THE CURSE OF CHALION by Lois McMaster Bujold
EOS, August 2001
Cazaril is an ex-soldier, old before his years, now hoping only for some sort of job to keep him alive. Instead, he is tasked to become tutor and secretary for the princess of a fantasy kingdom. The kingdom, and its royal line, labor under a terrible curse and Cazaril's job becomes far harder than would any menial task. Only he, it seems, can break the curse and set the kingdom back on its path.
Cazaril faces formidable foes. The Chancelor schemes for power for himself and his family and the legal ruler is dying and unable to oppose him. Although Cazaril would willingly take on the task, he is a single man, handicapped by old wounds, and scarcely able to mount much of a threat.
Author Lois McMaster Bujold (see other BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by this author) has created a wonderful world with its distinct rules, gods (five, or four depending on where in the world you go), and working magic. Although this fantasy world is quite different from the science fiction universe of Miles Vorkosigan (if you haven't read the Miles Vorkosigan novels, you've missed some of the best science fiction in the past two decades), Bujold brings her deeply personal touch to Cazaril and to the characters he comes in touch with.
Far from simplistic slashing ones way to victory, THE CURSE OF CHALION is both an exciting adventure and a deeply moving personal voyage.
Bujold has several Hugo and Nebula awards for her earlier books. I would be surprised if THE CURSE OF CHALION is not a strong contender as well.
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