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