|Curse of Chalion, the (2001) [Novel]|
by Lois McMaster Bujold
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On the eve of the Daughter's Day - the grand celebration that will honor the Lady of Spring, one of the five reigning deities - a man broken in body and spirit makes his way slowly down the road to Valenda. A former courtier and soldier, Cazaril has survived indignity and horrific torture as a slave aboard an enemy galley. Now he seeks nothing more than a menial job in the kitchens of the Dowager Provincara, in the noble household where he served as page in his youth.
But the gods have greater plans for this humbled man. Welcomed warmly, clothed and fed, he is named, to his great surprise, secretary-tutor to the Royesse Iselle - the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is destined to be the next ruler of the land. But the assignment must ultimately carry Cazaril to the one place he fears even more than the sea: to the royal court of Cardegoss, rife with intrigues and lethal treacheries.
In Cardegoss, the powerful enemies who once placed Cazaril in chains and bound him to a Roknari oar now occupy the most lofty positions in the realm, beneath only the Roya himself. Yet something far more sinister than their scheming hangs like a sword over the royal family: a curse of the blood that taints not only those who would rule, but those who stand in their circle. The life and future of both Iselle and her entire blighted House of Chalion lie in dire peril. The only recourse left to her loyal, damaged servant is the employment of the darkest and most forbidden of magics - a choice that will indelibly mark Cazaril as a tool of the miraculous... and trap him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation, and death for as long as he dares walk the fivefold pathway of the gods.
Original title: The Curse of Chalion
Genre: Fiction→ Fantasy→ Secondary Worlds