The Curse of Chalion

Rating: 5 out of 5.
the curse of chalion book cover
  • Lois McMaster Bujold, 2001, published by Turtleback Books
  • World of the Five Gods #1(publication order), #9 (chronological order)
  • Audiobook published by Blackstone Audio, narrated by Lloyd James

Lupe dy Cazaril is tired, and he’s more embarrassed than angered by the physical scars of the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Roknari.

A former nobleman and soldier who was sold to Roknari masters to settle a score, Caz has escaped the Roknari ship where he’s been held for nineteen months as a galley slave. Exhausted, but blessed by good fortune in his travels, he makes his way back to the courts of Chalion, where he once served as a page. After Cazaril secures a position as secretary and tutor to Iselle, the young Royessa (princess) of Chalion, the story unfolds in earnest and the reader is introduced to the expansive, richly mythic world of The Kingdom of the Five Gods.

In the past few days I’ve (re)listened to the first quarter or so of this excellent story. When checking my Audible purchase history to pin down the date I first listened to the entire book (2014) I found a small review I wrote at that time; my opinion has not changed.

Here’s an excerpt from my 2014 review: “Lloyd James does a fantastic job of bringing the main character to life; at first I thought his voice to be somewhat unpleasant, but as I listened to him read dialogue, my opinion changed . . . . ” Seven years later, I’d write exactly the same thing. (Be forewarned: narrator reviews are all over the board on the Audible/Amazon site; some love him, some returned the book because they couldn’t stand to listen.)

I found the narrative and narrator to be a marriage made in heaven. The Curse of Chalion gets a solid 5 stars from me.

Edited after listening again to the sequel, Paladin of Souls: This narrator chose to interpret Ista, mother of Iselle, as if she were hypnotised or drugged. That is definitely NOT Ista and I would drop this review one star to reflect this poor choice, but the story itself is so off-the-scales brilliant that I can’t do that. Luckily, Paladin of Souls has a different narrator.

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