Demons are running rampant and unbalancing the world, so the God’s decide to send in an unlikely heroine to set things right. This is Ista’s story, she had a brief appearance in The Curse of Chalion and at that time came across quite mad. This book takes place several years after the end of the first book and we come to realize, she was not mad, but instead God touched and suffering after making a couple of disastrous decisions. Ista has decided to go on a pilgrimage to escape her unhappy life and during her journey she becomes instrumental in helping the Gods.
Lois McMaster Bujold has written numerous Science Fiction and Fantasy books and series including The Vorkosigan Saga, The Chalion Universe Series and the The Sharing Knife Series. The Curse of Chalion is the first novel in The Chalion Universe. This is a fantasy book, but not in the traditional sense. There are no dragons, elves, etc but there is limited magic, demons and the personal involvement of the Gods. The book takes place in a society similar to that of Spain in the 15th Century. The story is told in a third person narrative from the point of view of the main protagonist: dowager royina Ista Dy Baocia.
It took a while for the story to get going, but once it did, I couldn’t put the book down. I really came to care for all the characters, even the wife of A’srhys dy Lutez. The introduction and back story of the demon ridden humans was fascinating. The story was well told and after it’s slow start it really started to pick up steam and exploded through to an exciting and satisfying ending. There is a bit of a love story, which I thought added to the plot and created more interest in the characters. The portrayal of the Gods was interesting and unusual.
This is a standalone book with interesting and likeable characters. It is quite different from The Curse of Chalion, with a different focus and different characters, but it still stayed within the confines of the original universe. If you enjoyed the first book, then you will also enjoy this portrayal of the Chalion Universe.