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One of the most honored authors in the field of fantasy and science fiction, Lois McMaster Bujold transports us once more to a dark and troubled land and embroils us in a desperate struggle to preserve the endangered souls of a realm.

Three years have passed since the widowed Dowager Royina Ista found release from the curse of madness that kept her imprisoned in her family's castle of Valenda. Her newfound freedom is costly, bittersweet with memories, regrets, and guilty secrets—for she knows the truth of what brought her land to the brink of destruction. And now the road—escape—beckons … A simple pilgrimage, perhaps. Quite fitting for the Dowager Royina of all Chalion.

Yet something else is free, too—something beyond deadly. To the north lies the vital border fortress of Porifors. Memories linger there as well, of wars and invasions and the mighty Golden General of Jokona. And someone, something, watches from across that border—humans, demons, gods.

Ista thinks her little party of pilgrims wanders at will. But whose? When Ista's retinue is unexpectedly set upon not long into its travels, a mysterious ally appears—a warrior nobleman who fights like a berserker. The temporary safety of her enigmatic champion's castle cannot ease Ista's mounting dread, however, when she finds his dark secrets are entangled with hers in a net of the gods' own weaving.

In her dreams the threads are already drawing her to unforeseen chances, fateful meetings, fearsome choices. What the inscrutable gods commanded of her in the past brought her land to the brink of devastation. Now, once again, they have chosen Ista as their instrument. And again, for good or for ill, she must comply.

Topics: Ghosts, Magical Curses, Gods & Goddesses, Possessed, Female Protagonist, Servants, Nobility, Miracles, Journeys, Spirituality , Queen, Love, Death, Military, Demons, War, Medieval Period, Adventurous, Lush, Female Author, Trilogy, and Dark

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061748905
List price: $6.99
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I think I liked this even more than [book: The Curse of Chalion]. It happens in the same world, but it's a completely different kind of story.more
I was terribly grateful that the sequel to The Curse of Chalion didn't feature the now all-wise martyr main character from the last book. That would have been terribly dull. As it is, the formerly-crazy, still-bitter main character is much more interesting. Bujold does strong women well. The plot here is increasingly fascinating, and the portrayal of the gods much more intimate - and funnier - than the previous book. How do you draw a woman legitimately screwed over by the gods back into the fold? Send the dirty-joke-cracking bastard brother god to annoy her until she gives in!more
I loved this even more than the first book in this world, The Curse of Chalion--and I loved Chalion a lot, which was my first book by Lois McMaster Bujold. Bujold was well known before these high fantasy works for a science fiction series, the Vorkosigan Saga. And after her fantasy I turned to those and loved them, but Chalion was first, and she wrote there as if high fantasy was her first language. She had a gift for creating a world that didn't feel off the shelf. Her deities feel like they have a point, and aren't a retread of the Greek Pantheon. It feels a mix of paganism and Christianity in fact. But her greatest gift is for creating characters you care about. And I care a great deal for Ista, a minor character in Chalion who comes into her own in this novel. I love that she's no young sweet thing but a mature woman with miles on her and plenty of damage. She's a complex strong heroine and this book even passes the Bechdel Test (Two or more woman appear in at least one scene where they talk about something other than men.) In other words, there are interesting secondary women characters too. A fantasy book I consider more than comfort food; it's chicken soup for the soul.more
I've seen things saying this is a standalone. Kind of...I could see someone enjoying this who came to it cold. But the setup and some of the motivations are pretty firmly rooted in Curse of Chalion - I found it a very good follow-on. Different main character (very different), but firmly linked to Curse. I enjoyed it.more
Read all 39 reviews

Reviews

I think I liked this even more than [book: The Curse of Chalion]. It happens in the same world, but it's a completely different kind of story.more
I was terribly grateful that the sequel to The Curse of Chalion didn't feature the now all-wise martyr main character from the last book. That would have been terribly dull. As it is, the formerly-crazy, still-bitter main character is much more interesting. Bujold does strong women well. The plot here is increasingly fascinating, and the portrayal of the gods much more intimate - and funnier - than the previous book. How do you draw a woman legitimately screwed over by the gods back into the fold? Send the dirty-joke-cracking bastard brother god to annoy her until she gives in!more
I loved this even more than the first book in this world, The Curse of Chalion--and I loved Chalion a lot, which was my first book by Lois McMaster Bujold. Bujold was well known before these high fantasy works for a science fiction series, the Vorkosigan Saga. And after her fantasy I turned to those and loved them, but Chalion was first, and she wrote there as if high fantasy was her first language. She had a gift for creating a world that didn't feel off the shelf. Her deities feel like they have a point, and aren't a retread of the Greek Pantheon. It feels a mix of paganism and Christianity in fact. But her greatest gift is for creating characters you care about. And I care a great deal for Ista, a minor character in Chalion who comes into her own in this novel. I love that she's no young sweet thing but a mature woman with miles on her and plenty of damage. She's a complex strong heroine and this book even passes the Bechdel Test (Two or more woman appear in at least one scene where they talk about something other than men.) In other words, there are interesting secondary women characters too. A fantasy book I consider more than comfort food; it's chicken soup for the soul.more
I've seen things saying this is a standalone. Kind of...I could see someone enjoying this who came to it cold. But the setup and some of the motivations are pretty firmly rooted in Curse of Chalion - I found it a very good follow-on. Different main character (very different), but firmly linked to Curse. I enjoyed it.more
I enjoyed this second book even more than the first one in the series—perhaps because the main protagonists were more mature so I related to them better. I'll be reading the third one soon and I'm beginning to suspect that there will have to be two more in the series because each of the three we have now emphasizes a different “god” from their Quintarian religion. I'm hoping the series lives up to its excellent beginnings.more
This indirect sequel to The Curse of Chalion follows a minor character, Royina Ista, and makes her something more. After a lifetime of cruel treatment by the gods and the loss of her husband and child, Ista is bitter and sick of her confinement. The courtiers around her still assume her to be fragile and insane. Therefore, when she insists on a pilgrimage, she's treated with skepticism---but all she wants is escape. However, there are a few things she can't escape: the will of the gods, and the driving need to live again for the first time since childhood.I loved this book. It had all of the charm and action of The Curse of Chalion, but with the delightful Ista in charge. I didn't want to stop reading, Every chapter contained some new development or twist, and yet again, I was sorry when I came to the end. The theology of Chalion continues to intrigue me, and the interplay of gods and humans flowed with ease. I love how Bujold works romance into her books. It never dominates the plot, but it's there and very real.more
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