I far preferred Lois McMaster Bujold’s second “Chalion” novel to her first, perhaps because the protagonist of Paladin of Souls is a much more flawed individual than the indisputably noble and heroic Cazaril of The Curse of Chalion. Ista, formerly the Mad Queen of Chalion, embarks on a quest to find out who and what she really is, and along the way, uncovers a terrible threat to the rule of her daughter, Yselle, as well as a relationship with an unruly and uncontrollable god. And as if in answer to my wishes for the first book,Paladin of Souls features a wonderful dy Lutez (Arhys, the son of the “infamous” Chancellor often mentioned during the first novel) as well as his half-brother Illvin. I could understand Ista’s nearly instantaneous reaction to Arhys, because I basically had the same one! And although I didn’t start off the novel loving Ista, I did love her a lot by the end; as I myself approach what is commonly thought of as “middle-age”, I do appreciate a fantasy heroine who’s middle aged!!
If I have one quibble about this novel, it’s that Ista seems very much indifferent to the fate of her son in the first novel, which strikes me as a little odd! I guess he was more plot-device than actual person, perhaps. But it’s a minor quibble!
(Read from January 17-24, 2010)