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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

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  •  
    Raven maine 05-12-09
    Raven maine 05-12-09 Member Since 2007

    Anne

    HELPFUL VOTES
    40
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    46
    5
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    2
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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.

    11 of 14 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
    REVIEWS
    20
    2
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    0
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    Overall
    "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
  •  
    Gary San Clemente, CA, USA 08-26-04
    Gary San Clemente, CA, USA 08-26-04 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    31
    2
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    0
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    "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
  •  
    Bernadette Dayton, OH, USA 01-04-10
    Bernadette Dayton, OH, USA 01-04-10 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    29
    1
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    0
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    "Lovely Book, Appalling Narrator"

    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.

    11 of 15 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
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    4
    1
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    0
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    "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
  •  
    Victoria Taylor Mill, KY, USA 02-07-05
    Victoria Taylor Mill, KY, USA 02-07-05 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    88
    ratings
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    388
    9
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    "I picked this book on a whim-and WOW"

    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.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GS 05-09-08
    GS 05-09-08 Listener Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    178
    ratings
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    397
    45
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    13
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    "Brilliant Novel with top line narration!"

    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!

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JPaladin 11-07-14
    JPaladin 11-07-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    119
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    108
    67
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    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Loren Indiana, USA 08-24-13
    Loren Indiana, USA 08-24-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great story. Stands on its own."

    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.

    Strongly recommended.

    – Loren

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    H. West Roxbury, MA, USA 04-08-13
    H. West Roxbury, MA, USA 04-08-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    103
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    55
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    Story
    "Can we try that again? Please?"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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