Lois McMaster Bujold – The Hallowed Hunt
Length: 424 pages
Started: 24 January 2009
Finished: 28 January 2009
It took me a relatively long time to read this, but the truth was, I read very little of it over the weekend, or for the past two days, simply due to an utter lack of reading time. The bulk of it got read today, because: Snow Day! I’m going to pay threefold later for the work that didn’t get done today, but it was kind of nice to stay in, curl up in the comfy green chair, and read almost an entire book.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since Christmas morning of 2007. A whole year gone by without reading all of my Christmas presents? SHAME!
will change a life, and make him
face the past… and gods.
Summary: Lord Ingrey kin Wolfcliff, a minor noble retainer and swordarm to one of the powerful Earls of Easthome, has been dispatched on an unpleasant mission. The heir apparent, Prince Boleso, has been killed by a young noblewoman he was trying to rape, and Ingrey must bring the body and the accused Lady Ijada from the distant keep balk to Easthome. But there’s more to the case than simple self-defense: Boleso was engaged in secret, ancient, and heretical sorceries, and Ijada is the unwilling recipient of a by-product of the ritual in which she was meant to be used as a sacrifice. When he learns this, Ingrey begins to wonder about the forces that sent him on this mission, for he too bears a burden of the old magic – one that will link him to Ijada, and throw them both onto a path where they must confront the legacy of a terrible history, in a place where not even the gods can help them.
Review: Bujold’s books are dense, in the best sense of the word. Or maybe “rich” would be a better term – they’re packed full of history, intricate theology, complicated political maneuvering, and a sense of power. Because of this, they are not particularly quick reads; requiring a fair bit of attention and careful reading – no skimming, here. In The Hallowed Hunt in particular every time you fit together one piece of the story, Bujold throws another wrinkle at you, unfolds another detail of the plot that you hadn’t seen coming, and forces you to constantly re-evaluate what’s come before. It’s mature, rich, well-developed, and lavishly-written fantasy, reminiscent of Guy Gavriel Kay’s work, that steadfastly refuses to fit into the mold of any fantasy novel that’s come before.
The Hallowed Hunt is set in the same world as The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, albeit in a different country, with different people, and arguably some unspecified number of years earlier. Although the theology makes more sense for having read the earlier books, The Hallowed Hunt would absolutely work as a stand-alone novel. Speaking of the theology, Bujold creates in this series one of the most detailed, internally consistent, and, well, sensical theologies I’ve encountered in fantasy. Each of the books focuses around one of the five gods (Chalion was the Daughter’s, Paladin the Bastard’s, and Hallowed Hunt is the Son’s), making me suspect that the Mother’s and the Father’s books may be forthcoming. While The Hallowed Hunt wasn’t perfect – some of the emotional power was compromised by the convoluted plot, and many of the secondary characters didn’t get the development they deserved – I’m still hoping for more books in this series, and I’m still going to check out Bujold’s other works. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: If you’re in the mood for rich, mature, original fantasy novels (or have run out of Guy Gavriel Kay books to read), Bujold is a good place to turn. I didn’t like The Hallowed Hunt quite as much as I did the other two Chalion books, but they’re all well-written and quite satisfying.
Other Reviews: I can’t find any. Do you have one? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: The prince was dead.
- p. 172: ““What did they pay you, to thwart the god’s blessing? Who dared this execration?” Ingrey snarled into the groom’s contorted face.” – an act of cursing, daming, or denouncing.
- p. 211: “Ingrey contemplated this remark for a moment, finding it plangent but maddeningly vague.” – resounding loudly, esp. with a plaintive sound, as a bell.
- p. 332: “But suddenly a most peculiar memory surfaced, of chewing with wolf-puppy teeth upon a piece of boiled leather armor, a cuirass almost bigger than he was.” – Also called corselet, defensive armor for the torso comprising a breastplate and backplate, originally made of leather.
- p. 368: “[She] shivered in the cold and damp as Ingrey boosted her aboard her horse, a sturdy little black with a hogged mane and white socks.” – To cut (a horse’s mane) short and bristly.
Also, she used the phrase “begs the question” correctly. That’s a huge pet peeve of mine, and when I saw the words, I was all ready to jump all over her for getting it wrong, until I actually read it again and realized it was right. :)