Paladin of Souls Review

Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold is technically book two in the Chalion series. However, like the first book, The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls technically could be considered a standalone novel on its own. I admit that I’m quite shocked the author chose the main character, of all available from the first book, to be Ista. As I’ve matured myself, gone are the days of continuously reading and being excited for coming-of-age novels and series. I want to skip that phase and read about a mature character that thinks and act based on all his or her trials and tribulations already experienced. If you’re looking for a light fantasy novel starring a mature middle aged women with spirits and gods sprinkled in, definitely look no further.

“Who am I, when I am not surrounded by the walls of my life? When they have all fallen into dust and rubble?”


I went into The Curse of Chalion expecting heavy court politics mixed in with a good dosage of witty dialogue exchanges between a multitude of personnels. I was only slightly disappointed. Therefore, I expected Paladin of Souls to more or less follow a similar formula. However, it turned out quite differently. Rather than following Cazaril from the first, we now get to go on an adventure with Ista, two characters who share similar experiences and therefore can relate to each other but other than that, are very different. With seemingly nothing much else to live for, we find Ista drowning in sorrow and worst, stuck in place due to her high station. This more than anything can drive one mad and so Ista decides to go on a pilgrimage to escape the castle life. Ista is soon to learn though that while you can run away to a different location, problems eventually find a way back to you, especially when dealing with gods and spirits.

Paladin of Souls deals much less with court politics. This can be obvious since Ista is no longer in court. However, the dialogue between characters is crisp as ever and truly brings them to life. As the title may have suggest, this novel also deals a lot more with gods and demons way more than The Curse of Chalion. Everything from human souls, possessed beings, gods, the different realms between the spirit and matter world are all dealt with in much more attention to details than previously. I did find the final solution to be a bit cheesy and clumsy only because I couldn’t believe how easy it was for the enemies to be fooled with what happened to them in earlier events.

“But why send me in answer to a prayer, when you know perfectly well I can’t do a thing without You?”


We begin the story by getting to know a bit more of Ista’s situation three years since The Curse of Chalion. We then get to plot with Ista on how to get away from the dreary castle. Soon after, a most curious mystery reveals itself, dragging Ista right into the middle of it all. All she wanted was to go somewhere and chill. But alas, the gods are not to be done with her just yet. I’ve only read just two books from this author and I am falling in love with her writing style. It does seem to be geared more towards experienced and mature readers, although I can’t be sure if the same can be said of her earlier works. Either way, Paladin of Souls stands as a novel that complements The Curse of Chalion very well. It’s not a must read as both can be considered standalone novels but if you found book one to be lacking just a bit of “adventure” but loved its world and the writing from the author, you’d do well to give this a shot.

“Attempts fail, but not as certainly as tasks never attempted.”


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