Paladin of Souls (Chalion Series #2)

Paladin of Souls (Chalion Series #2)

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.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380818617
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/26/2005
Series: Chalion Series , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 264,319
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.99(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About 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.

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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Paladin of Souls (Chalion Series #2) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the story, but I'd say that the first quarter of it is somewhat meandering. But once the main plotline unfolds, it moves along compellingly. We begin with the unjustly regarded "mad" dowager royina Ista deciding to take a holy pilgrimage around Chalion in order to pray for a grandson. In truth, she is doing it simply to ward off stircraziness. This pilgrimage wanders about a bit before things heat up and present the real "meat" of the book. Then it is off to the races.
DNWilliams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The second novel in the Chalion series. Not as compelling as the 'Curse of Chalion', but just as thought provoking as 'Curse'. Bujold ties up a few loose ends and provides a reconciliation to Royina Ista's story. The ability to see spirits is rare and the gods of Chalion are particular about the people they choose to 'bless', if you will, with the ability. Ista is determined to distance herself from the capital and the ghosts, both literal and figurative, that plague her life there. Her hopes to leave the gods behind and live her own life are foiled and, of course, she must save the Empire even if she doesn't want to.
jjmcgaffey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've seen things saying this is a standalone. Kind of...I could see someone enjoying this who came to it cold. But the setup and some of the motivations are pretty firmly rooted in Curse of Chalion - I found it a very good follow-on. Different main character (very different), but firmly linked to Curse. I enjoyed it.
MusicMom41 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this second book even more than the first one in the series¿perhaps because the main protagonists were more mature so I related to them better. I'll be reading the third one soon and I'm beginning to suspect that there will have to be two more in the series because each of the three we have now emphasizes a different ¿god¿ from their Quintarian religion. I'm hoping the series lives up to its excellent beginnings.
ladycato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This indirect sequel to The Curse of Chalion follows a minor character, Royina Ista, and makes her something more. After a lifetime of cruel treatment by the gods and the loss of her husband and child, Ista is bitter and sick of her confinement. The courtiers around her still assume her to be fragile and insane. Therefore, when she insists on a pilgrimage, she's treated with skepticism---but all she wants is escape. However, there are a few things she can't escape: the will of the gods, and the driving need to live again for the first time since childhood.I loved this book. It had all of the charm and action of The Curse of Chalion, but with the delightful Ista in charge. I didn't want to stop reading, Every chapter contained some new development or twist, and yet again, I was sorry when I came to the end. The theology of Chalion continues to intrigue me, and the interplay of gods and humans flowed with ease. I love how Bujold works romance into her books. It never dominates the plot, but it's there and very real.
flemmily on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although many people like Curse of Chalion better, I preferred Paladin of Souls. I've read a lot of fantasy books with a polytheist religion, but most seem to still have a foundation which rests on Christian good and evil. Bujold actually seems to get beyond this idea. The characters in this one are also more vivid, and the romance is better.
johnnyapollo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fantastic novel and one of my favorite reads of 2009 (yes, I missed the intitial printing and waited until the third book to read them together). Well thought-out fantasy-scape, great characters and and interesting plot makes this a fantastic read - apparently the Hugo Award membership agrees, as this one won.
SaintBrevity on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A sequel to The Curse of Chalion, this book focuses on the dowager Ista, no longer mad and left at loose ends after the death of her mother. In many ways it's a coming of age story, despite the protagonist being over forty, and reads like one as well, with quite a bit more thought and care put into than one may expect.Starting roughly at the halfway point of the book I became anxious for the resolution of the plot and puzzles, but felt that it took considerably more time to get through the second half than the first. I am unsure how to address this--is it a pacing issue? a plotting issue? a problem with the reviewer being a member of the internet and thus must have it now generation?The world may never know. The book is pretty good, though. It benefits slightly from reading the prequel, but is not tightly bound to it, and would stand well on its own.
humouress on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in the 'Chalion' trilogy, taking place three years after 'The Curse of Chalion' and continuing the story of Ista, Iselle's mother. Ista decides to escape from her home on the pretext of conducting a pilgrimage to various shrines of the five gods, and is detained at a border castle, where - despite her antipathy towards those gods - she has to puzzle her way through the theological maze that she finds there.I really liked this story; I'd give it 6 stars, if I could.There is mystery and intrigue as well as action, tragedy, courage and chivalry, and it is very well written, with a subtle dose of humour - which I love. This story clarifies the theology of the world of Chalion and explains a bit more about the curse of Chalion (of the first book) and Ista's involvement in it. The characters are well drawn; Ista is a feisty heroine, even if she is no longer in the prime of her life, and I liked the interplay between brothers which highlights rather than hides their strong attachments. I also appreciated those touches where characters took thought for others' souls and future peace of mind. And - it is nice to know that, despite Ista's advanced age of 40, she is still entitled to romance!I could go on ... but just read the book.
SimonW11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second book Lois McMaster Bujold has set in this world. The protagonist in this one having a minor role in the last. I found that I had forgotten the events of the first but The author was skill full in providing just enough background without retelling 5the tale.Our Heroine recently recovered from twenty years of guilt induced madness after a disasterous and deadly, god-inspired attempt to lift a curse. pretends a pious wish for pilgrimage to escape her anxious guardians. In truth She has had enough of gods.They however have not had enough of her. They start encountering the demon possessed. What exactly do they want her to do about it and will she.I like the limited, somewhat Loa like, nature of the gods in this High Feudal fantasy world.Its easily differentiated, likabe characters. and slow building but original plotting. but it lacks the emotional involvement she is capasble of in her best work.
Vilakins on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this even more than 'Curse of Chalion'. It takes a fairly minor character and damaged character from that book, one that I didn't even like much, and makes her the centre of this one. I especially like that Ista is middle-aged and one might think that her life is over, but she leaves her stifling home and sets off and has adventures. Her personal god in Chalion's intriguing theology is the Bastard, and she travels with one of his priests, a character I grew to love almost as much as Ista.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This dual Hugo/Nebula Award winning fantasy novel is a sequel to Curse of Chalion. In my effort to read all dual award winners, I felt it best to read Curse of Chalion prior to Paladin of Souls. I was so underwhelmed by the first novel in the series, that I delayed tackling the sequel for several months. Simply put, medieval fantasy, with a Spanish twist is not my cup of tea.That having been said, I found this to be an improvement over Curse of Chalion. The story revolves around a peripheral character in Curse of Chalion, the Dowager Royina Ista. There is abundant mysticism and theology in addition to demons, sorcery and direct involvement of Gods (there are five gods in Chalion). These things all detract from my enjoyment of what actually became quite a good story. From a slow start, the book built into a fine read in which various plot lines were pulled together quite well.I cut my teeth on Lord of the Rings as a junior high school student. As a result, at a young age, I read tons of fantasy, only to be disappointed by the numerous cheap ripoffs of LOTR. I dropped fantasy altogether for almost 20 years before reading George R. R. Martin¿s Song of Ice and Fire, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Subsequent forays into the fantasy realm have been largely disappointing, however. I cannot abide stories involving dwarves, elves, ogres, goblins, sorcerers or ¿otherworldly¿ beings or happenings. While this novel contains healthy doses of some of these, the underlying story makes it palatable. In summary, if you relish medieval fantasy, read J.R.R Martin¿s Song of Fire and Ice series (up through book three). Bujold¿s series simply doesn¿t measure up, though adherents of this style of fantasy will certainly find it to their liking.
Neale on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is as good or even better than curse of chalion. The story follows a character from the first book and the story it weaves is full of humour, suspense and adventure. The characters develop throughout the book and it is joy to read.
mircealungu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book creates a pretty credible universe with five gods, demons, sorcerers and armies. I liked the idea that the gods could not actually affect the material world, but instead they would need to convince humans to do their will. by sending disturibing dreams for example.
surreality on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Plot: A more small-scale plot than in Curse of Chalion that is less about threats to a realm - though those are there too - and more about individuals' problems and developments. Well-paced, with a good ending and a surprisingly quick beginning. Characters: You just have to appreciate an author who dares to make the heroine a 40-year-old reluctant widow with plenty of imperfections. Side characters are well-drawn, with lots of character development overall. Motives are usually clear, and occasionally work in interesting ways. Style: Very readable prose, with pinches of humour. Occasionally dialogue gets a little stilted, but it's still within acceptable levels. Good theological ideas that work out quite well; the politics and geography are a bit trickier and could have used a little more space. Not a problem if you've read Curse of Chalion, though.Plus: It's a book about big and small problems, with the small problems sometimes being the more important ones. Great central character. Minus: Dialogue is formal enough to throw you a little a few times, without apparent reason. Not quite a standalone, too much repetition for a series. Summary: A very satisfying read, with some aspects that are rare to find in fantasy.
amf0001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a definite keeper and a frequent reread. I oscillate between loving this or the first book of the series more (the Curse of Challion) The Curse had a wonderful male hero, but Paladin has a complex, older, female heroine, struggling with self definition as much as anything else, within this fantastic realm. it's a wonderful book, and each time I read it, different parts appeal. Well worth exploring.
bluerose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first book in the series [Curse of Chalion] grows more and more on me each time I read it. Paladin had me hooked from the beginning and continues to delight, its now becoming one of favourite comfort reads.Ista is an unwilling agent of the gods, they have already cost her the life she once had, her husband and son, and nearly destroyed the kingdom. She wants only to be left alone and learn to be herself again. Towards this end she goes on pilgramige, ostensibly to pray for a male heir to the kingdom, but really, as a 40+ widow left alone in the world, its really about finding herself.Except, she finds a lot more than she bargains for, by running across a group of enemy soldiers in the wrong place at the wrong time, finds a dead man alive, and an alive man dead, and a demon embedded in a wife who is causing the problem.And the fifth god (known as The Bastard) comes knocking, asking for her help in the mortal plane...
RaceBannon42 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold is the second book in her Chalion series. It won the Hugo award for best novel in 2004. While I enjoyed the book, I think there were probably some better choices out there. The story takes up where the Curse of Chalion left off. If you havent read the first book and don't want to be spoiled skip to the end of the review. The curse of the golden general has been lifted, and Caz and Iselle have settled in to their new roles as Queen and Chancelor. For Dowager Royina Ista though, things have changed. With the curse lifted so has her madness, or so she hopes. In order to gain some freedom she sets off on a pilgrimage with some old friends and some new. Along her journey she discovers that there are demons loose in the land. Not only that but there are new tensions along the border of Jokarna. More troubling yet, are her dreams. Is her madness truly gone? The book clocks in at just under 500 pages. It probably could have been been shrunk to two thirds that side without much trouble. I felt there was too much exposition, and that too much of it was repeated. I read the first book. I know the story of Lord dy Lutez. I can deal with hearing it retold once, but two or three times, is too much. There wasnt anything groundbreaking in this book, but it was still a good story worth the read. 7 out of 10
clong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another deeply satisfying read from Bujold, featuring another completely atypical fantasy protagonist, in this case a forty year old widow who for years has been thought crazy by everyone around her. Ista undertakes a journey thinking only of escape, but gradually sees and finally accepts a calling to serve. Like the first book of the series, this is very much character driven fantasy, which is not to say that it doesn¿t feature plenty of action, moments of tension alternating with moments of humor, and an understated but compelling romantic angle. The gods of the world of Chalion seem a bit less enigmatic than in the first book. And the supporting cast seemed a bit better fleshed out (with many sympathetic and likable characters). I found it marginally less enjoyable that The Curse of Chalion, but still a refreshing and satisfying book. I look forward to picking up The Hallowed Hunt to finish off the series.
grunin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not into sword-and-sorcery, and I generally steer clear of books which begin with maps of newly-minted mythical kingdoms; but it won a Hugo so I gave it a chance.I had a good time. Genre conventions seldom obtruded, and it was only occsionally obvious that it was a sequel (to the The Curse of Chalion, which I have not read). The protagonist's personal transformation is believable and moving, even if the plot points are sometimes predicatble, and even when the secondary characters are straight from Central Casting (as are all but one or two) they're often fun.There is a long passage late in the book where the action stops and a long explanation of some myteries gets dropped in rather blatantly. Still, the way it's done is better than most -- it's not just the villain 'monologuing' as happens at the climax of almost every 'Harry Potter' book (a series I like).
kcollett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ista, freed from fear when the curse was lifted from her daughter Iselle, but smothered by well-meaning care, doesn¿t want to have anything more to do with the gods. The gods have other ideas.
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