Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Hallowed Hunt, by Lois McMaster Bujold

I've been catching up Lois McMaster Bujold's World of the Five Gods series, and just finished The Hallowed Hunt.  This is book #1 in the series, but it was the third one written and I have explained elsewhere that I prefer to read series in that order.  This installment takes place several hundred years before the time of The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, a few hundred years after the Five Gods pantheon displaced the older Weald animal magic.  That older magic plays a central role in the book.  But this being a romance series the focus is on the protagonist, in this case a very dark and troubled soul named Ingrey.  I forgot to mention that he is brooding.  His charge is to take a Lady who murdered a prince who was trying to rape her for trial. 

Ingrey is a different kind of protagonist for Bujold, in that he is highly capable and meant to be unlikable.  He had a wolf spirit thrust upon him as a young man and only with difficulty kept his sanity.  It's slightly unnatural and kind of makes the book drag, I struggled to read it at times.  But the struggle was worth it for the resolution--the book comes to a satisfying conclusion as Ingrey comes into his own. 

This book was not bad but I can't rate it up there with the others.  I give it 3 stars.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold

I seem to be reading a lot of romance novels lately, in the quest to read award-nominated books.  I am currently catching up Bujold's World of the Five Gods series, and just finished Paladin of Souls.  It is the second book written, the third in the chronology of the world.

This one centers on Ista, mother of the Roya Issa of Chalion-Ibra and perhaps the longest-suffering under the curse.  She is the dowager royina, and also a woman of a certain age, and Bujold delivers a really good romantic adventure/challenge for her.

Ista decides to go on a pilgrimage, mostly to escape her home.  She ends up god-touched yet again, and has to work through it to save a family and the realm.  Of course you can read the plot summary elsewhere.

This is, for the most part, a master writer creating a deep and loving portrayal of a woman.  Of course a fantasy woman--royalty, commanding vast resources and bearing vast burdens.  But for all that that larger theme is predictable, how it is executed is satisfyingly compelling.  Ista's curse was removed in The Curse of Chalion, but that removal left not much in its place.  In Paladin of Souls, she endures danger and doubt but finds all that could possibly be fulfilling--a calling, respect, and of course love.

I'm looking forward to reading The Hallowed Hunt, which goes back to earlier history in Chalion.  Not sure yet about Penric's Demon, library holdings here have some weirdness going on.  We'll see.  4 stars from me.