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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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,650
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    841
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    316
  • 2 Stars
    100
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    56

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    463
  • 3 Stars
    163
  • 2 Stars
    44
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    38

Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

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

  • 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 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Pleasantly surprised!

The narrator skillfully and uniquely adapted his voice to the main character's pesonality. Truly entertaining!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Loren
  • Indiana, USA
  • 08-24-13

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

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Best non-epic fantasy in existence

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • K1a55
  • Janesville, Minnesota USA
  • 02-19-12

great story, pitiful narrator

What made the experience of listening to The Curse of Chalion the most enjoyable?

I had to stop listening to Lloyd James's performance one quarter of the way through, but the story was so good I bought the book to read it myself. He pauses where there is no reason, then starts up again to finish the sentence. Half of his characters have strange stutters and stammers and throat clearing. He seems to have no idea what he's reading, he just likes hearing himself.

Would you be willing to try another one of Lloyd James???s performances?

I will never try another performance by him.

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

I had to force myself to listen to him because the story is terrific. I had to stop listening because his performance was distracting me from the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Haylee
  • Crossett, AR, United States
  • 10-23-11

Enthralling read

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great Novel, Flawed Narrator

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kelly
  • SINGAPORE, Singapore
  • 11-29-10

The narrator ought to be shot

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Quite entertaining

This is one of those books where the heros are noble and the villains are evil. And there is a real pleasure in listening to them each get their due. I found myself staying up much later than I intended to keep listening. A great listen for a long car ride. It is perhaps a chapter or two long (I got the feeling the author liked the characters so much that she did not want to let them go just yet) though you too will probably not want to see the book end either.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful