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The Curse of Chalion | [Lois McMaster Bujold]

The Curse of Chalion

Amidst the decaying splendor and poisonous intrigue of Chalion's ancient capital, Cazaril is forced to confront not only powerful enemies but also the malignant curse that clings to the royal household, trapping him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation, and death for as long as he dares walk the five-fold pathway of the gods.
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Publisher's Summary

Lord Cazaril has been, in turn, courtier, castle-warder, and captain; now he is but a crippled ex-galley slave seeking nothing more than a menial job in the kitchens of the Dowager Provincara, the noble patroness of his youth. But Cazaril finds himself promoted to the exalted and dangerous position of tutor to Iselle, the beautiful, fiery sister of the heir to Chalion's throne.

Amidst the decaying splendor and poisonous intrigue of Chalion's ancient capital, Cazaril is forced to confront not only powerful enemies but also the malignant curse that clings to the royal household, trapping him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation, and death for as long as he dares walk the five-fold pathway of the gods.

©2004 Lois McMaster Bujold; (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"Bujold weaves a convincing and captivating fantasy world, well researched, with magic that works and gods that live without destroying the balance of this medieval society....A finely balanced mixture of adventure, swordplay, court intrigue, romance, magic, and religion makes this book a delightful read." (School Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (2314 )
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  •  
    Raven maine 05-12-09
    Raven maine 05-12-09 Member Since 2007

    Anne

    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
    ratings
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    46
    5
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    "green with envy"

    So Rich in detail that it made me feel apart of this brillant work. My review is a humble one not flowery or really discriptive at all but it was one of only a few that I did not want to end. Hung on every word and loved it all. Hope that this helps. Enjoy I am green with envy that you get to experience her work for the first time.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JPaladin 11-07-14
    JPaladin 11-07-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    138
    ratings
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    114
    73
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    FOLLOWING
    29
    17
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    Performance
    Story
    "Very different, thoughtful read"

    You follow a broken man back from complete destitution into the heart of a political & mythical struggle.

    Yet, this isn't the tried powerless learns to be powerful story-line. It takes you along on a somewhat complicated and usual path. While there is some action, it is far from action packed.

    I would recommend it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson 01-02-11
    Jefferson 01-02-11 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1661
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    253
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    15
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    Performance
    Story
    "An Original Metaphysical Historical Fantasy"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Heiner Provo, UT USA 04-27-09
    B. Heiner Provo, UT USA 04-27-09 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    2
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    "The end is worth the flaws in the journey"

    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.

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 12-30-10
    Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 12-30-10 Member Since 2014

    I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beautifully written, excellent on audio"

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Ann Arbor, MI, United States 07-12-07
    Deborah Ann Arbor, MI, United States 07-12-07 Member Since 2004

    I'm a Teen Services librarian at a Public Library. I love fantasy, history, realistic fiction, memoirs, sci-fi, and YA fiction/fantasy.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    197
    3
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    Overall
    "The Curse of Chalion"

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Concrete, WA, USA 10-19-05
    Patricia Concrete, WA, USA 10-19-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    57
    ratings
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    19
    17
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    2
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    "Worth getting into"

    This was my first book by LMB and I am not disappointed. In fact I am currently getting ready to listen to the next book, Paladin of Souls. I have to admit there is a reason I have rated it only 4 stars and if I knew how to do half stars I would give it another half star. My reason for this is because I had a hard time getting into the story at first. I found it a bit dificult to understand who is what and what the religion or superstitions of the culture are. I had to start it over a few times in the begining until it just didn't matter to me the who's and what fors. After getting along to the next cd I finally kept it going and got caught into what really matters in this story - the characters themselves. I loved the narrator's voices. He did a fantastic job on Cazaril....I nearly fell in love with him. I really don't want to get into describing what the story was about. I just want to say....its worth getting into but just be patient in the begining...it may take a few tries.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary San Clemente, CA, USA 08-26-04
    Gary San Clemente, CA, USA 08-26-04 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    31
    2
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    0
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    Overall
    "Not too heavy, but entertaining"

    Certainly well worth listening to. It is a bit predictable, kind of a feel good type story. Character development is very good, and the characters ARE interesting. I am sad the 2nd book isnt available on Audible, I had to order from Amazon to read!!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dianna mason, OH, USA 07-31-09
    Dianna mason, OH, USA 07-31-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "A nearly perfect book"

    This is one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to. The plot is subtle and surprizing, the narrator is more of a perfomer than narrator -- I believed he was Caz. I was so emotionally attached to him I needed to listen again once I finished.

    The philosphy espoused by the religion central to the story is moving -- through our own free will and choices we make the world a better or worse place but surrendering your will to god allows you to bring their grace and gifts into the world -- beautifully articulated.

    And to top it off, there is a occult magic, gentle romance and battle action. Highly reccommended!

    However, the second book in this world -- Palladin of souls does not live up to the promise of the first.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Winn CA USA 11-26-05
    Debbie Winn CA USA 11-26-05 Member Since 2002

    kaelesa

    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
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    19
    6
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    0
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    Overall
    "Outstanding Storytelling"

    This book caught me up right from the beginning. The characters are so well drawn they become real - you care what happens to them. The narrator of this book was excellent, conveying the essense of the characters completely with his vocal skill. I've listened to the book a few times and find it as engaging every time. LMB has created a world of intriguing characters, a theology that is wonderful in it's complexity and a story that is outstanding.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
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