The half-mad Prince Boleso has been slain by a noblewoman he had intended to defile. It falls to Lord Ingrey kin Wilfcliff to transport the prince to his burial place and to bring the accused killer, Lady Ijada, to judgment. His mission is an ugly and delicate one, for the imminent death of the old Hallow King has placed the crown in play, and the road he travels with his burden and his prisoner is fraught with danger. But in the midst of political chaos, magic has the fiercer hold on Ingrey's destiny, and Ijada herself may turn out to be the only one he dares trust.
©2005 Lois McMaster Bujold; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Inventive, with engaging characters and lively storytelling."(Denver Post)
"Bujold's reworking of a classic romantic situation is distinguished by its setting in a well-crafted world and masterly creation of characters whose fates will keep readers turning the pages." (Booklist)
"Absorbing....Bujold's ability to sustain a breathless pace of action while preserving a heady sense of verisimilitude in a world of malignant wonders makes this big novel occasionally brilliant and not a word too long." (Publishers Weekly)
I was very excited at the prospect of a new Bujold novel, but slightly disappointed when I read it. It's not bad exactly - I'm not sure that Bujold is capable of writing a bad novel - it's just rather slow. It also feels like a bit of a rehash of the themes of some of her earlier novels.
So if you're new to Bujold I'd advise you not to start here. Try the first of her fantasy novels (The Curse of Chalion), or one of her scifi Vorkosigan novels (I'd recommend starting with Warrior's Apprentice).
If you've read every other Bujold novel then clearly you'll be desperate to read this, but prepare for mild disappointment. On the upside, her next novel (The Sharing Knife Volume 1 - not available on Audible at the time of writing this review) is a lovely read, so it's not as though she's lost her mojo for good.
Strange pronunciation of words such as 'misled' (myzled), and a mushy accent that makes it difficult to tell the difference between words like 'gods' and 'guards' made it a distracting narration. Disappointing as compared to the narration of the previous Chalion novel, Paladin of Souls.
Not listen to any books narrated by Marguerite Gavin again..
The reviews here and on Amazon prepared led me expect this to be a slower book than the two previous Chalion novels I've listened to - and it is! I doubt I'd have had the patience to read this - I'd have been reading the end about a quarter of the way through to see if I wanted to carry on, but listening forces you to hear everything, and I was engaged enough to actually look forward to the next installment (I listen in about hour long sessions while at the gym). I think this is only one for those who've read/listened to the Curse of Chalion/Paladin of Souls and want to read more of this land.
It's set in a completely different time and country to the other two, and while the five gods are involved, and there's mention of countries you might recognise, it's mostly all different.
It's a good story, just a little overlong. and it could have done with some serious editing at times - there's a lovingly described journey that takes an hour or more that could have be dealt with equally well for the plot with 'after several days of hard travel...', the end picks up a pace and is gripping, and while I love Ms Bujold's habit of not ending her novels with the crash-bang-wallop good conquers evil bit, but allows us a glimpse of life beyond the hard won victories and losses, I felt this ending went on bit (just like the rest of the book I suppose.)
Worth listening to for fine characterisation, an interesting slow burn plot, good mythology and history, a great hero who really grew on me, and if you've the patience it will draw you in and along, to the extent that when it all ends you feel somewhat at a loose end!
"Magic and Kingship in the Land of the Five Gods"
Ingrey Kin Wolfcliff is one of Bujold's wounded heroes. He begins in this story as a man who carries within himself the bound spirit of a great wolf. This makes him unholy but tolerated within the bounds of the religion of the Five Gods.
His earthly uses include being set to tasks that other men shun. Thus he was sent by the Royal Sealbearer to straighten out the mess that the young Prince had made of his death. It appears that the Prince had been engaging in forbidden sorcery. The situation though becomes more complicated when Lord Ingrey realizes that the young female prisoner he was to return to the capital for judicial disposition also bears an animal spirit as a result of the prince's malfeasance. Further when the complicated theology of the Five Gods and the tangled history of their land becomes involved the situation seems to spiral out of even Lord Ingrey's ability to control.
While the narrator at times seems a bit rushed and every so often it is not perfectly clear which character is making which comment, this is mostly very well done technically and a most enjoyable book.
"Another winner from Bujold"
This is another excellent book from the reliable Bujold, and again it is extremely well-read. For the record, this is the third of three books (The first being Curse of Chalion), all set in the same feudal-style fantasy world, but they are almost entirely unrelated in terms of plot and character. This book is set in a different area of the continent than the previous two novels, and could stand alone, thought the earlier books do spend more time developing the unique cosmology and theology of the universe.
That underlying theology - a world with five active, benevolent gods where the worst fate is to die without being taken into any of the five "heavens" - informs much of the plotline, which twists and turns in logical, yet unexpected, ways as the story progresses. It combines elements of high fantasy, political intrigue, and theological musings with dark, almost Wuthering Heights, romantic elements. (But don't let that scare you off if you don't like romantic novels, there is plenty of magic and action as well).
Unlike so many fantasy novels, there is no Dark Lord and no impending cataclysm driving the plot - though there are ancient wrongs that must be discovered and undone, they are at a much more human level, and it is at the level of character interaction that Bujold writes best. Her characters are unique, often quite humorous, and her dialogue is natural and tight. The reader, with only a few exceptions, handles the range of characters with great grace. The result is an impressive, well-written change from the usual multi-book epics of Robert Jordan or George Martin, that should appeal to fantasy fans of all kinds.
"excellent story marred by tedious pausing"
This story was great, although not nearly as gripping as Paladin of Souls and Curse of Chalion. 1) The narrator was female but the main character was male, and although annoying, I could deal with that. 2) The narrator's speech pattern was terrible. She paused in the middle of sentences instead of reading them smoothly, as if she thought our little brains needed time to catch up with what she was saying. It was like she couldn't get out more than 4 or 5 words without drawing breath. Thankfully her breathing wasn't apparent. Listening to her was pure torture sometimes. I won't be jumping to listen to more of her.
"not bad but not her best"
in fact, its probably the least best (can't bring myself to say worst) of her books that I have listened o. The Vorkosigan books are amazing ( go get Wariors apprentice) or her Chalcedon books (Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls) are wonderful. this book...almost great but I got bored and quit 30 minutes from the end, in the middle of what was meant to be the great finale. Feel free to tell me that it was worth another half hour of listening. Don't get me wrong, I did like it, but I'd just had enough - I looked up the ending, summarized in two lines, and went off happy to my next book
"A hard review to write"
It's always hard to figure out what went wrong when talking about the weakest book of a series, and more so with audiobooks as you are reviewing both reader and writer.
However, if I'm going to lay blame for the issues I had with this one, I'm laying it squarely at the feet of the author. The reason being, I couldn't bring myself to care about the characters. The book starts with a weaker female character who has a male protector of limited skill/social-standing. This pairing has already been done, and better, in "The Curse of Chalion." Also, after such a powerful female character as Ista, connecting with Ijada's plight is difficult.
Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion books are always slow to get into gear, but normally there is something interesting along the way. However, Ingrey simply feels like a less interesting Caz.
The story isn't bad, it's just weaker in comparison and has a "Haven't we been here before?" feel.
I feel also the readings would have been better if there had been some consistency. Lloyd James or Kate Reading (narrators of the other two books) would have better choices.
"great book, poor narrrator"
McMaster-Bujold wrote a good novel, interesting characters one can care about and in the realm of the best book; The Curse of Chalion. This narrator's style is so annoying that it is hard to concentrate on the story. She ends each sentence as if it were a proclamation, or as if it were a question. When speaking as a character she was much better using normal acting skills to portray the character. This is the only narrator I have heard in about 100 Audible books that actively detracts from the book experience.
I agree ..I will run out into the dead of night to buy anything Lois writes. I have tried to listen to this a number of times and it is impossible to stick with it. Anything else she writes I can listen to over and over and over again and be delighted. 5 stars. Addicted to her writing. Never be bored and in fact happy to listen to them repeatedly. Chalion and Phalladin of Souls I could say were every bit as good as Miles ?? Certainly as good as. And I am sure Lois is glad to get a break and bring closure to Miles' Saga. But this is not good, but for all the winners she has hit out of the park, I will look the other way.
30 home runs and 1 stinker is not a bad record...
This I cannot get thru. The characters are unlikeable and boring. I do not like the reader.
Out of desperation for anything Lois writes I will try again...
"My First Bujold Disappointment"
Unlike every other Bujold book I have listened to, including Curse of Chalcion and Paladin of Souls, this one was not enjoyable. The main characters are not very likeable, the plot is impossibly complicated, and Bujold takes the longest possible route to describe the simplest things. This book could easily have been half as long, and almost nothing would have been lost.
I'm going back to Miles.
"Good, Not Great."
The Hallowed Hunt lacks something fundamental when compared to the other 2 books in this series. While the plot provided a neat frame for the story, it was plodding and lacked fire. What worked in the other Chalion books was the sense of a driving inner passion that made the outcomes unpredictable. There is plenty of danger in Hallowed Hunt, and yet this book did not keep me on the edge of my seat -- but played out rather pedantically.
Part of the problem for me may have been the reader. I enjoy Marguerite Gavin's work in the Hollows series, but her voice is so very distinctive that I found it a distraction. I think she did an admirable job here, but I didn't enjoy myself. The story moved too slowly to be exciting. Was that the reader's interpretation, or the book, I can't say. All I do know is that I wasn't really invested in the outcome as I should have been.
When I finished Paladin of Souls, I MISSED Ista! I wanted her story to go on! When I finished Curse of Chalion, the same was true of Cazaril. But with this effort, I really wouldn't mind if I never read about any of these characters again. The politics were boring, but how is is possible that a story about shape changers could be boring? I just wonder how I would feel if Lloyd James or Kate Reading had been the narrators of this book as well. I guess I'll never know.
"Like all of Bujold--very very human"
Unlike several readers, I found it very easy to identify with the leading character in this book. Bujold brings into her best characters the confusing ambiguity of intention and conviction which is an inescapable part of what we find when we look deeply into our own inner workings. And she manages to do it without neglecting the human capacity for sacrifice and nobility which can lead us to transcend our weaknesses at times.
The action in LMB's writing is always as much interior as overt, but she gives it a momentum which keeps me, who cannot abide plots which plod, entirely engaged and fascinated. I think it is because all of the strengths in her characters seem to rise out of apparent weaknesses. As a result she can weave them more and more deeply into what seem to be inextricable situations and still have rescue or redemption appear inevitable and truthful when it arrives.
I had no problem with this narrator. As a matter of fact, I actually delighted in the unusual resonance of her voice and her excellent phrasing and subtle, but almost always clear, character delineation.
Was this as good as the two books in this world setting which preceded it? Perhaps not quite, but that is holding Ms. Bujold to a very high standard indeed.
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