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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 (2166 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Terri Broomfield, CO, United States 04-12-12
    Terri Broomfield, CO, United States 04-12-12 Member Since 2008

    The deal of the day is awesome! Sci-Fi, Fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, thrillers with sarcasm are my favorites.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "What makes a hero... LMB knows"

    I have yet to read any of LMB's work that does not play the full range of my emotions. She has an incredible knack of turning a person cursed with seemingly unconquerable disabilities of the mind, body or/and heart, giving them an impossible set of tasks and turning them into a hero that takes the reader on a wonderful adventure.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the world she has spun with the Chalion series. It does a brilliant job at showing the multi layers that make up each true humans.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pete Melbourne, Florida 08-17-04
    Pete Melbourne, Florida 08-17-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    45
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    "Excellent Fantasy... Epic in feel, finite in pace"

    Although "Paladin of Souls" ties to this book and thereby engenders the label "series", the satisfaction of completing this well told tale with an actual ending cannot be denied. In the genre of Epic Fantasy with it's continuing storylines and characters, "The Curse of Chalion" encapsulates that flowing grandness into a single volume and deservedly leaves us wanting more. Not needing it, wanting it. That being said, Bujold's mastery of her craft is evident here with an intruiging deep portrayal of her protagonist, Caz. His journey is profound and heartfelt as it winds it's way along it's surprising path. The reading is excellent and kept me immersed throughout.

    Well done by all.

    45 of 50 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy 12-06-12
    Amy 12-06-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incredible."
    Would you listen to The Curse of Chalion again? Why?

    I finished this book and wanted to hear it from the start again. Bujold's style of writing in this book seems especially suited to the audio market. The insights dy Cazaril shares draw you into his world, his perspective and his care for the people around him. The first person, internal dialogue and the well drawn characters, coupled with the intense development of plot events made it an incredible listening experience.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Curse of Chalion?

    One moment? Are you kidding? There were far too many.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. There were moments when I felt the need to pause the audio, to take in something that had just happened. The first person perspective and my growing attachment to the characters made the events very personal.


    Any additional comments?

    I would very highly recommend this book.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 03-07-12
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 03-07-12 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable character-driven fantasy"

    I'm already a fan of Bujold's science fiction Vorkosigan series, though it's a little pulpy. This is the first fantasy novel of hers that I've read, and I found the writing and story a cut above the aforementioned books. The characters are interesting and the protagonist, a now crippled and humbled former nobleman soldier with his best years seemingly behind him, is somewhat atypical. Unlike many other fantasy writers, Bujold focuses on intrigue and relationships over swordplay and sorcery, though the plot's not without the latter. She also develops a tasteful but interesting theology.

    While the story gets a little conventional in places, I enjoyed my time in Chalion's world. As for the audiobook experience, I thought the narrator sounded a little slow and medicated at first, but once I got used to his voice, it was fine.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mysticalsister San Francisco, CA, United States 10-30-09
    Mysticalsister San Francisco, CA, United States 10-30-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Action, Magic, Romance = Absolute Heaven!"

    A grizzled galley slave turns out to be a hero, and a very high magician. And that's just the beginning!

    For anyone looking for a new series, or a new brilliant story teller, or a great reader -- look no further. Curse of Chalion is brilliant. I promise you will fall in love with the characters. LMB has a unique ability to create a world that comes alive. I enjoyed every minute of my time in Chalion, and know I will revisit it over and over again.

    Also: Do NOT miss the sequel, Paladin of Souls. It is every bit as good. And when you've finished both of them, start the Sharing Knife series. It's exquisite, too! Then, it's on to the Vor books!

    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Marie Honolulu, HI United States 08-03-04
    S. Marie Honolulu, HI United States 08-03-04 Listener Since 2003

    S. Marie

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An imperfect hero captures your heart."

    Though somewhat lacking in action, this tale of court intrigue and death magic held me in thrall. As in real life, the main characters were neither purely good nor evil. And most are far from perfect. The main protagonist is a case in point, he is an embittered, semi-crippled man, who is neither young nor handsome, yet his plight grabs the reader and the portrayal of his every action rings true-to-life.. This is a solid story unlike any other fantasy I?ve yet read, and well worth the book credit.

    28 of 33 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 12-20-11
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 12-20-11 Member Since 2009

    Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliant in every respect"

    When if first heard the voice of the protagonist, Lord Cazaril in The Curse of Chalion, I thought oh brother, this is not going to be good. Was I ever wrong. The narrator Lloyd James was brilliant. This is one of those rare books where the hero is about as reluctant or prepared as one can be to be a hero. But quite the spectacular one he is. This is the perfect fairytale.

    While only middle-aged, in those days (whenever that was), he is certainly not young and virile. No, he is beaten-down and crippled by years on a slave ship. But his heart is strong and his mind is as sharp as ever and he rises to every occasion to meet and successfully deal with adversity. Adversity does not often come in the form of knockdown, drag out, hand-to-hand combat or epic wars but skillful and intelligent (often in spite of himself) dealings in royal politics and usually not so adroit magic. And this is a magical story.

    While not originally drawn to the book by the court intrigue and romance, what the magic and even religion contributed, it all worked to draw me in deeply to a captivating world and a very sweet story. This was another example of a narrator adding a whole other dimension to the book. I loved it.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric C. Zawadzki Minneapolis, MN, United States 05-10-08
    Eric C. Zawadzki Minneapolis, MN, United States 05-10-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    7
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    Overall
    "Good, solid read"

    This book hasn't changed fantasy fiction forever, but I definitely enjoyed reading it and would read another book by this author. The world-building isn't amazingly cutting edge, but it's solid and internally consistent. The protagonist isn't utterly unique in the genre, but he's sympathetic, and the supporting characters serve their intended purposes. The plot is relatively straightforward, though there are a few delightful little twists. The writing style relies on a lot of internal monologue and narrative exposition, but this is hardly the only book in the genre to do so, and I've seen many books that did it less successfully. The narrator does a good job distinguishing the voices of the fairly large cast of characters.

    In all, I was completely satisfied with this book and its presentation.

    16 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Sunrise, FL, USA 12-17-04
    Christopher Sunrise, FL, USA 12-17-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Perfect storytelling"

    The Curse of Chalion by Louise McMaster Bujold

    This was my most recent Audible listen, and is most definitely one of the best single (non series) audiobooks I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.

    This book is not epic fantasy, high fantasy, or dark fantasy, it falls somewhere in what I would call middle fantasy.

    It has a low-magic feel, and is more character driven than any other fantasy piece I can remember. It would definitely appeal to mainstream fiction fans. I don't have any negative comments on this book, it was a fine example of what a fantasy novel should be.

    This book gets a perfect 5 from me, and that's saying something, because I don't think I've ever given a perfect score to a fantasy novel before, not even to Tolkien, sorry.

    20 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric minneapolis, MN, United States 05-10-08
    Eric minneapolis, MN, United States 05-10-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Good, solid read"

    This book hasn't changed fantasy fiction forever, but I definitely enjoyed reading it and would read another book by this author. The world-building isn't amazingly cutting edge, but it's solid and internally consistent. The protagonist isn't utterly unique in the genre, but he's sympathetic, and the supporting characters serve their intended purposes. The plot is relatively straightforward, though there are a few delightful little twists. The writing style relies on a lot of internal monologue and narrative exposition, but this is hardly the only book in the genre to do so, and I've seen many books that did it less successfully. The narrator does a good job distinguishing the voices of the fairly large cast of characters.

    In all, I was completely satisfied with this book and its presentation.

    18 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 162 results PREVIOUS1217NEXT
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  • James
    CheshamUnited Kingdom
    11/29/10
    Overall
    "Consider this an investment in pleasure"

    For brevity:

    Very cleverly constructed, balanced and interesting plot, enlivened by complex, humorous, often humane characters and pleasant dialogue.

    The reader is a pleasant surprise and the pace of the book is well done.

    In greater depth:

    It is always a pleasure to see such tightly plotted stories working so finely as a composition of ideas, characters and narrative. There were several moments where I was able to delight in the pleasure of an event subtly foreshadowed, the soft click of apparently random puzzle pieces clicking together. While the story is not as convoluted as an epic, or as meticulously involved as a character study, it certainly is witty and intelligent writing amongst the best in fantasy.

    A charming and sympathetic male protagonist written with great panache is also a rare present to cherish and here, as with other works by talented novelists, is another to join the stable of memorable characters in fantasy literature.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Deborah
    Chipping Norton, United Kingdom
    4/5/10
    Overall
    "A wonderful, absorbing book..."

    Well - now what do I do? I've been captivated by this for the past few weeks, rationing myself to only listening while I'm at the gym to make the tedium of the treadmill bearable, and boy, did this book help!
    I thought this was beautifully read, and I didn't find any of the problems mentioned by other reviewers. The narrator deals with several principal characters well, coping with males and females, and I loved the way he allowed the principal character Caz to develop slowly through the book.
    Problems? The names are all slightly Italian'ish, and didn't sit well in my head, so I spent a fair bit of time unsure as to who was who, but I did get there!
    This is a lovely, slow measured build of a book, that holds the attention, never drags, and totally absorbs. Well worth the listen!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Jacey
    Huddersfield, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "My Favourite Bujold Fantasy"

    Cazaril, once courtier, courier/spy, captain and castle warder, now homeless, hungry and ragged, is a broken man, physically and mentally, seeking only a quiet refuge in a place in which he was once happy. To his surprise and extreme gratitude he is installed in the household of the Dowager Provincara, charged with the task of being tutor-secretary to her granddaughter Iselle, lively sister of the heir to Chalion's throne.



    Thus begins a sequence of events that takes Caz back to the capital, a seething hotbed of poisonous intrigue with a weak and sickly ruler and an ambitious chancellor. Murder, greed and betrayal are commonplace, but there are unexpected allies as well. A shadow hangs over the ruling house, also threatening Iselle and her brother. Gradually Caz unravels the origins of a curse, but not without deadly danger and drawing the attention of the Five Gods down on himself.



    Why do I like this book so much? Though it has plot in spades, the characterisation is what lifts it above the ordinary. Caz gradually rebuilds himself throughout the book despite, or perhaps partly because of being an unwitting tool of the gods. He never sees himself as extraordinary, even though he does extraordinary things. He retains integrity and honour and has a deep internal moral compass, yet he's not stuffy and owns a wry sense of humour.



    There's a love story in this too: true it's very subtle and on first reading you hardy notice it, but it plays out well.



    The story is a study of how one quiet but determined man can effect great change. It's a dialogue between free-will and divine intervention. Where does one stop and the other start?



    Bujold never disappoints, and of all her books this is my favourite. I wasn't sure I liked Lloyd James' narration to start off with (the American accent jarred a little) but it quickly grew on me. Highly recommended in both written and audio format.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Catriona
    Lincoln, United Kingdom
    1/14/10
    Overall
    "a story which develops well"

    I've read this as a book, so the plot was no surprise, but even so I took pleasure again in the development of our knowledge of the main character, Caz and of the world he lives in. What at first appears a simple medieval style fantasy novel of a world with it's own theology becomes deeper, more complex and a very satisfying story.
    I have marked it down slightly as I sometimes found the narrator's voice too intrusive, but I always find it a mark of a good book that I'll go about the house listening to the book rather than switch the radio on, which I certainly did in this case.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jessica
    LondonUnited Kingdom
    1/26/09
    Overall
    "Great book, reading a bit patchy"

    I love this book and the sequel, Paladin of Souls. Mostly the reading is very good, and does capture the emotions well. However, sometimes he does voices/accents which are a bit overdone, eg the "yokel" accent near the beginning of part 2. And, annoyingly, the reader occasionally stresses or breaks up the sentences in a way that makes a nonsense of what is being said - I'm not clear why as mostly it's good. As I say, a very good book, but not the ideal reading of it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tasha Derrett
    9/8/08
    Overall
    "Gripping from beginning to end"

    This is the first book by Lois McMaster Bujold I've listened to and I am now a fan. She has created a cast of believable characters for an intriguing story set in a world that has depth and colour. Lloyd James does a great job of the narration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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