Prince Boleso has been slain by a noblewoman he had intended to defile. It falls to Lord Ingrey kin Wilfcliff to transport the prince to his burial place and to bring the accused to judgment....
Young, pregnant Fawn Bluefield has just fled her family's farm to the city of Glassforge, where she encounters a patrol of the enigmatic soldier-sorcerers known as Lakewalkers....
On his way to his betrothal, young Lord Penric comes upon a riding accident with an elderly lady on the ground, her maidservant and guardsmen distraught....
Leo Graf was just your average highly efficient engineer: mind your own business, fix what's wrong, and move on to the next job....
Fiametta Beneforte dreamed of making beautiful and enchanted objets d'art, but alas her magician-goldsmith father was more likely to have her scrub the kiln than study magic....
Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment....
The Hokkaran Empire has conquered every land within their bold reach - but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people....
An adventurous epic fantasy about a man who is forced to leave his comfortable life and find his fortune among goddesses, pirates, war, and dragons....
Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure....
In a war that makes no sense, ten armies fight separately against a single foe....
Centuries in the past, mankind fought a seemingly unbeatable adversary from sector to sector across the Spiral Arm until the war ground to a standstill and the Enemy withdrew....
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life....
Though it goes against all of his instincts, Lerris must learn to use his magical powers in an orderly way before his wanderjahr, or fall prey to Chaos....
Refusing to marry a pig farmer and joining the army, even if it means never seeing her family again, Paksenarrion begins an adventure that enables her to restore an overthrown ruler.....
It has been 20 years since the end of the war. The dictatorial Augurs, once thought of almost as gods, were overthrown and wiped out during the conflict....
Nona is selected to learn combat and finds herself at the center of an epic battle for empire on the outer reaches of a dying universe....
The journey through the Serpent Spire won't be easy, but Corin won't stop until he gets his brother back....
Honor Harrington has been exiled to Basilisk station. The vindictive superior who sent her there wants her to fail. But he made one mistake: he's made her mad....
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.
"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)
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.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
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.
53 of 58 people found this review helpful
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.
22 of 24 people found this review helpful
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!
20 of 22 people found this review helpful
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
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.
21 of 25 people found this review helpful
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
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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
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!
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
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.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Bujold creates a complex mythology to frame this fantasy world. No details in this story are superfluous or inconsequential. Everything proceeds from one event to the next as logically as they are unpredictable. The narrator differentiates between voices very well and I found his voice pleasing to listen to. Definitely recommend.
I was a little nervous about listening to this book, as I read it years ago, and loved it, and didn't want it ruined by a poor narrator. I had never heard of Lloyd James, and so wasn't sure what to expect. It was magical. Mr James didn't so much narrate this book, as he performed it, and he did a wonderful job of it. As I said, I read the book years ago, and so was familiar with the story, so I knew that I would enjoy it. I can't praise the audio version of this book highly enough. The other two books in the Chalion series, "Paladin of Souls," which for me was ruined by Kate Reading, and "The Hallowed Hunt," passably well read by Marguerite Gavin, will most likely end up being returned. I wish that Lloyd James had been the narrator of the other two books, I might have kept them if that had been the case. I will be looking out for more books performed by Lloyd James, who is now among my favourite narrators.
Absorbing and riveting, with a protagonist who is heroic in a realistic way. The narrator was also very engaging.
Slow at first but never dull, the story builds irresistibly to an awesome conclusion. Characters are strong and well rounded and the whole thing is a joyous rollercoaster.
I enjoyed the reading, injecting plenty of personality, if a tiny bit over the top in places.
What disappointed you about The Curse of Chalion?
The reading was poorly done. It was if the reader had not read it through before reading and failed to anticipate how much breath he would need for the next sentence. He was also terrible at placing emphasis.