“It wasn’t a case of storming heaven. It was a case of letting heaven storm you.”
“The Curse of Chalion” by Lois McMaster Bujold
Reading through The Curse of Chalion, a tale about a soldier who finds a second life as a saint and secretary to a cursed princess, I came to a striking revelation: Lois McMaster Bujold is the fantasy writer I aspire to be. Sometimes, when reading something like Game of Thrones or Wheel of Time, I’m struck by Martin or Jordan’s mastery, but it’s only with Bujold that I am truly filled with an utter desire to write just like this. The way she crafts her characters and makes her world stunning and remarkable without bogging it down in exposition or elaborate description completely astounds me…and makes me realizing that she is basically writing her worlds in the exact same way I want to write mine. I started to suspect this truth when I read Paladin of Souls (out of order, I must note, but that’s part of the brilliancy of her work, it didn’t really matter), but The Curse of Chalion really confirmed it for me. Bujold is brilliant, and it would be an honor to one day be compared to her (perhaps a new mission of mine, indeed).
As mentioned above, I have not read the Curse of Chalion books in order (not realizing that this book and Paladin of Souls were so connected), but that’s another brilliant thing. It didn’t matter. The events in Chalion occur well before the events in Paladin, so my foreknowledge of Ista’s story did shade Cazaril’s story a little, but they are so different that I almost feel that my foreknowledge allowed me to appreciate them even more. And not having read Chalion first did not make it difficult to read Paladin, which, in my mind, is a sign of a great writer, being able to enjoy any book of a series easily without necessarily having read the previous ones. The world is so rich, but it’s all very well told in a way that doesn’t bog you down with information. You’re plummeted right into the world, right in the mess of gods and politics, and you feel comfortable without even batting an eye. It’s fantasy mastery at work, with a great story and charming heroes and truly detestable villains.
Not to mention, I’m pretty sure Bujold snuck in a Kindergarten Cop reference at some point. Even if it wasn’t at all intentional, I refuse to take it any other way.
Highly recommended, and I personally cannot wait to get to my next Lois McMaster Bujold book!
Books read: 021/100.