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)
"Not her best"
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.
"Slower, but engaging..."
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!
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