Paladin of Souls

( 34 )


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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Paladin of Souls (Chalion Series #2)

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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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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.
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: 9781470848002
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2012
  • Series: The Curse of Chalion Series
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 13

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, for best novel, two Nebula Awards (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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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 34 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012


    "Ok thank you." *walks out*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012



    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2009

    In a Shadow

    Despite winning the Hugo and Nebula awards I'm not sure that this is better than the Curse of Chalion, which did not win the awards. I would say Paladin of Souls is on par with its prequel, but the similarities in plot resolution and philosophical/theological underpinnings reduces its novelty. If the chronology was reversed I would probably have the opposite opinion. Paladin of Souls is more action packed, which may draw favor from some readers. Either way, both books are of high quality and worth the read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2008

    Read this book!

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2008

    A reviewer

    5 stars! I loved this book & was bummed when it ended! The main character, Ista, is my new hero! A wonderfully intelligent, humble and courageous heroine. She has a wittily cynical yet realistic view of the world and sharp, dry sense of humor. I was happy to 'spend time with' a strong woman who exhibits such outstanding leadership qualities. I'd love to read more books about her. Each character was a joy to me, though and I grew to love them all. The world & religion created for this story were fascinating, even riveting. It never failed to keep me interested, never boring or long-winded fast paced without being frenetic or action-packed for action's sake. I was almost immediately invested in the characters and my attention was captured by the culture & religion. I couldn't wait to hear what happened next. The ending was very, very satisfying for me. This is the 2nd book I've read from this author with a strong female lead (other was Cordelia Naismith in Cordelia's Honor). She writes them so well. There were portions of prose that were beautifully written and many moments of subtle & smart humor I found so enjoyable for which I mentally tipped my hat to Ms. Bujold each time. Excellent writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2006

    Amazing Book

    I loved this book and couldn't put it down. I really liked Ista's adventures and felt every emotion that she felt. I thought all of the fantasy aspects were really awesome and different from any other book i've read. I liked the romance in it and the relationships along the way

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2006

    Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold, a thoroughly engaging tale.

    The spiritual pilgrimage of a middle aged woman who finds herself widowed and with no more children in her house may not, on the face of it, sound like an interesting story. But Lois McMaster Bujold is a remarkable writer and if she wanted, I have no doubt that she could enthrall readers with an account of drying paint. Not that she would have to, for her fantasy world of Chalion is as interesting as it is intricate. Ista, the Dowager Royina of all Chalion, is suffocating within the walls of her home castle and simply must get away to do something ... anything but continue in the confinements of her courtly life. Haunted by dark secrets from her past, and freed by the death of her elderly mother, she launches haphazardly into a pilgrimage, but is she fleeing from her destiny or to it? She collects an odd assortment of traveling companions as if by random as she sets out, however, each of them turns out to be not only a richly human and dynamic character but exactly who and what she needs. The members of their small caravan soon find themselves fleeing from what at first appear to be random raiding parties form across the Jokonan border. They are, in fact, even then being swept up in a swirl of supernatural forces directed by the gods. Visions of a man reclined as if on a sick bed and pleading for her help give Ista a hint as to the direction she is being drawn. She finds the man strangely compelling but the vision a sign of the gods involvement and tries to turn violently away with all her strength. Ista has never imagined it possible to find love in the autumn (perhaps late summer) of her life, or ever for that matter, but finds herself inexorably drawn into the spiritual tangle that enfolds the man in her visions. The theological construct in her world of five gods may be a challenge for some to accept, but once that is done, the story is both believable and compelling. Perhaps too believable and I would forewarn those not well grounded spiritually. I¿m not usually a fan of fantasy, preferring stories closer to the real world, but Lois has captured me as a reader with her use of description and subtlety. If you have no problem sorting out fantasy from reality then by all means escape for a visit to the world of Chalion! You will find it both refreshing and rewarding.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2006

    good book

    Paladin of Souls was a great book. though slow at the beginning it starts up in the middle beginning. great romance, i cried though it was really an enchanting story.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    No sophmore curse

    No longer suffering from the God-induced madness, but sill reeling from guilt and mourning the loss of much of her family, Dowager Royina of Chalion Lady Ista dy Baocia seeks to find atonement. She feels a pilgrimage might provide some solace to her tortured soul so Lady Ista sets forth on a journey. <P>However, her search for inner peace ends when she becomes embroiled in a devious plot that makes her ponder whether the five ruling Gods still manipulate her? Still Lady Ista cannot ignore the threat from Chalion's neighbor Porifors. The Roknari and the evil ones from the Fifth God place Chalion and Ista¿s ruling daughter in jeopardy with only Arhys dy Lutez and his half brother Illvin struggling to contain the assault. Ista joins the dy Lutez siblings though she may pay the ultimate price with her entrance into the fray. <P>The sequel to THE CURSE OF CHALION (one of the all time great fantasy tales), PALADIN OF SOULS, is a fabulous stand-alone story. The story line focuses on a major but not the prime character from the first book as Lady Ista tries to find solace for the trouble she caused though logically she understands she was a puppet of the Gods. As in the first novel, Lois McMaster Bujold imbues the story line with deep depth that makes her realm see genuine though the non-stop action crowd will feel that slows the pace. Still sword and sorcery readers who relish a world that appears real will appreciate the heroine¿s quest and demand returns to this magical land from a writer who lives up to her middle name. <P>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2003

    Another Wonderful Story!

    PALADIN OF SOULS is not really a sequel to Ms. Bujold's masterpiece THE CURSE OF CHALION, instead it should be considered a companion piece, another part of the Chalion anthology. Why not a sequel? After all it does pick up just three years after the end of CURSE, many of the same characters are found in both, even the story line from CURSE is the basis for PALADIN'S. Sounds like a sequel doesn't it? Amazingly enough it really isn't. To begin with the story center has shifted away from Iselle, Bergon and of course Cazaril to the now curse free Dowager Royina Ista, the mother of the ruling queen. If fact the principal characters from CURSE are rarely mentioned in PALADIN, it is the secondary characters who now become the main protagonists. The story revolves around Royina Ista, now free from her gods induced madness, and her attempt to break free from the confining restrictions imposed by her high station. Into her orbit fall the dy Gura brothers Ferda and Foix (one of my favorite characters from the CURSE) and a courier girl turned lady in waiting, Liss. In fact the twist of focus away from the original characters in CURSE is so dramatic and totally fresh that it becomes a completely new story, admittedly set within the familial universe of Chalion. A wonderful story that is a pleasure to read? Yes, absolutely! Without flaw? No. One of its major problems is the pacing, it is very slow to start, almost ponderous. But after the first hundred pages it starts to click and begins to flow quite nicely. Its second major flaw is the constant delving into the composition and intricacies of Chalion's religion, overly much I think. In CURSE it was touched on just enough to ensure the free and unhindered flow of the story line, in PALADIN it is debated and pontificated enough to where it becomes a trifle bit dull. All in all PALADIN OF SOULS is a wonderful story with interesting characters and an intriguing plot. While not quite as overwhelming as CURSE OF CHALION it is an exceptionally good piece of work that should be a 'must read' for fans of fantasy. You don't have to read CURSE first to appreciate this work but it would help, besides if you haven't read CURSE you have missed one of the best fantasy books published in the last ten years. This one I would rate as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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