Paladin of Souls (Chalion Series #2)

Paladin of Souls (Chalion Series #2)

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by Lois McMaster Bujold
     
 

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Follow Lois McMaster Bujold, one of the most honored authors in the field of fantasy and science fiction, to a land threatened by treacherous war and beset by demons -- as a royal dowager, released from the curse of madness and manipulated by an untrustworthy god, is plunged into a desperate struggle to preserve the endangered souls of a realm.

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Overview

Follow Lois McMaster Bujold, one of the most honored authors in the field of fantasy and science fiction, to a land threatened by treacherous war and beset by demons -- as a royal dowager, released from the curse of madness and manipulated by an untrustworthy god, is plunged into a desperate struggle to preserve the endangered souls of a realm.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this sequel to The Curse of Chalion (2001), rich in sumptuous detail and speculative theology, dowager royina Ista Dy Baocia undertakes a pilgrimage to ease her soul-and finds instead that in Chalion, Bujold's handsomely crafted fantasy world ruled by Five Gods "just around some strange corner of perception," a more dangerous fate awaits than she could ever have imagined. Swordplay and sorcery sweep sensitive, sensible 40-year-old Ista into Chalion's border stronghold of Porifors, where enemy Roknari incursions and demons from the Fifth God's hell threaten Ista's realm, held precariously at bay by the charismatic Arhys dy Lutez. Ista's romantic quest to save Arhys and his magnetic half-brother, Illvin, teems with equal parts of unearthly magic and down-to-earth quasi-medieval lore. Despite an occasional lapse into adolescent angst and spurts of superficial dialogue, high fantasy fans should thrill at Ista's spiritual perils, while horse admirers of all ages should savor even Ista's saddle sores. This engaging installment of Chalion's mythical history whets the appetite for new marvels yet to come. Author tour. (Sept. 23) FYI: Bujold has won both Hugo and Nebula awards. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Three years have passed since the widowed Dowager Royina Ista found her release from the sorcery that enslaved the royal family of Chalion and caused her to sink into madness. Now cursed with another kind of imprisonment, Ista attempts to leave the numbing oppression of court life and find adventure and happiness for herself outside the castle walls. Inventing a holy pilgrimage, Ista surrounds herself with new and old friends as she travels from one minor holy site to another. Unfortunately, Ista seems to be again cursed with the gods' gifts. As a former saint, she still retains some of her second sight and begins to realize that her ramblings through the countryside might not be directed by her own decisions. In the tradition of The Curse of Chalion (Eos, 2001/VOYA December 2001), McMaster revisits the world of sorcery, royalty, and passions as Ista must find within herself the steel to relive her past while still keeping herself open to a future. An unlikely hero, as an aging dowager royal and middle-aged woman, Ista is the tool that the gods again desire to help them repair and set right the world. Skillfully layered, the story offers suspense, romance, humor, and a touch of intellectual play. Although intended as a sequel, it could be read alone without too many unanswered questions. Superbly and smartly written, this novel will entice even those readers not traditionally drawn to fantasy. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2003, Eos/HarperCollins, 456p., Ages 15 to Adult.
—Heather Hepler
Library Journal
Bujold here returns to the rich and theologically complex fantasy world of Chalion. In the first volume, The Curse of Chalion, Cazaril, tutor to Iselle, the royesse of Chalion, and her lady-in-waiting, Bertriz, navigate court intrigue and work to break a curse that had been placed on Iselle's family. In Paladin, the focus shifts to the dowager royina Ista Dy Baocia, Iselle's mother-a minor but important character in Curse-as she undertakes a pilgrimage to ease her soul. During her pilgrimage, Ista finds that not all is right in the world of Chalion, with a large number of demons roaming freely. A well-paced and exciting book, Paladin is a perfect blend of might, magic, and character development. Veteran narrator Kate Reading gives an excellent performance. Recommended for all audio collections.-Tim Daniels, Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380818617
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/26/2005
Series:
Chalion Series, #2
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
278,643
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.99(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Paladin of Souls
A Novel

Chapter One

Ista leaned forward between the crenellations atop the gate tower, the stone gritty beneath her pale hands, and watched in numb exhaustion as the final mourning party cleared the castle gate below. Their horses' hooves scraped on the old cobblestones, and their goodbyes echoed in the portal's vaulting. Her earnest brother, the provincar of Baocia, and his family and retinue were last of the many to leave, two full weeks after the divines had completed the funeral rites and ceremonies of the interment.

Dy Baocia was still talking soberly to the castle warder, Ser dy Ferrej, who walked at his stirrup, grave face upturned, listening to the stream, no doubt, of final instructions. Faithful dy Ferrej, who had served the late Dowager Provincara for all the last two decades of her long residence here in Valenda. The keys of the castle and keep glinted from the belt at his stout waist. Her mother's keys, which Ista had collected and held, then turned over to her older brother along with all the other papers and inventories and instructions that a great lady's death entailed. And that he had handed back for permanent safekeeping not to his sister, but to good, old, honest dy Ferrej. Keys to lock out all danger ... and, if necessary, Ista in.

It's only habit, you know. I'm not mad anymore, really.

It wasn't as though she wanted her mother's keys, nor her mother's life that went with them. She scarcely knew what she wanted. She knew what she feared -- to be locked up in some dark, narrow place by people who loved her. An enemy might drop his guard, weary of his task, turn his back; love would never falter. Her fingers rubbed restlessly on the stone.

Dy Baocia's cavalcade filed off down the hill through the town and was soon lost from her view among the crowded red-tiled roofs. Dy Ferrej, turning back, walked wearily in through the gate and out of sight.

The chill spring wind lifted a strand of Ista's dun hair and blew it across her face, catching on her lip; she grimaced and tucked it back into the careful braiding wreathing her head. Its tightness pinched her scalp.

The weather had warmed these last two weeks, too late to ease an old woman bound to her bed by injury and illness. If her mother had not been so old, the broken bones would have healed more swiftly, and the inflammation of the lungs might not have anchored itself so deeply in her chest. If she had not been so fragile, perhaps the fall from the horse would not have broken her bones in the first place. If she had not been so fiercely willful, perhaps she would not have been on that horse at all at her age ... Ista looked down to find her fingers bleeding, and hid them hastily in her skirt.

In the funeral ceremonies, the gods had signed that the old lady's soul had been taken up by the Mother of Summer, as was expected and proper. Even the gods would not dare violate her views on protocol. Ista imagined the old Provincara ordering heaven, and smiled a little grimly.

And so I am alone at last.

Ista considered the empty spaces of that solitude, its fearful cost. Husband, father, son, and mother had all filed down to the grave ahead of her in their turn. Her daughter was claimed by the royacy of Chalion in as tight an embrace as any grave, and as little likely to return from her high place, five gods willing, as the others from their low ones. Surely I am done. The duties that had defined her, all accomplished. Once, she had been her parents' daughter. Then great, unlucky Ias's wife. Her children's mother. At the last, her mother's keeper. Well, I am none of these things now.

Who am I, when I am not surrounded by the walls of my life? When they have all fallen into dust and rubble?

Well, she was still Lord dy Lutez's murderer. The last of that little, secret company left alive, now. That she had made of herself, and that she remained.

She leaned between the crenellations again, the stone abrading the lavender sleeves of her court mourning dress, catching at its silk threads. Her eye followed the road in the morning light, starting from the stones below and flowing downhill, through the town, past the river ... and where? All roads were one road, they said. A great net across the land, parting and rejoining. All roads ran two ways. They said. I want a road that does not come back.

A frightened gasp behind her jerked her head around. One of her lady attendants stood on the battlement with her hand to her lips, eyes wide, breathing heavily from her climb. She smiled with false cheer. "My lady. I've been seeking you everywhere. Do ... do come away from that edge, now ..."

Ista's lips curled in irony. "Content you. I do not yearn to meet the gods face-to-face this day." Or on any other. Never again. "The gods and I are not on speaking terms."

She suffered the woman to take her arm and stroll with her as if casually along the battlement toward the inner stairs, careful, Ista noted, to take the outside place, between Ista and the drop. Content you, woman. I do not desire the stones.

I desire the road.

The realization startled, almost shocked her. It was a new thought. A new thought, me? All her old thoughts seemed as thin and ragged as a piece of knitting made and ripped out and made and ripped out again until all the threads were frayed ...

Paladin of Souls
A Novel
. Copyright © by Lois Bujold. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

One of the most respected writers in the field of speculative fiction, Lois McMaster Bujold burst onto the scene in 1986 with Shards of Honor, the first of her tremendously popular Vorkosigan Saga novels. She has received numerous accolades and prizes, including two Nebula Awards for best novel (Falling Free and Paladin of Souls), four Hugo Awards for Best Novel (Paladin of Souls, The Vor Game, Barrayar, and Mirror Dance), as well as the Hugo and Nebula Awards for her novella The Mountains of Mourning. Her work has been translated into twenty-one languages. The mother of two, Bujold lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Paladin of Souls (Chalion Series #2) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
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This is a fantastic book. Writing, plot, characters, pace, _everything_ about it is of the highest quality. Lois McMaster Bujold is at the top of her game, and that's an impressive sight indeed. Bujold's heroines are always a treat, and this one is my favorite of them all.