by Lois McMaster Bujold
: In this sequel to The Curse of Chalion (2001), rich in sumptuous detail and speculative theology, dowager royina Ista Dy Baocia undertakes a pilgrimage to ease her soul-and finds instead that in Chalion, Bujold's handsomely crafted fantasy world ruled by Five Gods "just around some strange corner of perception," a more dangerous fate awaits than she could ever have imagined. Swordplay and sorcery sweep sensitive, sensible 40-year-old Ista into Chalion's border stronghold of Porifors, where enemy Roknari incursions and demons from the Fifth God's hell threaten Ista's realm, held precariously at bay by the charismatic Arhys dy Lutez. Ista's romantic quest to save Arhys and his magnetic half-brother, Illvin, teems with equal parts of unearthly magic and down-to-earth quasi-medieval lore. Despite an occasional lapse into adolescent angst and spurts of superficial dialogue, high fantasy fans should thrill at Ista's spiritual perils, while horse admirers of all ages should savor even Ista's saddle sores. This engaging installment of Chalion's mythical history whets the appetite for new marvels yet to come. FYI: Bujold has won both Hugo and Nebula awards.
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