Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Curse of Chalion

This month’s book (well, this month and next) is Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Curse of Chalion. It won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and was nominated for the Hugo, Locus Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards, subsequently vindicated with the sequel Paladin of Souls, which won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards for best novel. Bujold has actually won the Hugo four times (a record only beaten by Robert Heinlein), Locus three times and the Nebula twice with her novels, making her one of the most feted SF&F authors.

The Curse of Chalion is a fantasy book based heavily, though not excessively, on the time of the Spanish unification under Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. This adds an interesting Iberian flavour, contrasting to the British style of so many fantasies

Do check out the author’s website, http://www.dendarii.com/chalion.html, which contains character lists, maps, and other optional information.
From the press release:

Cazaril was a soldier, a slave, a courtier -- and carries the scars to prove it. Now, broken in body and spirit, he seeks menial work in the household where he once served as page. To his surprise, he is offered the position of secretary-tutor to the granddaughter of his former liege-lady -- young Royesse Iselle, strong-willed sister of the heir to Chalion's throne. But his new post takes Cazaril to the place he fears most: the royal court at Cardegoss, where powerful adversaries who once consigned him to chains now hold power over the realm. Even as he confronts enemies who have neither forgotten nor forgiven his past, he falls in love with the beautiful, courageous Lady Betriz. When he discovers that an uncanny ill-fortune hangs over the royal family -- and that the curse of Chalion hangs over him, as well -- he comes to realize he is the only one who can prevent this insidious evil from slowly conquering the kingdom and its people.

So we have sword and sorcery, theology and politics, all wrapped up by a master storyteller that I am ashamed not to have read earlier. I have now finished the book (I didn’t intent to, I could not help it) and now have to seek out the sequel...

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