- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Voyager - GB (11 April 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007133618
- ISBN-13: 978-0007133611
- Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3 x 17.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 118 g
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
552,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #50395 in Military Fantasy
The Curse of Chalion Paperback – 17 Dec 2003
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From the Back Cover
Lord Cazaril has been in turn courier, courtier, castle-warder, and captain; now he is but a crippled ex-galley slave seeking nothing more than a menial job in the kitchens of the Dowager Provincara, the noble patroness of his youth. But Fortunes wheel continues to turn for Cazaril, and he finds himself promoted immediately to the exalted and dangerous position of secretary-tutor to the Iselle, the beautiful, fiery sister of the heir to Chalions throne.
Amidst the decaying splendor and poisonous intrigue of Chalion’s ancient capital, Cardegoss, Cazaril is forced to encounter both old enemies and surprising allies, as he seeks to lift the curse of misfortune that clings to the royal family of Chalion, and to all who come too close to them…
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4 customer reviews
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I love this book and have re read it many times
Cazaril overcomes so much and yet retained his humanity and humility
One of my favourite characters ever
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The tale begins with a grimy old man making his way along the road. Eventually, you realize he is neither an old man nor the average person. The story takes the "special person who does not know he is special" trope and gives it a bit of a twist by making the hero, Caz, a thirty something man who has had lots of experience in the royal court but ends up in a battle which results in his being sold to a slaver. He is treated horribly on the ship and goes through what we later understand through bits and pieces of revelations is a sort of religious experience.
I am trying not to spoil anything; that is why I am being vague.
Anyway, as the story progresses we see the effects Caz has on the lives of the people in the kingdom he comes into contact with, especially two people he ends up assigned to oversee.
As a hero, Caz is likable and heroic but so totally unassuming you just can't help but like him. It will soon be discovered he has a dark and dangerous mission assigned to him by the Gods!!
OK, first of all, the writing is good in this book. No clunky sentences or terrible dialogue. The main characters are types in the sense we find them repeatedly in this kind of fantasy. Examples: the inexperience royal who is mislead by his fawning followers who have terrible motives; the young woman who is smarter and stronger than she should be given the social roles of her gender; the old woman who is wise but judged crazy; the aging ruler who was once good but now is old and a bit crazy and weak. You get the picture. But the main characters are psychologically distinct and we see them develop and change.
Unlike The Game of Thrones where every character is psychologically developed and there are over a dozen main story lines all going at once, in this book we have the traditional focus on a limited few characters and there are none of the lengthy sections where chapter after chapter shifts to a totally new time and country. There are a few jumps where you start a new chapter to find that the trip they started out on at the end of the previous chapter is over and suddenly they are riding into a courtyard after a two day ride, and I remember at least one place where there was the old "winter gave way to dripping eaves and warm winds" time shift.
However, generally things move along without major jumps. The plot all focuses around the major group of characters and so while there are two separate orders of soldiers and a few religious orders, there is no real detail about them or the people in them or the political intrigues going on behind the scene. There is enough background here that if the author had wanted this could have been a ten volume series. The bad guys plot, of course, but mainly we see the results of this rather than read about the plotting or the psychology of the plotters, which is actually good here because the plotters are meant to cause problems not provide us with in-depth characters.
If the author had wanted, I easily saw a place about 3/4 of the way through where she could have ended "Book one" and then gone on to "Book Two" and fleshed out the characters and motivations and such a bit more rather than end the book. Things do move a bit quickly in the final fifth of the book and a few things resolve rather quicker than they might! (I wish the last fifty pages had taken more like one hundred pages.) But if anything you will only wish things had slowed down a hair because you realize you are about to end the reading experience!!
There is a little bit of tear jerking sacrifice toward the end that may make you sniffle a bit or bring a drop to your eye. But that is good. :) Lots of devious plots. Not much in the way of sword play, but it is not totally lacking in this, especially toward the end. The magic is more personal religious experience rather than fire ball throwing and mountain tumbling down stuff. No dragons. Sorry. There are some very interesting crows!
If you are looking for one of those series where things go on and on and every character is gone into in depth so that you fear the series will not be done before you shuffle off your mortal coil, this will not fully satisfy.
But if you want a stand alone, one volume, traditional high fantasy novel with interesting characters if not totally unexpected circumstances and themes, this will satisfy you. I very much recommend this book.
Just a quick note: if you like this you might enjoy the old Barbara Hambly series The Darwath Series: The Time of the Dark, The Walls of Air, and The Armies of Daylight. There are lots of one volume fantasies published twenty or thirty years ago that are excellent and have been forgotten.
I will try other of her books, though the one I am reading now by her, "Penric and the shaman," seems a bit light.
It's an amazing fantasy story with dynamic and complex characters and outstanding world-building. Like her Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga Book 2)/Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga Book 3) duology in the Vorkosigan Saga, I could literally finish reading this book and flip back to page 1 to start again. Cazaril is similar to Miles Vorkosigan somewhere around the time of Cryoburn (Vorkosigan Saga Book 15) in that he was young and brash at one point, but now has a deep sense of right, wrong, and honor tempered by a full life of experience.
The book is sometimes funny, sometimes dark, but always thought-provoking. When gods influence the world, what is the true nature of fate and what decisions do we make for ourselves?