The Golden General's curse has at last been lifted from the royal family of Chalion, and Cazaril can now rest easy and enjoy his new life with his bride Betriz.
However, despite being freed from years of ghostly torment, life for Ista, the Dowager Royina has not improved much. With the death of her mother, the Provincara, and with her surviving child, Iselle, now ruling Chalion from the capital Cardegoss, she is left without purpose. Her brother's family still think she is mad and aim to keep her locked up to avoid social embarrassment, but Ista craves freedom and begins to plan how this may become reality.
A pilgrimage dedicated to her mother's soul seems the perfect pretence for Ista to escape the confines of her station, but as the quiet journey unfolds, Ista senses that the gods still linger about her and it is not long before her worst fears are confirmed: her torment is not over, only postponed... and the gods have not finished with her yet.
Simply stunning! Set in the same universe, and just after, The Curse of Chalion, this books focusses on the Dowager Royina Ista, and her god-touched plight. Thought mad, and still considered so by some, she finds that her second-sight has made an unwelcome return and causes no end of complications, paramount amongst them the urge to escape her confinement in Valenda Castle. Thus begins a journey that will contain danger and adventure, happiness and terror, fights for her life, and the lives of those around her.
A compelling tale, with a stunning level of realism despite the free use of magic and demonology that fills every page with tension and thrills. See as Ista compels demons, be fascinated as she unravels the mystery of dead men walking, gasp in awe as she consumes evil in the service of a god.
Overall, I found this a wonderful book in it's own right, since it didn't really tie into the first book in any major plot-delevoping way. In that regard it can't really be called a sequel, since few of the character from The Curse show up in any significant manner in this story. None the less, it stands strong on it's own merits, and would be a wonderful addition to any fantasy enthusiast's collection... especially if you like The Curse or any other of Bujold's previous works.
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This book won the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition, 2015.
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