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The Bellinghman

#237 Lois McMaster Bujold: Paladin of Souls

Lois McMaster Bujold: Paladin of Souls

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Voyager; New Ed edition (4 May 2004)
ISBN-10: 0007138490
ISBN-13: 978-0007138494
Category(ies): Fantasy

Bujold is better known for her SF than for her fantasy, but this is a followup novel to her Curse of Chalion. In it, the middle aged Dowager Royina Ista has been getting bored. Her daughter is ruling Chalion quite effectively, and there seems nothing to do except the womanly crafts of embroidery and the like. So it's a temptation for her to just walk out the gate and keep on going. So she does.

She doesn't get very far, of course, but she does encounter a pilgrims' caravan (rather reminiscent of the Canterbury Tales one), which gives her an idea for getting out. She'll go on a pilgrimage herself. But partway through this journey, she encounters raiders, gets kidnapped, and ... well, things do get complicated. Eventually, she becomes the key to saving the kingdom.

If I have a criticism, it's that the character of Ista is very much that of a modern woman. This is often a fault of fantasy, where a fabulous setting is prepared, and then very recognisably contemporary people are dropped in in fancy dress. When Bujold does the same thing in SF, it doesn't stand out so badly, because we expect to be able to understand our descendants.

Not great, but perfectly enjoyable.
Tags: books, reviews

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