October 17, 2003

Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Capsule summary: We loved it.

I've been known to read a new Bujold novel to Jane in one weekend; my throat was sore for a week. This one took us eight evenings, because I read no more than four chapters a night to save my voice. (I did overdo it on the last day, so we could finish up.)

This is a sequel to The Curse of Chalion, though it can be read independently. It concerns Ista dy Chalion, the dowager royina (she's the mother of Royina Iselle, the reigning monarch). During the dark days of the curse which was the topic of the previous book, Ista was thought to be mad. In fact, she pretty well was mad, thanks to getting a really raw deal from the gods.

See, this is a fantasy series, but it's almost what you might call theological science fiction. That is to say, Bujold has invented a theology (a very interesting one, I might add) and a religion to go with it--and then, having set up the rules, she's seeing where they take her.

So Ista is now a youngish 40, she's no longer mad, and she's being stifled by idiot ladies-in-waiting who treat her like she's made of china and won't leave her alone for fear she'll throw herself off of a tower. She married Roya Ias as a young woman, was caught up in the curse, and has had little but hell since then. She finally has a chance to have a life of her own, if she can rid herself of her protectors. If only the gods will leave her alone...

...but they won't, of course.

Posted by Will Duquette at October 17, 2003 07:45 PM

Phil said:

I must remember Lois Bujold's name when I think of new books investigate. Thanks for the encouragement.

Will Duquette said:

She's really one of the best storytellers I know, and endlessly inventive. I don't believe she's ever written a book that was just like the previous book.