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Lord Cazaril has been in turn a courtier, castle-warder, and captain; now he is but a crippled ex-galley slave seeking nothing more than a menial job in the kitchens of the Dowager Provincara, the noble patroness of his youth. But Cazaril finds himself promoted to the exalted and dangerous position of secretary-tutor to Iselle, the beautiful, fiery sister of the heir to Chalion's throne.
Amidst the decaying splendour and poisonous intrigue of Chalion's ancient capital, Cardegoss, Cazaril is forced to confront not only the powerful enemies who once bound him to a Roknari oar but also the malignant curse that clings to the royal household, trapping him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation, and death for as long as he dares walk the five-fold pathway of the gods.
"But, this is a fantasy book..." I always say that when I think of this one. I just can't understand it really... I mean, I don't really like fantasy much, I prefer harder sci-fi, something with funky physics and the "outta this world" factor... but I kinda like this one. :)
I don't know if it's the 'Dark Secrets and Black Magic' theme that does it, or if it's the stunningly real characters, or the twisted plot that shows you that you just have to laugh at some things, no matter what world you live in.
I was really taken with the Job-like quality of Cazaril's fate... how, despite his best efforts, he just can't seem to get out of the way when the "Oh-Hell Fairy" comes to visit. When the Fate's decide to pick a scapegoat, they just seem to roll his number time after time. There are times like that in everyone's life, making his plight seem just that bit more deserving of your sympathy.
Overall, a wonderful book. I was half-way through when my first copy was stolen from my car, so it was with great pleasure I received a second copy for replacement from the kind people at Harper Collins (NZ). Many thanks, it has been wonderful finishing this off. :)
Random listing from 'Books'...
Britain, the year 475.
The world is darkening. In the darkness, there are some who dream.
Artorius dreams of victory over the barbarians who raid in the night. And Alexa, half-Roman, dreams of breeding the horses that will carry him to that victory.
Soon she will take her chances and follow her dream, wherever it takes her.
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