***Paladin of Souls
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Reviewed December 20, 2003.
Eos Books (HarperCollins), New York, 2003. 456 pages.
I decided to try this fantasy author on the recommendation of my writing
buddy, Kristin. I’m afraid I should have started with the book this
was a sequel to, The Curse of Chalion.
I thought Paladin
got off to a very slow start, but I probably wouldn’t have minded
if I had read the earlier book and already knew the characters.
I’m afraid that I don’t like fantasy books for adults nearly as well
as fantasy books for young adults. The books for younger readers remind
me more of fairy tales, and have a more mythic feel. Fantasy for
adults is full of details of the strange new world, and for me they bog
down the reading.
I have to admit that Lois McMaster Bujold is wonderfully inventive.
She creates a world with five gods—the Mother, the Father, the Son, the
Daughter, and the Bastard. The country next to Chalion only worships
the first four of those gods and persecutes people who worship the Bastard.
There are also demons and demon possession. However, there are also
sorcerers, who have a demon inside of them, but master the demon, instead
of the other way around.
I have to admit that philosophically I’m not crazy about books about
planets with multiple gods. Like C. S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle,
I think that if we met people living on another planet, we would find that
the God of the Bible is not a provincial god, limited to our planet.
No, I believe that he is the God who made the universe and would be worshiped
on other planets as well.
However, part of the strength of fantasy is creating a world that is
very different from the reality we know, and thus enabling us to see aspects
of our own reality more clearly.
Once I got through the first five chapters of this book, understood
the setting, the world and the characters, the book was very absorbing
and told an intriguing story.
Ista, the dowager Royina of Chalion, is finally free of the curse of
Chalion. She wants to get away from the castle where she was staying,
so she decides to go on pilgrimage. She is angry with the gods for
the events of her life, so she is not happy when she again begins to get
dreams from the gods.
The dreams involve a man with a bloody wound. Later, after her
company is attacked by raiders from the neighboring country, she finds someone
with the exact same wound. Only it is a different man. Something
strange is going on, and the gods want Ista to do something about it.
This book ends up being a lovely, intriguing story, set in a world very
different from ours, yet with people very like us.
Copyright © 2003 Sondra
Eklund. All rights