by Louise McMaster Bujold
The Curse of Chalion
Eos, August, 2001.
Hardcover, 448 pages.
Lupe dy Cazaril was a decorated war hero and favored courtier. But a devious enemy left his name off a list of men to be ransomed after a disastrous siege, and he was sold into slavery for years. When he finally regains his freedom, he is an older, broken man. He makes his way to the royal household where he once served, and to his surprise, is offered the job of tutoring the Royesse Iselle, the sister to the heir to the throne of Chalion. When the entire household is recalled to the royal court at Cardegoss, Cazaril reluctantly accompanies them. It is immediately clear to Cazaril that something is terribly wrong in Cardegoss. The king seems to be suffering from a very odd illness, Iselle's brother, the heir to the throne is making some most unsavory friends, and Cazaril's old enemies are alive, well and bent on destroying him. It appears that Cazaril's fighting days are far from over, as he is forced to defend against an evil magic that is slowly destroying the kingdom of Chalion.
Multiple Hugo award-winning author Lois McMaster Bujold creates another fully-realized and fascinating fantasy world in The Curse of Chalion. Departing from the tradition of having a young, inexperienced hero, Ms. Bujold instead gives us Cazaril, an older hero (although he's only in his 30s, his experiences have aged him quite a bit) who is close to his breaking point. As Cazaril encounters his youthful students, their enthusiasm and joy for living help to heal his tortured soul. There is enough excitement, adventure and dark magic here to satisfy any fantasy fan, and enough beautiful, expressive writing to thrill any reader who wearies of some of the hack writing which exists in the fantasy field today. This is an excellent addition to this talented author's impressive body of work.
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This review was published in the September, 2001 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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