bit better. Overall a pleasant listen.