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    The Curse of Chalion
by:  Lois McMaster Bujold
Review by Tina Morgan


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interview with Lois McMaster Bujold.

When I opened the cover of The Curse of Chalion, I'm not sure what I expected to find. Having read some of the long-winded tedious explanations of society and religion other authors have been putting out, I know I wasn't expecting much. I was most pleasantly surprised. This was not an exercise in world building without regard to plot or characterization, but an extremely well crafted story that keep me eagerly reading from cover to cover.

Cazaril, the story's protagonist is a carefully thought out character of surprising depths. The story opens with Cazaril back in his homeland after being sold into slavery by his traitorous commanding officer. Penniless and in poor health from his nearly two years as a galley slave, he appeals to the Dowager Provincara for a position in her household. Willing to take on the most menial job, he is astounded to find she wants him to become secretary and tutor to the Royesse Iselle, half sister to the ruler of all Chalion.

As the Royesse's personal secretary, duty demands he travel to the capital city where he comes face to face with Dondo Jironal, the very officer that sold him into slavery. Court intrigue follows as the Royesse faces an arranged marriage to Dondo and Cazaril offers his soul to the Bastard god in exchange for her freedom.

Ms. Bujold expertly weaves the world of the five gods into a compelling backdrop against which her characters battle for life and honor.

Throughout the book, I noticed that not only was the writing of high quality but I could not find one misspelled or mistyped word. It has been the topic of discussion in more than one writers group, that the quality of writing/editing has been slipping even amongst some of the most well-known authors. Having recently read several of Ms. Bujold's novels, I can say this is not the case in any of them. Fifty pages into a novel by another fantasy writer with the same publisher, I have found four typos. Different editors? Possibly. Is Ms. Bujold more careful when proofreading her work? Could be. But whatever the reason, her work is always very professionally presented and a pleasure to read.

I highly recommend The Curse of Chalion even to those who do not normally read fantasy stories. You will not find any of the heavy handed philosophies so many authors like to expound upon for pages upon pages. Nor will you find a condescending, 'here let me guide you through this because you can't possibly understand' attitude. Ms. Bujold trusts her readers to understand her stories and to be intelligent enough to bring their own thoughts and imagination into the world she creates. She writes in a very straightforward style, creating characters that you find yourself cheering on and plots that leave you holding your breath in anticipation.

I give The Curse of Chalion
- * * * * *

Rating Guide:
* * * * * = Un-put-downable, excellent reading!
* * * * = Good value, interesting reading.
* * * = Had potential, but could have been better.
* * = Slow, difficult to read, could have been improved.
* = Imminently forgettable.


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