December 07, 2003

The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Recently I was laid off from my job at a state funded non-profit due to budget cuts. I knew for two months ahead that this was going to happen, giving me plenty of time to make plans in my head of all the housework I would get done and all the cool projects I could work on and all the great books I could read with all the wonderful free time. And then just before my last day at work, my husband found a better, saner, higher paying job relieving me of an immediate need to take any old job that comes my way to keep the mortgage paid. Phew, I can sit back and relax and enjoy this time around the holidays.

Well, what really happens is that one day you are part of an organization and the next you aren't and the abrupt change leaves you disoriented and somehow in mourning for something that's not specific. I was wandering around the house in my pajamas all day and taking too many naps and drinking too much coffee and eating way too much chocolate until I realized I need to get out of the house more and set up a routine to keep myself from slowly getting weird. So now I visit the library at least weekly and reward myself for a morning doing nasty housework chores with an afternoon at the local coffee shop with a book and a cup of ridiculously expensive coffee. And it's working. I started reading again and knitting again and stopped moping. Moping gets you nowhere fast.

So, on my last weekly visit to the library I was browsing the sci-fi/fantasy shelves looking for something my son might like that he hasnít already read. I saw this book by Bujold which rang little bells in the back of my head due, I think, to a review of Will's of its sequel. It made its way into my bag of books. I picked it up one afternoon and couldnít put it down. I was as enchanted with this book as with her Miles Vorkosigan series.

What she does with the military in the Vorkosigan series, she does with religion and clerics in this novel. She takes what is at least nominally familiar to most of her audience and tweaks it enough to make it fresh and realistic and yet still allow herself latitude to be creative. And she sets it in a world that resembles medieval Europe with Church and State being almost completely intertwined. There's kind of a fun little nod to Chaucer near the end that amused me no end. She does some very interesting things with free will, fate and divine intervention and how they relate to the lives of human beings.

The best thing about Bujold, though, is her incredible narrative skills. She tells the most wonderful, believable stories in a style that's articulate and clear and descriptive. I can't wait to find the next in the series at the library next week.

Posted by Deb English at December 7, 2003 07:31 PM