Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

The wearied mother to the heiress of Chalion attempts to flee her past insanity, only to find herself possessed by a god called The Bastard and sent on a perplexing mission of grave theological danger.

Paladin of Souls is the sequel to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Curse of Chalion, which I read a few years ago and greatly enjoyed.

Ista is the dowager royina of Chalion, a title placing her in the top echelon of the land. She had a bad experience with one of the five gods that drove her mad for many years. Having regained her sanity, she’s eager to take some time to herself and plans a pilgrimage of sorts. However, her peaceful endeavor is hijacked by The Bastard, the fifth god whose worship is considered blasphemy by most in the land. He charges Ista with a mission, but refuses to reveal the details. It seems to have something to do with a recent plague of demons and a most unusual marital arrangement by a lesser nobleman.

I loved how this story included horror elements within the political intrigue. I did a lot of research into Vodoun for a project a few years ago, and I found a lot in this book that seemed influenced by some of the practices and mythos of that religion. It worked so well here, especially because the characters and world were so well drawn. Great book all around!

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