The Curse of Chalion
Lois McMaster Bujold
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A man broken in body and spirit, Cazaril returns to the noble household he once served as page and is named secretary-tutor to the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is next in line to rule. It is an assignment Cazaril dreads, for it must ultimately lead him to the place he most fears: the royal court of Cardegoss, where the powerful enemies who once placed him in chains now occupy lofty positions.
But it is more than the traitorous intrigues of villains that threaten Cazaril and the Royesse Iselle here, for a sinister curse hangs like a sword over the entire blighted House of Chalion. And only by employing the darkest, most forbidden of magics can Cazaril hope to protect his royal charge -- an act that will mark him as a tool of the miraculous . . . and trap him in a lethal maze of demonic paradox.
Excellent in every way
Everything you could want from a fiction novel with the bonus of excellent writing--the imagery, vocabulary, syntax... I could go on but I'm afraid my praise would still not give this novel its due justice.
Got it on sale!
I have it in hardback, so I was having a hard time justifying paying for it in ebook as well -- but it was on sale! I got it for a song! HOORAY!
Ahem. This is a story about sacrifice, in the deepest sense of Making Sacred. It's a story about god-given riddles. It's a story without magic, but with demons and gods who cannot act unless invited. It is rich, and layered, and really awesome. (I actually like the sequel, Paladin of Souls, a little better now -- but this is still a great book and Paladin has spoilers for this book in it, so you should read this one first.) Get the sample. Read the sample. Get sucked in. (Unless it's still on sale, in which case you should just buy it so you won't kick yourself later.)