Cover image for The curse of Chalion
Title:
The curse of Chalion
Author:
Bujold, Lois McMaster.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : EOS, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
442 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Reading Level:
920 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.7 27.0 71092.

Reading Counts RC High School 8.5 34 Quiz: 27714 Guided reading level: NR.
ISBN:
9780380979011
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

In a dazzling display of invention and storytelling, the incomparable Lois McMaster Bujold offers us the razor-keen edge of a very different sword...

The Curse of Chalion

On the eve of the Daughter's Day -- the grand celebration that will honor the Lady of Spring, one of the five reigning deities -- a man broken in body and spirit makes his way slowly down the road to Valenda. A former courtier and soldier, Cazaril has survived indignity and horrific torture as a slave aboard an enemy galley. Now he seeks nothing more than a menial job in the kitchens of the Dowager Provincara, in the noble household where he served as page in his youth.

But the gods have greater plans for this humbled man. Welcomed warmly, clothed and fed, he is named, to his great surprise, secretary tutor to the Royesse Iselle -- the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is destined to be the next ruler of the land. But the assignment must ultimately carry Cazaril to the one place he fears even more than the sea: to the royal court of Cardegoss, rife with intrigues and lethal treacheries.

In Cardegoss, the powerful enemies who once placed Cozoril in chains and bound him to a Roknori oar now occupy the most lofty positions in the realm, beneath only the Roya himself. Yet something for more sinister than their scheming hangs like a sword over the royal family: a curse of the blood that taints not only those who would rule, but those who stand in their circle. The life and future of both Iselle and her entire blighted House of Cholion lie in dire peril. The only recourse left to her loyal, damaged servant is the employment of the darkest and most forbidden of magics -- a choice that Will indelibly mark Cazaril as a tool of the miraculous ... and trap him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation, and death for as long as he dares walk the five-fold pathway of the gods.

Only Robert A. Heinlein has won more Hugo Awards for Best Novel than Lois McMaster Bujold, a singularly lauded author whose work has been compared to Jane Austen's. Now channeling her remarkable storytelling genius in an exciting new direction, she creates a riveting tale rich in atmosphere, magic, character, and consequence that twists and turns in unanticipated ways. Much more than simply the next eagerly awaited tour de force by Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion is a stunning masterwork of fantastic invention that demonstrates the vast range of her astonishing tolents -- and elevates her into the pantheon of premier contemporary fantasists.


Author Notes

Science fiction and fantasy author Lois McMaster Bujold was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1949. After graduating from Ohio State University, she worked as a pharmacy technician at Ohio State University Hospitals. Her first short story was published in Twilight Zone Magazine in 1984 and her first three novels were published in 1986. She received the Nebula Award for Falling Free and The Mountains of Mourning and the Hugo Award for The Vor Game, Barrayar, Mirror Dance, The Mountains of Mourning, and Paladin of Souls. She also received the Locus award for Mirror Dance and Paladin of Souls, the Minnesota Book Award for Komarr, the Mythopoeic Award for The Curse of Chalion, and a Romantic Times 2003 Reviewers' Choice Award for Paladin of Souls. She is best known for her series featuring Miles Vorkosigan.

She currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In a nicely detailed and wittily accented (see the anecdote of the prince and the young sow) medieval world, Cazaril, a crippled soldier, is appointed tutor to the sister of the royal heir, thanks to the influence of the royal grandmother. The honor flings him head foremost into a cesspool of court intrigue, in which he encounters adolescent royals with wills (and won'ts) of iron, scheming courtiers (even the ones on his side have so few scruples that with friends like these...), and enemies from the past as well as new ones. To that predicament and the tension of wondering whether his physical ailments can be cured, add a magic-tainted evil with a historic pedigree, and Cazaril becomes another of Bujold's up-to-his-posterior-in-alligators heroes posthaste. The most negative thing to be said of the book is that others have done this kind of thing before. Few of those, however, have done it half as well, and any fan not fixated on Bujold for her Vorkosigan saga should thoroughly enjoy it. Indeed, here's hoping it launches a series of tales as well told as the Vorkosigan volumes. --Roland Green


Library Journal Review

Betrayed by an unknown enemy into slavery, former soldier and courtier Lupe dy Cazaril escapes his bondage and returns to the royal household he once served. Entrusted with the teaching of the sister to the heir to the throne of Chalion, Cazaril finds himself drawn into a tangled web of politics and dark magic as he battles a curse that threatens the lives and souls of a family he has come to love. The author of the "Vorkosigan" series of dynastic sf turns her hand as competently and engagingly to the fantasy genre in a tale of quiet heroism and self-sacrifice. Compelling characters and richly detailed world building make this a strong addition to fantasy collections.(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Iselle, the royesse (princess) of Chalion, and her lady-in-waiting, Bertriz, need a new tutor. Cazaril, the man chosen for the job, has been scarred, physically and mentally, from secret betrayals by the very people who now rule Chalion through Iselle's uncle, and who seek to control her younger brother, the heir, as well. To rescue the royesse, and save Chalion, Cazaril must play matchmaker between Iselle and the prince of another realm, fight off assassins, lift a century-old curse, and risk everything-learning not to run from his own love for Bertriz-along the way. Bujold weaves a convincing and captivating fantasy world, well researched, with magic that works and gods that live without destroying the balance of this medieval society. Cazaril's life is rich with detail, and plays a part in the conclusion. The villains are believably motivated. The young heroines are deeply sympathetic characters as well. Readers will find themselves rooting for the good guys, while still uncertain that all can end without at least one of them suffering a dire fate. A finely balanced mixture of adventure, swordplay, court intrigue, romance, magic, and religion makes this book a delightful read.-Paul Brink, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

The Curse of Chalion Chapter One Cazaril heard the mounted horsemen on the road before he saw them. He glanced over his shoulder. The well-worn track behind him curled up around a rolling rise, what passed for a hill on these high windy plains, before dipping again into the late-winter muck of Baocia's bony soil. At his feet a little rill, too small and intermittent to rate a culvert or a bridge, trickled greenly across the track from the sheep-cropped pastures above. The thump of hooves, jangle of harness, clink of bells, creak of gear and careless echo of voices came on at too quick a rhythm to be some careful farmer with a team, or parsimonious pack-men driving their mules. The cavalcade trotted around the side of the rise riding two by two, in full panoply of their order, some dozen men. Not bandits -- Cazaril let out his breath, and swallowed his unsettled stomach back down. Not that he had anything to offer bandits but sport. He trudged a little way off the track and turned to watch them pass. The horsemen's chain shirts were silvered, glinting in the watery morning sunlight, for show, not for use. Their tabards of blue, dyes almost matching one with another, were worked with white in the sigil of the Lady of Spring. Their gray cloaks were thrown back like banners in the breeze of their passing, pinned at their shoulders with silver badges that had all the tarnish polished off today. Soldier-brothers of ceremony, not of war; they would have no desire to get Cazaril's stubborn bloodstains on those clothes. To Cazaril's surprise, their captain held up a hand as they came near. The column crashed raggedly to a halt, the squelch and suck of the hooves trailing off in a way that would have had Cazaril's father's old horse-master bellowing grievous and entertaining insults at such a band of boys as this. Well, no matter. "You there, old fellow," the leader called across the saddlebow of his banner-carrier at Cazaril. Cazaril, alone on the road, barely kept his head from swiveling around to see who was being so addressed. They took him for some local farm lout, trundling to market or on some errand, and he supposed he looked the part: worn boots mud-weighted, a thick jumble of mismatched charity clothes keeping the chill southeast wind from freezing his bones. He was grateful to all the gods of the year's turning for every grubby stitch of that fabric, eh. Two weeks of beard itching his chin. Fellow indeed. The captain might with justice have chosen more scornful appellations. But...old? The captain pointed down the road to where another track crossed it. "Is that the road to Valenda?" It had been...Cazaril had to stop and count it in his head, and the sum dismayed him. Seventeen years since he had ridden last down this road, going off not to ceremony but to real war in the provincar of Baocia's train. Although bitter to be riding a gelding and not a finer warhorse, he'd been just as glossy-haired and young and arrogant and vain of his dress as the fine young animals up there staring down at him. Today, I should be happy for a donkey, though I had to bend my knees to keep from trailing my toes in the mud. Cazaril smiled back up at the soldier-brothers, fully aware of what hollowed-out purses lay gaping and disemboweled behind most of those rich facades. They stared down their noses at him as though they could smell him from there. He was not a person they wished to impress, no lord or lady who might hand down largesse to them as they might to him; still, he would do for them to practice their aristocratic airs upon. They mistook his returning stare for admiration, perhaps, or maybe just for half-wittedness. He bit back the temptation to steer them wrong, up into some sheep byre or wherever that deceptively broad-looking crossroad petered out. No trick to pull on the Daughter's own guardsmen on the eve of the Daughter's Day. And besides, the men who joined the holy military orders were not especially noted for their senses of humor, and he might pass them again, being bound for the same town himself Cazaril cleared his throat, which hadn't spoken to a man since yesterday. "No, Captain. The road to Valenda has a roya's milestone." Or it had, once. "A mile or three farther on. You can't mistake it." He pulled a hand out of the warmth of the folds of his coat, and waved onward. His fingers didn't really straighten right, and he found himself waving a claw. The chill air bit his swollen joints, and he tucked his hand hastily back into its burrow of cloth. The captain nodded at his banner-carrier, a thick-shouldered...fellow, who cradled his banner pole in the crook of his elbow and fumbled out his purse. He fished in it, looking no doubt for a coin of sufficiently small denomination. He had a couple brought up to the light, between his fingers, when his horse jinked. A coin -- a gold royal, not a copper vaida -- spurted out of his grip and spun down into the mud. He stared after it, aghast, but then controlled his features. He would not dismount in front of his fellows to grub in the muck and retrieve it. Not like the peasant he expected Cazaril to be: for consolation, he raised his chin and smiled sourly, waiting for Cazaril to dive frantically and amusingly after this unexpected windfall. Instead, Cazaril bowed and intoned, "May the blessings of the Lady of Spring fall upon your head, young sir, in the same spirit as your bounty to a roadside vagabond, and as little begrudged." If the young soldier-brother had... The Curse of Chalion . Copyright © by Lois Bujold. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.