These notes were first compiled by Tammy Nott as part of a group discussion of The Curse of Chalion that took place on the Lois-Bujold mailing list from July to October 2002. All page numbers are from the hardcover edition. Warning: There are quite a few spoilers for first-time readers.
p.3: "He caught his breath and heaved to his feet, feeling a century old, feeling like road dung stuck to the boot heel of the Father of Winter as he made his way out of the world."
p.4: "Gold. Temptation to the weak, weariness to the
wise..." What quote is
this adapted from?
p.9: "The dream of a silent, abashed place by the kitchen fire, nameless,
not bellowed at by any creature more alarming than a cook, for any task more
dreadful than drawing water or carrying firewood, had drawn him onward into
the last of the winter winds."
p.9: "Instead, Cazaril begs a peasant for the clothes off a corpse, and is
grateful for both their favors. Is. Is. Most humbly grateful. Most
Lots of different tones you could read into these lines. Except, I don't
think Caz begged; more like, made a civil request. Some bitterness there?
And every time I read this, I want The Reader's Chair to do this novel so
that I can hear Michael Hanson's rendition of Cazaril.
I'm going to try and keep track of the mule imagery throughout the book, to
see if I can fit it into the themes, so here is the first mention, p.1:
"...parsimonious pack-men driving their mules." (when
Cazaril first hears
the mounted men behind him)
And a donkey quote, p.2: "Today, I should be happy for a donkey, though I
had to bend my knees to keep from trailing my toes in the mud."
about Cazaril's appearance and state of mind in one sentence. We get a lot
of information that way, elegant and economical.
LOTS of set-up and foreshadowing in this chapter:
1. The Daughter of Spring, Her colors, and Her order are mentioned.
2. Death magic and its odd effects are explained.
3. The Bastard, His animals, and part of His purview are mentioned.
4. Cazaril's former, higher status is indicated, though not explicitly stated. See the quote above about grateful; also p.6: "What harm was it for Cazaril to Sir a farmer?" What harm indeed, unless Cazaril had once been accustomed to much higher rank?
5. The Holy Family and all its members are mentioned.
6. Cazaril's terrible experience on the galleys is hinted at, but not made explicit.
7. The scars on Cazaril's back, their origin, and the false stories they imply are shown.
8. The dead merchant's book in cipher is introduced, used in part to convey Cazaril's intelligence.
9. Cazaril's precarious physical and emotional state is shown.
p.11: "Cast off, certainly; betrayed, perhaps. But he'd never deserted a
post, not even his most disastrous ones." A prophetic statement, though
Cazaril doesn't realize it.
p.13: "...there was no case Cazaril knew of a magical
assassination that had
not cost the life of its caster." Heh. Just wait.
The first of Bujold's characteristic humor on p.3: "Instead, Cazaril bowed
and intoned "May the blessings of the Lady of Spring fall upon your head,
young sir, in the same spirit as your bounty to a roadside vagabond, and as
little begrudged."" Also the first of the double-talk, which is my
expression for when characters say one thing and mean something else, or
mean more than just what the words said, or when they say one thing and the
listener (or reader) hears something different. Sometimes Bujold emphasizes
the double or unspoken meaning by explaining and sometimes she leaves it as
p. 7: "No good to leave it standing, it's too close to the road.
Attracts"--he eyed Cazaril--"trouble." (The farmer,
speaking of the ruined
mill) More double-talk, with the non-verbal message made plain.
A couple of general observations: The differing social backgrounds of the
characters are nicely indicated by their speech patterns. Information about
Chalion is mostly told; information about Cazaril is mostly shown. Cazaril
is the only character in this chapter to have a name, which is appropriate,
since we don't see any of the others except for one of the soldiers,
Bujoldian bon mots:
p.18, "We are slowed down. Indeed, we're stopped, " the dark-haired girl pointed out logically. "We cannot outrun your tongue, good heart, no matter how we try. It is too fast for the speediest horse in Baocia."
p.19, "Then you might meditate, Royesse, on what honor a captain
who drags his followers into an error when he knows he will himself escape
p.21, "We have what we can hold, dear boy, and never let them
see you flinch
p.29, "...a skilled soldier kills your enemies but a skilled duelist kills
your allies. I leave you to guess which a wise commander prefers to have in
his camp." And we are left to guess which kind of commander Cazaril was.
p.30, the Provincara, on the difference between power and privilege:
the right to rule--and the duty to protect! T'other is the right to receive
More setup and foreshadowing:
1.We meet Iselle, Betriz, and Teidez.
2.We learn that Ista is "not entirely well", an understatement if ever there was one.
3.Cazaril tells of his harrowing experience after Gotorget (though not in detail) and refers to the non-error that sent him to the galleys.
4.The case of the dead merchant is explained, setting Iselle up for her shenanigans in chapter 3.
5.The Bastard is explained a little more.
p.25, The Povincara to Cazaril: "You aspired to be a poet, as I
Heh. Who was it that speculated in 2001 about the Curse sparing Chalion
Cazaril's bad poetry?
p.31, Cazaril's speculation about Iselle's future (Darthaca, Brajar, the
Roknari islands) is amusing in light of her eventual fate.
Cazaril is brought to tears 3 times in this chapter and refers to previous
bouts of copious weeping. Why then don't I see him as a crybaby? Because I
never have, even when I was reading Chalion for the very first time chapter
by chapter on the web.
Is the older woman who is the last one in of the riding party Nan dy Vrit?
Mule reference, p.18: "Your grandmother bought you that lovely white mule,
Royesse, why don't you ever ride him?" Hmmm. If mules are a metaphor for
Cazaril--which I'm inclined to think they are, thanks to Mr. Rosen--then
this could be taken as a rather suggestive question. In some minds. And
Iselle's countering that it's so much more slooooow is...probably taking the
metaphor a little farther than the author intended.
p.23, "Happily, no one seized on that weak error."
(Cazaril talking about
how he got sent to the galleys) I did not understand until this reread what
that sentence was referring to and thus why the word error was italicized. A
bit too subtle on Bujold's part? Or was I not being an attentive enough
p.23, "I kept protesting til we put to sea, and then I...learned
This is a good instance of the power of the unspoken, which Bujold
frequently uses. Given what we already know of his physical condition, it's
obvious the things Cazaril left out of that statement could fill volumes.
p.24: The Provincara seems to be indignant not on Cazaril's behalf, but on
the Castillar's behalf. Rank would seem to be fairly rigid in this world.
p.21, "You will always be the great lady to me, Your Grace, whom we
worshipped from afar." Notice how Cazaril never speaks or even thinks her
name? She is always Her Grace or the Provincara throughout the book. Nice
demonstration of Cazaril's respect for her.
p.36, "But surely he might watch her with a purely aesthetic appreciation, and thank the goddesses for her gifts of youth, beauty, and verve howsoever they were scattered. Brightening the world like flowers."
p.45, "If I have a greater privilege in Chalion, surely I have a greater
duty to Chalion as well."
p.46, "It looks to me to be a trifle too late to teach Iselle to be a
coward." Bless Cazaril for putting it like that!
p.47, "The gods have surely landed you upon my wrist. Bastard's
me if I haven't the wit to jess you." With this metaphor, the Provincara
classifies Cazaril as a falcon or hawk--a winged predator that is a
challenge to capture and tame. Very different from his own self-image.
Mule imagery: The Royesse's white mule, all decorated with the symbols of
the Daughter like Iselle, bears Iselle in the procession to the temple and
Foreshadowing, p.40: "How strangely we are blinded by the surfaces of
things.", when the soldier fails to recognize Cazaril from the day before.
As someone pointed out last year, this anticipates Umegat and the camouflage
of his groom's uniform.
p.48, "Couldn't you give me a fortress under siege, instead?"
The humor faded from her face. She leaned forward and tapped him on
the knee; her voice dropped and she breathed, "She will be, soon
Cazaril and the Provincara, regarding Iselle. Iselle finally recognizes it
in the Zangre.
This was a delightful chapter with lots of humor:
Cazaril's self-consciousness around Betriz at the beginning.
p.39, "Cazaril reminded himself that he needn't try to make up for 3 years of privation in a day."
p.40, The acolytes trying to encourage people not to use "the rude versions" of the songs. As well as being a funny touch, it serves to make the background more real.
p.41, "It was considered an unlucky year, at least by the god's avatar, when the crowd could use real snowballs."
p.42, "Iselle smiled and received and blessed; the chief divine smiled and transferred and thanked; the secretary smiled and recorded and piled." This is even funnier when read aloud. Humor through repetition and parallel construction.
Iselle's entire episode with the judge and everyone's reactions. (p.42-44)
p.45, Betriz undercutting her declaration of loyalty with the disclaimer about not knowing for sure; the Provincara's likening Iselle's education to that of a hunting dog; Lady dy Hueltar and Dy Ferrij sputtering when Iselle quotes them about her duty to Chalion.
p.46, "Cazaril was profoundly thankful that he had no part in this." Hah! By the end of the chapter he's thrown into the midst of it, and with his consent, too. Given to Iselle by her grandmother, like the mule.
p.48, Cazaril's appalled reaction to his job offer and the Provincara's glee.
As Cazaril thinks over his career in response to Betriz's question at the
beginning of the chapter, we get a brief impression of the recent military
history of Chalion and it seems to be all bad ("He didn't think
a defeat he'd missed").
Between this chapter and the last, we learn a lot about Iselle, most of it
through dialogue. She has the wit to recognize injustice, the idealism to
want it righted, and the nerve and determination to act in support of her
idealism. She lacks the experience needed to apply her actions wisely just
yet and Cazaril is the only character to put into words why her action
regarding the judge was unwise.
Bujoldian bon mots:
p.51, "He could be as hollow as a drum, so long as he was as loud." which makes an interesting pairing with,
p.54, "His stomach felt suddenly as hollow as a drum, and it had nothing to do with lack of food."
p.52, "But if you desire a man to tell you comfortable lies about your
prowess and so fetter any hope of true excellence, I'm sure you may find one
anywhere. Not all prisons are made of iron bars. Some are made of feather
p.53, "On average, one-half of all supplicants to come before a judge's
bench must depart angry and disappointed. But not, by that, necessarily
p.62, "The quietude of the Provincara's household, balm to Cazaril's soul,
was doubtless acid to poor constricted Teidez." Juxtaposition of opposites
(balm vs. acid) and a subtle introduction for the way the Curse works,
Set-up and foreshadowing:
1. Orico's menagerie is first mentioned on page 57.
2. p.59 Cazaril muses on the gods, god-touched, and miracles. "Cazaril trusted devoutly that the Daughter of Spring had gone away satisfied with her avatar's action. Or just gone away..." Not a chance, Cazaril, not a chance.
3. This chapter introduces Teidez's importance as heir to the throne and the accompanying dangers in his path.
4. Dy Sanda is shown to be a man of honor, but limited, particularly in imagination.
p.62, "A viler man of like ambition might well be pandering to Teidez's
appetites instead of attempting to control them..." anticipating
"While the Provincara was in charge, Teidez was unlikely to encounter such
parasites." And look what happens when Teidez is taken from her
p.56, Cazaril considers Iselle's dowry: "Should he list himself
as Item One
in that bridal inventory?" Surely, yes.
p.51, "...the key was to take the initiative from the first
moment, and keep
it thereafter." An indirect lesson that Iselle takes to heart, rather to
Cazaril's surprise later.
No mules in this chapter!
p.50, "Never had he felt more repulsively male..." Can one feel
repulsively male? That sounds wrong to me.
p.50, "A maiden of Iselle's rank would almost never be left alone, and
certainly not with a man, even a prematurely aged and convalescent one of
her own household." This sentence is pure exposition, but it's not long
enough to qualify as infodump. Good way to inform the reader about the
p.51 "I take it you do not fancy yourself a flatterer, Castillar?"
Double-talk, as the next sentence makes plain.
Cazaril is not used to young ladies, as he explicitly states more than once;
he likens them in his thoughts to the soldiers and pages he has known and
treats them accordingly. This is their good fortune and certainly meets with
The exchange between Cazaril and Iselle on the subject of her "spectacular
gesture" at the temple increased my admiration and liking for
both of them.
The heart of it for me is the following quote, p.53: "You may
an honest man. Or you may have struck a blow for justice. I don't know. The
point is...neither do you." Cazaril not only tells her she was
also shows why it was unwise, frankly admitting his own ignorance as well.
And Iselle, having been shown her error, turns around and seeks to correct
it by the best means available to her, i.e. Cazaril.
Iselle calls Cazaril "Castillar" when she is addressing him
as her tutor,
but when she is addressing him as her secretary, she call him
Later, her use of "Cazaril" seems to signify friendship.
The differing names
emphasize shifting social interactions.
p.60: Betriz seems to be more indignant than Iselle at dy Sanda's behavior
to Cazaril. Is this an early indication of the differing quality of their
regard for Cazaril?
p.56, "A lady of rank was normally sent off to marriage with
cartloads--Cazaril hoped not boatloads--of fine goods..." Subtle
double-talk--if it's boatloads, then it's the Roknar archipelago, something
Cazaril doesn't want.
p.61, Cazaril watches in fascination as: "...four grown men
began to belabor
the boy and the obvious. Where have you been? scarely needed asked, Why
did you do that? likewise, Why didn't you tell anyone? grew more apparent
by the minute." Humor by omission (Why didn't you tell is demonstrated but
not explicitly stated)
Thinking about Teidez's poor accompanying groom at the end of the chapter:
evidently no one gave Teidez that little talk about captains leading their followers into error and lost honor thereby, or if they did, it didn't stick. Yes, Teidez does get punished, but the groom is punished much more severely.
p.71, "I'll trust your judgement--to the exact extent you trust my discretion."
p.73, "I was fortunate in my misfortunes. I survived."
p.74, "Once at sea, the sea supplied all." Such an
innocuous statement to
convey such horrors.
p.76, "So whenever fear comes back into my heart, I am more pleased than
anything, for I take it as a sign that I am not mad after all. Or maybe, at
least, getting better. Fear is my friend." His own fear may be Cazaril's
friend, but Dondo's fear is not.
p.76, "Of course, the whole world was only a few dozen paces
long, and made
of wood, and rocked on the water...all time was the turning of a glass. I
planned my life by the hour as closely as one plans a year, and no further
than an hour." Is this an early demonstration of Cazaril's yen for poetry?
p.77, "We lords, at our oars, then? We sweating, pissing,
gentlemen? I think not, Palli. On the galleys we were not lords or men. We
were men or animals, and which proved which had no relation I ever saw to
birth or blood. The greatest soul I ever met there had been a tanner, and I
would kiss his feet right now with joy to learn he yet lived. We slaves, we
lords, we fools, we men and women, we mortals, we toys of the gods--all the
same thing, Palli. They are all the same to me now." I want to know the
story behind that reference to the tanner.
Mule reference: p.76, "I did not mean to make you a donkey for my
confidences, to carry them safely away....They make a motley menagerie to
burden you with." Donkeys are not exactly the same as mules, but they are
close enough for metaphorical purposes. This might be a reference to a
Chalionese version of the scapegoat. I also thought of Ivan in Memory,
complaining facetiously about Miles burdening him like a donkey, and Miles
replying seriously that the burden might be explosive and Miles needs a
"donkey he can rely on absolutely. Palli and Ivan, both deeply loyal,
though Palli may be more straightforward about it.
Setup and foreshadowing:
1.We meet Palli and learn much through him, both about Cazaril and about the larger political context (Orico's favoring the dy Jironal brothers, Ibra's civil war).
2.We learn that Cazaril was definitely betrayed, and by whom.
3.We learn about the incident between Cazaril and Dondo dy Jironal that led to Dondo's enmity.
4.The Roknari quadrene faith is introduced, setting up Umegat's history later.
5.The idea that Cazaril died after Gotorget is introduced in this chapter, which will be crucial later on.
p.70, "You were always the most agreeable man--you were
downright famous for
refusing duels, and leaving the bullroarers to look like the fools they
were--for making peace, for wheedling out the most amazing treaty terms, for
avoiding faction--Bastard's hell, you didn't even make bets on games!" At
first glance, this looks like Bujold is breaking the writing guideline of
show-don't-tell; however, if you pay attention, she redeems it all by the
end of the book as foreshadowing. An agreeable man, we've already seen
Cazaril demonstrate. Famous for refusing duels? Too bad dy Joal didn't know
about that. Making peace, we see over and over in his advice to Iselle and
later, Bergon. Wheedling out the most amazing treaty terms like Iselle's
marriage contract. Etc., etc.
p.76, "Until the last incident with that terrified defiant Ibran boy, and
Cazaril's resultant final flogging." The first mention of Bergon!
p.77, "Well, he was surely sheltered here in quiet
Valenda." Which means
he's not going to get to stay there much longer. Shades of Miles feeling on
top of everything at the beginning of Mirror Dance.
The last sentence or two of prayer at the end of the chapter could be seen as a red herring. Did anybody take it as such?
p.63, Iselle and Betriz's "feminine attentions" and the
reason behind them
are a note of humor in constrast to the much more serious tone later in the
p.71, Palli and Cazaril's banter reinforces the impression of their
friendship. Cazaril does not verbally refer to him as a friend in this
chapter, either out loud or in his thoughts. The closest he comes is when he
introduces Palli as "my good right arm at Gotorget".
p.77, "Cazaril lay down with his pains and his memories."
And with all we
have learned this night, they are one and the same.
p.81, "All my dreams are but confused throngs, and disperse like smoke and vapors upon my waking." LMB writes these lovely lines that put me in mind of Shakespeare; this is one of them.
p.82, "My children are prisoners of fortune. And fortune is gone mad in
Chalion." followed by p.82, "I think there are worse
prisons than this sunny
keep, lady." An echo of "not all prisons are made of iron
bars" from chapter
4, but with a different emphasis.
p.85, "...any battlefield I was ever on was a lot more like a
than it was like a dueling ring."
p.86, "Stripping naked to swim would display all the old disasters written
in his flesh, a history he did not care to expound upon." I like
Others have quoted Ista on the dangerous nature of prayer, so I'll just nod
virtually in agreement.
Page 79 has the first mention of Ordol's The Fivefold Pathway of the Soul.
The conversation between Cazaril and Ista is stuffed full of foreshadowing
and double-talk. Analyzing it in detail would mean quoting more than I think
fair use in copyright law allows, not to mention taking up too many bytes.
Read it again, and go "Ooo" in appreciation.
p.85, Ser dy Sanda to Teidez: "You are destined to be a gentleman--at the
least!--not a butcher's apprentice." Two chapters later Dondo is mentoring
Teidez and, one assumes, preparing the ground for the menagerie slaughter.
Ista's methodical shredding of the rose remains a striking and disturbing image, despite many re-reads.
The idea of drowning is emphasized in this chapter (dy Lutez's death,
Cazaril's story of the night drowning, some of Ista's images).
Ista's double-talk is as much a mystery to the reader as to Cazaril the
first time through the book. Page 84, "...her occasional opacity of
discourse felt more like cipher than babble to him. Of an elusive internal
consistency, if only one held the key to it." One does possess
the key upon
later readings, so that one reads from Ista's point of view as well as
Cazaril's. Bujold has done this in previous books like Shards of Honor.
Lots of small humorous touches in this chapter, for example on page
stifled the idea repeatedly, but it kept popping up--along with other
things, alas, especially during swimming lessons." Also page 91,
gory appearance was merely the result of an afternoon training session at
Valenda's butcher's yard." Heh. Looks like Teidez won that
argument with dy
Ista and Teidez both think of Valenda as a prison; Iselle may, too. Contrast
with Cazaril thinking of it as a sanctuary.
p.96-97, "Bribe and counterbribe turned the columns back, until Chalion was become an odd interlocking dance of counting armies and armed accountants." Repetition and near-repetition for effect.
p.104, "Teidez's elevation was also the royal couple's public
of a most private despair."
p.107, "For the old man to defeat his son is like to defeating
p.109, "He could, it seemed, smile and smile, and not launch
himself at the
lying villain's throat--I'll make a courtier yet, eh?"
Mule reference, p.93: "...the whole train of riders and pack mules started
down the muddy road once more." Also, the reference to Iselle's
white mule a
few sentences later.
Set-up and foreshadowing:
1. We learn the story of Fonsa's death magic against the Golden General.
2. We meet Orico and Umegat and see the menagerie.
3. We meet the dy Jironal brothers.
4. We witness the start of Dondo's attempts to attach Teidez and Iselle to himself.
5. We learn of the attack on Bergon and his subsequent rescue, though not the details.
6. Cazaril tells about the sacred crows of Fonsa's tower.
p.94, "Lady, please do not send me blindfolded into
battle!" Cazaril makes
this plea to Ista, but might he also be making it to the Daughter, if
unknowingly? In any case, his "blindfold" is not removed
until rather later.
p.98,"The roya is visiting his menagerie, which is a great consolation to
him." Does the warder know just how great a consolation?
p.97, "...he ordered the lower windows and doors of his dead
bricked up, and proclaimed that no one should enter it again." Which
proclamation Cazaril breaks, later. Wonder if Iselle will maintain that
p.102, Cazaril, contemplating the dy Jironals "If he did nothing to draw
attention to himself, they would not be reminded of what they had forgotten,
and he would be safe. A fool's hope."
Cardegoss, the Zangre and the menagerie are vividly described. The descriptions of the Zangre are especially picturesque.
Several bits of humor throughout this chapter; for example, p.93,
"...Snowflake--who might at this point more aptly be named Mudpot..."
Leaving the reader to imagine the sight, funnier than any description.
p.98, "stabling" the royal teenagers.
p.103, "After only some seven or eight delays for last-minute exchanges and adjustments..." Only??
p.107, "...Roya Orico promptly fell asleep in his chair, to Cazaril's envy."
Cazaril's explanation at the end of the chapter of why he doesn't use his first name.
p.108-109, Cazaril's exchange with the Chancellor is all double-talk, both
knowingly and unknowingly. As Miles said in another book, "What a fabulous
array of double meanings...".
p.105, regarding the Chancellor's seal rings, "...a wealth of jewels could
not possibly have added more impact to that casual display of power." That
reminds me of the ghem-general in Cetaganda who wears no other medal but the
coveted and rare Cetagandan Order of Merit.
As I read this chapter, it occured to me that animals are present in greater
numbers and variety than in any of LMB's other books. Which makes sense,
since this seems to be a pre-industrial society.
p.93, "Iselle had clapped her hands over her ears and steered
her horse with
her knees till she'd escaped the echo of her mother's extravagent grief."
Confirmation of Iselle's riding skill.
p.93, "Cazaril, veteran of a number of hair-tearingly aggravating noble
ladies' processions..." This phrase strikes me as awkward and
over-complicated. Not sure how to say it differently, though.
There are 3 pairs of royals and Chancellors in the book: Ias and dy Lutez,
Orico and dy Jironal, and Iselle and dy Cazaril (though Cazaril doesn't
become Chancellor until the very end). If you want to be technical, you can
include the Fox of Ibra and his Chancellor, but they affect the plot and
theme far less.
Bujoldian bon mots
p.117, "--it's peace, not war, that makes wealth for a country. War merely
transfers possession of the residue from the weaker to the stronger."
p.117, "It's a wondrous transmutation, where the blood of one
man is turned
into the money of another. Lead into gold is nothing to it."
p.122, "It's easier to see the smudge on another's face than on
Though Bujold is hardly the first to state this idea.
p.122, "Not safe to say. Merely true to think."
p.125, "Time to talk, and a man of wit and certain honor to talk
Mule reference, p.117, ""His baggage train, returning to
Cardegoss, took an
hour to file through the gates." "I've had to deal with
slow mules like
that, too," murmured Cazaril, unimpressed."
Set-up and foreshadowing:
1. We see Cazaril's silliness with the crow at the beginning of the chapter and the way the same crow returns to him later.
2. The inadvertent display of Cazaril's back (the second one of the book).
3. Cazaril has a dream of a rat at the start of the chapter. An indication of the Bastard?
4. Cazaril's interest in Umegat is piqued.
p.118, "Conquest isn't the only way to unite peoples,"
Betriz pointed out.
p.121, "Royina Sara seemed a ghost to Cazaril, pale and drifting, nearly
invisible." I wonder if Cazaril still thinks that after he is able to see
p.122, "They all know she must be sold out of court, probably
out of Chalion
altogether, and is not meat for them. Teidez will be their future
livelihood." Heh, she said sadly.
p.124, "Even Cazaril had sworn himself a lay dedicat to the Son, in his
youth--and unsworn himself, when..." The first mention of Cazaril's change
p.124, "Palli was a natural, Cazaril thought with a grin, and had surely
found his calling at last." By the end, Cazaril's devotion to the Daughter
will equal or better Palli's.
Do the missing tail feathers of the crow correspond to the missing
fingertips of Cazaril's hand?
What is the source of Iselle's unease around any Roknari?
In chapter 7, Umegat is neater than Orico. In this chapter, the menagerie is
tidier than Orico's banqueting hall. I grant you, the animals are probably a
bit easier to control than the courtiers.
Crows are prominent in this chapter, both real and metaphorical.
p.125, "I take it by your very healthy appearence that your worries about
the Jironals turned out to be groundless."
Cazaril fell silent. The breeze through the embrasure was growing
chill. Even the lovers across the courtyard had gone in. "I take care not
offend either of the Jironals." he said finally." Nice
before Cazaril speaks in that passage.
p.129, "The space he had vacated seemed to collapse around his absence, as if four men had just left."
p.130, "An insulting impiety, and a violation of the trust not only of the
roya and the goddess above, but of all who are sworn to obey in their names
p.130, "Even a habitual liar may tell the truth from time to time, or an
honest man may be tempted to lie by some extraordinary need." As Cazaril
does at the end of the chapter?
p.131, "Nevertheless, liking and disliking do not constitute
proof any more
than hearsay does." I get the feeling that there is more to this than just
the incident with mad Olus; I think there might have been another memorable
time when Cazaril had to act as a witness, or determine some kind of justice
that is giving rise to this caution. I have no text evidence to back up this
p.129: Palli vows he will not return except to Dondo's funeral and makes the fivefold sacred gesture. Is this the first time we witness it?
Dondo is actually chronologically older than Cazaril, though he appears
p.132: Cazaril's caution isn't setting too well with Iselle by the end of
their exchange, as evidenced by her use of "Castillar". He
is caught between
truth and caution when she challenges him for his opinion, and settles for
speaking a lesser truth aloud.
p.134: The exchange between Iselle and Dondo is witty and courtly, but the
most striking example of Bujold's subtlety comes just afterward: "Spots of
color flared in Iselle's cheeks, and she lowered her eyes. Dondo's smile
grew satisfied." We know without being told what is going through each of
their minds and how little their thoughts match, though Cazaril's
observations make it plain a few sentences later.
Interesting structure; the chapter begins with several people talking about
Dondo in the morning. The middle portion of the chapter includes Dondo among
others during midafternoon (not necessarily of the same day), and the
chapter ends with Dondo and Cazaril conversing at night.
p.136, ""It is forgotten, my lord," The proximity of
Dondo, as close as in
Olus's tent, his slightly peculiar scent, brought it back in intense detail,
blaring through Cazaril's memory..." Cazaril can certainly lie
when he needs
This chapter does much to strengthen the portrayal of Dondo as a villain in
both the public (his misuse of his position in the Daughter's order) and the
private realms (his attempted bribery of and veiled threats towards
p.141, "The merriment in her eyes was underscored by a glittering rage and sharp satisfaction."
p.152, "We're under siege here, aren't we. Me, Teidez, all our
p.153, "The Bastard is the most subtle of the gods, my lord.
something is a trick, is no guarantee you are not god-touched."
Setup and foreshadowing:
1.We finally learn the full story behind Cazaril's flogging, setting up the
encounter with Bergon later.
2.This is the first clash of wills between Iselle and the Chancellor.
3.Cazaril gets the first sign that he is god-touched, which doesn't please him.
p.142, Cazaril after the pig incident: "He did not say aloud his
that the royse and royesse were the only people Dondo could not revenge
My heart warms to Cazaril, who likes to read in bed at night.
The pig at the beginning must indeed have been a young one if the page could
carry it unaided.
Orico's initial indecision about the accusation against Cazaril can be
interpreted on the first reading as a lack of will and wit. After we learn
of the curse and its effects, his indecision takes on a different meaning,
as does his solution to the impasse.
Dy Sanda has certainly got over his initial hostility towards Cazaril.
Umegat's conversation with Cazaril is a study in how to tell the truth and
still leave a misleading impression. p.153, "What was your father in the
Archipelago?" "Narrowminded. Very pious, though, in his
Lots left unspoken, which the reader doesn't appreciate until the second
The crow that singled out Cazaril in chapter 8 first comes to Umegat, then
flies to Cazaril again. The crow chooses Umegat, which leads to its choosing
Cazaril. This is one indication to me that the Bastard and the Daughter are
working closely together to undo the curse.
p.159, "The Bastard was the god of last resort, ultimate, if ambiguous refuge for those who had made disasters of their lives."
p.161, "If my prince is fat, or squinty, or bald, or has a lip that hangs
loose, so be it, but I will not be lied to in paint."
p.169, ""And what happens when courage makes no difference
at all, at all?"
I thought the only place that courage didn't matter was on a
Roknari slave galley. I was wrong." The hints of futility and
in the last chapter flower fully in this chapter. One of the reasons I like
Bujold's stories so much is that courage, honor, and other virtues do make a
difference for the most part.
p.171, "Rat and crow only to carry the plea, candles only to
light his way,
herbs only to lift his heart with their scents, and compose his mind to
purity of will; a will then put aside, laid wholehearted on the god's
altar." I think this is the first explicit statement of this theme, which
will become so important later.
p.172, "I really miss the flavor of a good, candle-roasted rat
I've gotten favorable comments on this quote when I put it on a message
p.173, "His tower was a fraught place, sacred to the Bastard and his pets,
especially at night, midnight in the cold rain."
p.175, "He must part with everything now, even regret. He kissed
and fled." This last conversation between Betriz and Cazaril is very
romantic and poignant to me.
p.176, "Lord Bastard, god of justice when justice fails, of
balance, of all
things out of season, of my need. For dy Sanda. For Iselle. For all who love
her--Lady Betriz, Royina Ista, the old Provincara. For the mess on my back.
For truth against lies. Receive my prayer."
Mule reference on page 155: Poor dy Sanda's body is brought back to the
Zangre on a mule.
Dy Sanda's funeral is used to convey information about funeral practices that will be crucial in the next chapter.
p.160, Some double-talk between Cazaril and the Baocian guard captain, who
did take Dondo's emerald bribe.
p.161-163: The debate in Iselle's sub-household about her possible marriage
is treat to read carefully, with all the false hints and actual
p.163, On their way to the betrothal announcement, "Cazaril ducked as a
certain foolish bird missing two feathers from its tail swooped down out of
the drizzling mist past him, cawing Caz, Caz!" I had missed this
appearance of Cazaril's self-assigned crow until now.
p.164-165: There is quite a contrast between Orico's announcement of
Iselle's betrothal and Iselle's announcement of Cazaril's betrothal in
p.168, "...the furious undervoiced argument that raged between
courtier and the red-haired maiden." Since when has Iselle been
p.172, "And if he failed...there would still be Betriz and her
Simultaneous comfort and goad for Cazaril.
Betriz and Cazaril both show themselves ready to die in Iselle's service,
Betriz with the knife to use against Dondo, Cazaril with the assassination
attempts and the death magic. Cazaril seems to consider himself Betriz's
protector as well as Iselle's.
p.176, "The candle flames guttered and died. The dark world
and went out." The most atmospheric, dramatic chapter ending so far.
Despite the rather trapped, desperate tone to this chapter, there are still
funny touches. I'm not positive about this, but I think every single chapter
in the book has some kind of humor, though the humor does get macabre at
times. It keeps the book as a whole from being gut-wrenchingly depressing,
makes it a joy to the spirit as well as the intellect.
p.177, "I am not your breakfast. I'm sorry." Both an apology to the crows and a general expression of regret for the situation.
p.180, "...bound in ropes of pearls, chained in jewels, for her dreadful
appointment with Dondo?"
p.183, "So we prepare today not for grievous wedding but joyous
p.187, "Her face was blank as though carved from an ice block, but her
raiment was a shout of color..."
p.191, "Cazaril had never read much theology. For some reason
now obscure to
him, he'd thought it an impractical study, suited only to unworldly
dreamers. Till he'd waked to this nightmare."
p.179, as Cazaril is scrambling back to the main castle:"The fourth casement window swung open to his scrabbling fingers. It was the unused lumber room." What unused lumber room? That emphasized was seems to indicate that it was referred to earlier, but I can't find the reference.
p.182, "Cazaril's grimace tilted in appreciation of her delicacy in not
inquiring, out loud before two witnesses, if he'd plotted a capital crime.
He hardly needed to speak; her eyes blazed with speculation." We've seen
Iselle's intelligence at work; now we see that Betriz is smart, too.
p.191, "The Roknari shone with a white aura like a man standing
in front of
a clear glass window at a sea dawn."
along with, "Cazaril could not understand why they did not open
bow wave of his white aura like the sea before a spinnaker-driven
it Cazaril or the author who associates Umegat (the archipelago-born
Roknari) with the sea here?
p.192, Cazaril to Umegat: "Do you know that you are lit like a burning
p.193, Umegat to Cazaril: "You are lit like a burning
city." (You are the
light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do
men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it
giveth light unto all that are in the house. Matthew, chapter 5, verses
14-15. Did LMB mean to evoke that bible verse?) This is an interesting pair
of images. Torches are supposed to burn, indeed, are made to burn; cities
are not. If a city is burning, something is very wrong. The longer Cazaril,
lit like a burning city, bears his burdens of sainthood, the frailer he
Cazaril gets his first glimpse of the curse, with the auras around Orico and
p.183, "Bless the poor soul who put his vile plans in such disarry....May
the Bastard's demons grant him whatever mercy they can." Iselle blesses
Cazaril, though she doesn't know it.
p.185-186: The exchange between Betriz and Cazaril never refers out loud to
Cazaril's attempt at death magic, though they both know he made one. The
unspoken knowledge gives the conversation an extra layer of meaning.
When did Cazaril become Caz?
p.190-191, "If Dondo's spirit had not been taken by the servant-demon back
to its master, where was it? And if the demon could not return except with
both its soul-buckets filled, where was the sundered soul of Dondo's unknown
murderer now? For that matter, where was the demon?" Heh. All
in the same
p.191, "...Cazaril felt flensed." I had to look up that one in the
It occurs to me that apart from the personal and place names and a few
titles, there is no made-up language in this book (we hear of languages like
Darthacan and Roknari, but we don't see any of the actual words).
Bujoldian bon mots:
p.196-197, "This is the most wit-full man I have met in Cardegoss, and I've spent the last three months looking past him because he wears a servant's garb."
p.198, "But, personally, I think it is not so much the growth of
simply the replacement of prior vices with an addiction to one's god."
p.198, "The gods love their great-souled men and women as an artist loves
fine marble, but the issue isn't virtue. It is will. Which is chisel and
p.199, "A saint is not a virtuous soul, but an empty one. He--or
gives the gift of their will to their god. And in renouncing action, makes
p.204, "Well, what is a blessing but a curse from another point
p.205, "The gods do not grant miracles for our purposes, but for
you are become their tool, it is for a greater reason, an urgent reason. But
you are the tool. You are not the work. Expect to be valued accordingly."
Chilling statement, that.
Unlike most of the other chapters, this one is all one scene, much of it dialogue.
Ordol's Five-fold Pathway of the Soul makes another appearance. (and how I
want to visit Chalion so I can read that book!)
Umegat, like Cazaril, is a reading man (the shelf of books, the clear bright
p.197, "My lover was about thirty then. A man of keen mind and
Such a simple, poignant tribute from Umegat.
The stories hinted at in Umegat's brief history could fill several books.
He's been lordling, lover, refugee, acolyte, divine, inquirer, spy, groom,
Umegat's explanation of the curse and how it came about is one of those
peculiar things that makes more sense to my subconscious mind than to my
conscious mind. The minute I try to analyse it, or even put it into words,
p.203, Umegat's explanation of what happened to Dondo's soul is all theory;
he says, "It is my conjecture" and "If I am
right". Not that I don't think
he's right, he more than anyone else can speak with authority about this
p.205, Cazaril says, "I am not a saint!" Heh. The most famous wrong
statement of all.
A poem for Umegat:
I here; you there--
But under those eyes, space is all-where.
I alive; you dead--
But under those eyes, all-time is spread.
But under those eyes, all things are joined;
All sorrow, and all beauty, and all spirit,
(This is "Elegy under the Stars" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh,
found in The
Unicorn and Other Poems)
p.207, "Cazaril had to allow Umegat's wine this much merit--it did mean he spent the first few hours of the next morning wishing for death rather than dreading it."
p.209, "Not metaphor or madness after all, it appeared but simple
observation. How much else, then, of the eerie things she'd said might be
not derangement, but plain truth--seen with altered eyes?" Another
definition of double-talk?
p.219, "All royses are always described as handsome, unless they're
absolutely grotesque. Then it's said they have character."
p.220, "I cannot, will not, leave my fate to drift downstream to another
disastrous falls and make no push to steer it."
Humor, p.211, "...unless a man could dither himself to death, he wasn't
going to die this afternoon."
We get the first explanation of ghosts in this chapter.
Cazaril's haunting/possession keeps getting more unpleasant.
For some reason, I'm noticing metaphorical language more than usual in this
p.210, "...the Lady of Spring has chosen a sharp-edged tool."
p.211, "The chancellor is the tongs by wich the roya attempts to handle all
matters of state..."
p.212, speaking of the ghosts: "...clustered about him like cold children
crowding a hearth"
p.214, "The Fox is rumored to be most wroth with Chalion for stirring the
pot and keeping it boiling, not that the Heir needed help putting wood on
p.217, "...plots will swirl about me."
Iselle is at times very good at eloquent non-verbal gestures; p. 220 her
hand on the map scattering the pins from the Roknari area is one example.
p.228, "But the gods are parsimonious, and take their chances where they can find them."
p.229, "Believe that the gods ask for nothing back that they
have not first
lent to you. Not even your life."
p.229, "I must trust my reason, or why else did the goddess choose a
reasonable man for Iselle's guardian?"
p.238, "I fear I am afflicted with the goddess's own internal
On page 221 there is a nice echo of sounds in one of the sentences: eerie shadows...weary sadness.
p.223, "Orico skipped to his next evasion like a man crossing
stepping-stones on a stream," This is a strange image for someone of
Orico's girth and ill-health.
p.223, When Orico promises Iselle no marriage without her prior acordance
and Sara doesn't-quite-snort, what is she thinking of? Does she know of the
changes to Orico's will, or is she thinking of something else? Orico's
pretty good at double-talking, too.
p.226, "She is not another Sara." "Neither was Sara,
once." Sara becomes
more interesting in this chapter, particularly when she tells Iselle about
the changes to the will and the truth of Dondo's ugly boasts.
p.227, Umegat tells us more about the nature of the curse.
p.234, "He must have the wit to gain you the strongest possible
negotiation with Ibra, the suppleness to avoid offending Chalion, nerve to
pass in disguise across uneasy borders, strength for travel, loyalty to you
and you alone, and courage in your cause that must not break." More
foreshadowing, though if Cazaril had known he was speaking of himself, he
might not have used such glowing terms.
The ghosts of the Zangre seem ineffectual, powerless; the ghosts we see
later at castle Zavar are much less so.
p.244, "How can the royesse choose good actions without good knowledge?"
p.250, "The confusion of mind you dub honor is a disease, for which the
Roknari galley-masters have the cure."
p.253, "...the thing in his belly reaching out to twist and
taunt and trick
him into death, and its own release..."
p.242, Cazaril is clearly not completely resigned to his fate, as evidenced by his asking about having the "tumor" cut out.
p.243, "As long as you grasp that this is not a license to exert yourself
unduly," Rojeras returned sternly. "You are plainly in need
of more rest
than you have allowed yourself." Part of the delight of this scene is the
mingling of truth and error in Rojeras's various statements and conclusions.
Cazaril would be happy to allow himself rest, but Dondo won't let him.
Rojeras is certainly a dedicated physician and researcher.
Alas, we don't see Rojeras again, despite his stated wish for a weekly
examination of Cazaril.
p.248, "His eyes were uncertain, untrusting, and, Cazaril
lonely. "I see," he said in a bleak tone, and turned on his
heel to march
out. His low-voiced mutter carried back from the corrider, "I must do it
myself..." This is mysterious on the first read and
when you know just what Teidez is planning to do.
Ser dy Maroc, no longer a dupe, is now the voice of reason in the encounter
between Cazaril and dy Joal, calling Cazaril back from disastrous madness.
Dy Maroc is Cazaril's saviour, keeping him from the murder that would have
freed Dondo. Does Cazaril realize this?
Cazaril's berserk moment with dy Joal reminds me a little of Cordelia's
attack on Mehta in Shards of Honor. Cordelia never loses herself as Cazaril
nearly does, though. She's also less vicious in victory, though you could
argue that the viciousness was Dondo's or the demon's.
p.256, Cazaril contemplates the Zangre ghosts: "...what a cold and lonely damnation was their slow erosion, loss of all that had made them individual men and women. What must it be like, to feel one's very spirit slowly rot away around one, as flesh rotted from dead limbs?"
p.259, "I think the gods do not calculate greatness as men do. I for one
find a casual destruction of a man's life even more repugnant than a
p.268, "And whose fault was it that the boy swallowed down lies,
when no one
would feed him the truth?"
p.255, "Dondo's green stone glinted on the guard captain's hand, raised to return Cazaril's polite salute." The captain who is accompanying Teidez to the menagerie slaughter. On the same page, Cazaril is prevented from reaching Orico by his worst cramp yet, almost certainly Dondo's work.
p.259, "It was normally considered bad manners to denigrate the
dead, on the
theory that they could not defend themselves. In Dondo's case, Cazaril
wasn't so sure."
p.259, "Not like the treason of Lord dy Lutez."
"That was never well
proved, even at the time." Anticipating Ista's explanation of what really
p.260, Coming from the Daughter's council, Palli says, "I've not forgotten your tale of poor Ser dy Sanda." then, on page 264 looking at the slain leopard, "Cazaril thought of dy Sanda's pierced corpse.
p.264, How does Cazaril know the saint of the Mother is going to do Umegat
any good, or is he just going on instinct? Does Clara do anything special
for Umegat or is this convenient device to bring the two remaining saints
p.265, "Cazaril was so overcome, he stamped in a circle." His most
Teidez's gradually growing self-doubt and dismay is nicely shown, as is
Cazaril, the "voice of caution" in council, is given bitter
proof that one
can be too cautious sometimes.
The question is raised of how much Dondo knew about the curse.
p.260-261, Cazaril muses on the ways the curse has corrupted Martou's
virtues, not realizing how badly Teidez's virtues are being twisted right at
that moment. Chilling.
Bujoldian bon mots:
p.271, "If he'd been more filled with truth, he'd have had less room for lies."
p.274, "When a pious ordinary man finds himself in a room with
saints--if he has any wits left--he seeks intruction, he does not feign to
p.278, "Only the saints would joke so about the gods, because it
joke or scream, and they alone knew it was all the same to the gods."
p.280, "The world demands I make good choices on no information, and then
blames my maidenhood for my mistakes, as if my maidenhood were responsible
for my ignorance. Ignorance is not stupidity, but it might as well be."
Mule reference, p.277, "The Lady of Spring must love you
dearly." "As a
teamster loves his mule that carries his baggage," said Cazaril bitterly,
"whipping it over the high passes." Is it any coincidence
that two chapters
later Cazaril is sent on a long journey taking him over high passes?
It occurs to me that none of the saints we meet are young people.
p.271, "I fail to see the secret of her pernicious attachment to
you, but I
mean to cut that connection." Is this just posturing on Martou's part, or
The whole conversation between Cazaril and Mendenal leaves me either
snickering or wincing. Or both at once; for example, p.278:
"When he forced
the words from his tongue at last, they came out a hoarse whisper. "I am
very frightened." "Oh," said the archdivine after a
long moment. "Ah. Yes,
I...I see that it would be...Oh, if only Umegat would wake up!"
p.282, Betriz uses the metaphor of pregnancy to refer to Cazaril's
possession. Does this mean he gives birth by C-section at the end? On the
same page, Cazaril thinks "And so we bear our sins." As we bear our
p.283, "If Ista had seen the ghosts of the Zangre for herself,
she must have
been lent the second sight for a time. What did this imply?" So we are
reminded of Ista a few chapters before the crucial conversation between her
p.283-284, Iselle's full formal kisses of submission to Cazaril. I mentioned
earlier her gift for an eloquent gesture. This is the most eloguent; if I
wanted a film version of Chalion, it would be for this moment.
Paradoxically, this is when Iselle seems her most royal to me.
p.292, "The coolly resisted breakdown, having breached Umegat's walls in this unguarded spot, poured through, and the man wept--not like a child. No child's sobs were ever this terrifying."
p.293, "Someone could still read books aloud to you..."
Umegat's eyes met those of the tongueless groom, who was standing to
one side still holding the Ordol. The old man scrubbed his fist across his
mouth and made an odd noise down in his throat, a whimper of pure despair.
Tears were running from the corners of his eyes down his seamed face.
Umegat's breath puffed from his lips, and he shook his head; drawn
from his trouble by its reflection in that aged face, he reached across to
grip the undergroom's hand. "Sh. Sh. Aren't we a pair,
now." He sighed, and
sank back on his pillows. "Never say the Bastard has no sense of
Ohhhh. Such a beautifully painful passage.
p.293, "I've seen people lose speech, lose control of half their body but
not the other half. Are they punished? If so, the gods are evil, and that I
do not believe. I think it is chance."
p.296, "Hey!" said Palli indignantly. "When have I failed?"
"Never, Palli. That's why I thought of you."
p.297, "Your reverence, I do not hate any man in this world enough to
inflict the results of my prayers upon him."
p.300, "Everyone fell silent in the face of that silence."
This is the soberest, saddest chapter so far.
p.298, "...Cazaril wondered if Orico had pulled a fast one with his
betrothal gift..." Most of the language in the book keeps me in the
secondary world of Chalion and its neighbors, but that expression (pull a
fast one) threw me right out. It is pure twentieth-century to my ear.
Martou is evidently not so far gone in treason as Dondo was; he seeks to
control the royal family, but not take their lives, though he has no such
scruples about their households.
p.291, "So, this was what a faithful servant of the gods, heroic and
beloved, ended up looking like." Is this simple observation or
Teidez's death makes the third in Cardegoss. Dy Sanda's death was alarming
to the protagonists, Dondo's death was a huge relief, but Teidez's death is
a disaster, both personally and politically.
p.303, "In the meantime, I will insist that Teidez be buried in Valenda, his beloved home." "Teidez couldn't wait to get out of Valenda." Snicker.
p.304, "But if I seize my ground from the very first instant, I will never
have to wrest it back. You taught me that."
p.305, "Curse or no curse, I will not be Martou dy Jironal's
bridled mare to
ride to his spurring."
p.305, "Cazaril could see it in her eyes, could see armies with pennoned
lances writhing in the black dark hanging around her like a pall of smoke
from a burning town."
p.306, "My heart is willing. But my body is occupied territory, half-laid
waste." Thus speaks the old campaigner.
p.304, "Think it through." Iselle echoes Cazaril from an
How do Iselle and Betriz conceal the fact that a significant amount of money
and jewelry has disappeared from their household along with Cazaril? I
assume he would have recorded all the valuble gifts and so forth in the
inventories, which Martou's spies would certainly try to view.
p.308, Ordol's Fivefold Pathway pops up again. A book presumably written to
decipher the ways of the gods will be used to cipher and decipher messages
between Cazaril and Iselle.
p.309, I predict Palli is going to go far as a courtier if he continues to
be as quick to take advantage of any opportunity as he is here (seeking
Iselle's opinion of dy Yarrin as General for the Daughter's order).
p.310, "Hello, boys," said Palli smoothly. "I have a
little task for you."
Power of the unspoken: we immediately know what that task is, even though he
never says it.
p.313, Double-talk between Martou and Cazaril as Cazaril is leaving
Cardegoss: ""Well, we'll watch for you." I wager you
p.302-303, "Unequal to the task though Cazaril felt himself to
she asked of him in her grief and devastation he must undertake to
Cazaril thinks Iselle wants help with the letter to Ista; in fact, that is
one of the few tasks she does not require of him.
Betriz's worry for Cazaril appears unfounded on the journey to Ibra, though
Ferda and Foix prove very useful on the way back to Chalion.
p.314, "He'd turned over in his mind all the disasters that might follow
failure; what would be his fate if he succeeded? What did the gods do with
used saints?" Foreshadowing!
p.314, "The road opened before them....Vanishing into
uncertain as the success of their mission? Nice touch. There have been some
very cool ending lines in this book.
p.320, "...saint to saint and soul to soul, for this floating moment it was an intimacy stranger and more soaring than lover to lover."
p.322, ""Except his reputation. His public honor." An
honor that had been
all in all to proud dy Lutez; who had valued all his wealth and glory but as
outward signs of it." Compare this with Aral's distinction between
reputation and honor in A Civil Campaign.
p.325, "Just tell the truth. Tell people you are pregnant with a
demon and a
ghost, and you have a tumor that talks vilely to you, and the gods guard
your steps, and see what happens next."
p.330, "Yet his new eyes rendered familiar places strange again; the world
made strange as he was remade over and over, and no place to rest at
Several echoes of earlier phrases or sentences in this chapter:
p.316, "Cazaril felt huge and awkward and filthy in this dainty sitting room." An echo of chapter 4, p.50: "Never had he felt more repulsively male--uncouth, clumsy, and degraded." p.317, Ista asks if Teidez came by his fatal wound hunting; an echo of Cazaril's inquiring of Teidez in chapter 17: "Do you hunt?" before the menagerie slaughter. p.325, Ista says of Iselle, "One more hostage to go." echoing her statement in chapter 6, "My children are prisoners of fortune."
p.319, Ista says that Ias had always known of the curse. How did he find
Bujold has never written a character to equal Bothari; however, the story of
dy Lutez's death evokes a similar emotional reaction in me, an uncomfortable
mixture of sympathy and revulsion.
p.325, "His hands were shaking from fatigue and hunger. Among
Power of the unspoken--the other things are not detailed.
p.328, "I shall say prayers for that unknown benefactor!"
Grace. I pray for him daily." Double-talk between the Provincara and
Bujoldian bon mots:
p.339, "Cazaril had no doubt he'd put the man's wits to the gallop. For his own wits he now prayed for wings."
p.340, "Any man can be kind when he is comfortable. I'd always thought
kindness a trivial virtue, therefore."
p.340, "Events may be horrible or inescapable. Men have always a
choice--if not whether, then how, they may endure."
p.342, "What is this astonishing foolishness, that shines
brighter than all
my father's gold? Can you teach me to be such a fool too, Caz?"
p.345, "Why sir. I believe she will give me an estate in Chalion that will
suit me perfectly. One pace wide and two paces long, to be mine in
p.349, "Prayer, he suspected as he hoisted himself up and turned for the
door, was putting one foot in front of the other. Moving all the same."
At the start of the chapter, Cazaril and the dy Guras obtain and ride mules over the mountain passes between Chalion and Ibra. Cazaril asks the Daughter for good mules, which she appears to grant, and gives Ferda and Foix another story to tell about him, though he doesn't realize it for some time. Don't know if, "the mule's gentle amble didn't churn his guts." is anything significant or not. p.347, "Was he nothing but a puppet on a string? Or was that, a mule on a rope, balky and stubborn, to be whipped along?" p.349, "Maybe the gods had learned from Ista's mistake, from dy Lutez's failure of nerve, as well? Maybe they were making sure their mule couldn't desert in the middle like dy Lutez this time...?"
p.333, "The salt-and-sea-wrack smell of low tide, wafting inland on a cold breeze, made Cazaril's head jerk back. Foix inhaled deeply, his eyes alight with fascination as he drank in his first sight of the sea." An economical depiction of their very different emotional reactions to the sea.
Cazaril's fear and dislike for the sea is understandable, given his
experiences, but it is still peculiar to identify with a character who
dislikes something that I like so well.
p.336, "The long far wall was pierced with a row of doors with square
windowpanes set top to bottom, giving onto a balcony-cum-battlement that in
turn overlooked the harbor and shipyard..." Zagosur must wealthy indeed to
be able to afford all that glass. Isn't it a weak spot for a fortress to
have so much?
We finally learn in this chapter that Royse Bergon and the slave boy Danni
are the same person. Bergon demands that Cazaril display his back not to
shame him, but to prove Cazaril's identity and claim him as rescuer and
friend. For once, the truth is publically known about the scars on his back.
p.338, "Cazaril's lips twisted, as he watched the Fox trying to work out
just what this made Cazaril, hero or fool." Shades of Miles in
The Vor Game,
wondering whether he's claimed to be brilliant or idiotic after Metzov's
nerve disruptor attack.
I wonder if Iselle knew that Cazaril would tell Bergon nearly everything
about the curse?
Bergon makes it clear in his private conversation that Cazaril not only
saved his body on the galley, but his spirit as well.
I very much like Cazaril's statement on p.344 that, "we maintain
the risk is
reciprocal, and so must be the clause. Iselle bears the risks of childbirth,
which Bergon never will."
The idea of a dying man being used as an unbribeable ambassador seems
familiar, but I can't remember where I might have read it.
p.347, "But her hands had kept moving, all the same." This
brings to mind
Harra's counsel to Miles, in Memory: "You go on. You just go on.
there is to it, and there's no trick to make it easier. You just go
don't have the book in front of me, so the quote may be inaccurate).
p.348, "And thought of how he'd schemed, and temporized, and exhorted his
men to faithfulness, plugged holes fought sorties scraped for unclean food
bloodied his sword at the scaling ladders and above all, prayed." Is the
lack of commas between clauses deliberate? If so, it's a nice touch, showing
how it all blurs together in his mind.
On p.339, Cazaril wonders what the Fox had heard of Gotorget, which makes me
wonder what kinds of stories people might be telling about Cazaril. Palli
mentions some of them, but surely there are others.
When I was a teenager, the word "fox" was used to describe
sexy young man or woman. I have no trouble with the Fox's nickname
(indicating cleverness, slyness, and a certain disregard for ethics) but
every so often as I read, the alternate, teenage meaning pops into my head,
and the discrepancy amuses me mightily.
p.354, "Dy Sould grew no worse, reassuring Cazaril of his diagnosis. Cazaril grew no better, but then, he didn't expect to."
p.360, "What dire urgency was it that turned it from the open arms of the
goddess to cling to this wounded world?"
p.369, "And when we fail, the gods do, too."
p.370, "She would have many, not least Bergon himself, to protect her from
her enemies, although advisors wise enough to also protect her from her
friends might be harder for her to come by..."
p.378, "If two sides, both cursed, struck against each other in civil war,
it was perfectly possible for both sides to lose. It would be the perfect
culmination of the Golden General's death gift for all of Chalion to
collapse in upon itself in such agony."
Mule reference, p.355, Cazaril warns Bergon, "'Ware bowman,
" he breathed.
"Duck under a mule."
p.369, ""I hear you do miracles with mules." "Not
me. The goddess."
Cazaril's smile twisted. "She has a way with mules, it seems."
p.351, "Cazaril wasn't even sure if this had been meant for his eyes, or
only for those of the gods, but he touched the tiny cipher secretly to the
five sacred points, lingering a little on his lips, before leaving his
chamber to seek Bergon." Cazari acts romantic.
p.355, On their way to castle Zavar: "Away, through the trees,
hear the distant squabbling and cawing of a flock of crows, and was
comforted in memory." This is a throwaway line on the first
read; it's only
on the second read that it assumes an ugly significance, when the reader
knows what the crows are squabbling over.
p.356-357 Poor Cazaril, attacked from without and within at the same time!
Cazaril seems a little out of it right after dy Joal's death, talking to the
ghosts and not seeming to care who hears him do it, (p.358, 360). Clearly,
Ferda and Foix are storing up tales about him.
Cazaril is in notably worse physical shape in chapter 24 even with the
Daughter's blessing protecting him; the death demon might have had its way
if things had gone on much longer.
p.366, "I promise you I can pass for a road vagabond."
Harking back to the
first chapter and Cazaril's circumstances.
p.370, "Cazaril swallowed, and with an effort at a casual tone got out,
"Couldn't you just see her as the future Marchess dy
Caz.:) He tried to recommend Palli to Betriz back before he asked for the
p.371, "He wondered if he could promote Palli to her if he put it as the
last request of a dying man." The way he did before?
p.374, We get another hint of how the curse might twist Iselle's strengths
(when she almost demands the full kisses of submission), though Cazaril
helps thwart it.
p.377, Betriz says, "Or at least, people stop arguing with you
possible and what's not." One wonders just what kind of arguments she had
had to prompt that observation.
p.382, "The scent of the orange blossoms pooled in the shalter of the court, seeming to mix with the honey in his mouth."
p.383, "The Daughter of Spring might have breathed out today's air, but it
was still Old Winter's water."
p.384, "While you have spent yourself trying to save Iselle...have you
discovered how to save yourself?"
p.384, "But if an hour is all the gift the gods give us, all the
to the gods to scorn it."
p.384, "I'd storm heaven for you if I know where it was."
p.392, "With blackness boiling up around them both like smoke
from a burning
p.382, Betriz makes a point of providing food for Cazaril, as she did in chapter 12 the morning after Dondo's death.
p.388, Paginine uses the phrase "god-afflicted" to describe his and
Cazaril's condition, which is a clue to the ambiguity of the gods' gifts.
p.388, ""Sometimes--not every time--He permits me to know
who is lying in my
justiciar's chamber and who is telling the truth." Paginine
doesn't always do as much good as you'd think."" This is
reminiscent of The
Mountains of Mourning, where it was not enough to have a truth drug, Miles
also had to know who to use it on and what questions to ask.
All of Cazaril's hope of lifting the curse, expressed in several previous
chapters, meets the worst setback at the end of this chapter (I haven't
saved Iselle. I've cursed Bergon).
p.394, "When two become wed, it doesn't mean that one disappears and only the other remains. We are joined, not subsumed."
p.394, "With the right to rule came the duty to protect--the privilege of
receiving protection had to be left behind with childhood's other
echo of the Provincara's aphorism from chapter 2.
p.400, "Too great a care could be as fatal as too great a
the moment came to hazard all."
p.402, "How much frustration, how much corrosion could a loyal man endure
before going mad, watching such a long slow drain of youth and hope into age
p.404, "Perhaps heaven was not a place, but merely an angle of view, a
vantage, a perspective."
p.405, "Dondo did not desire the gods. Dondo was a clot of self-will, a
leaden plug, digging into his body with claws like grappeling hooks."
p.395, "Bergon gazed at his new wife as if his eyes could swallow her. He finally said huskily, "What about me?"" Pardon me while I squee like a little fangirl over Bergon's devotion and courage (he's so COOL!!!). And over Iselle in the next sentence, emphatically refusing to sacrifice either Bergon or Cazaril.
p.397, Iselle says, "I should be by Orico, if this proves to be his
deathbed." Is this political savvy or dutiful sisterhood? Or both?
While Iselle, Bergon, and Cazaril are planning their submission to Orico, he
is almost certainly dead (Martou claims that he died the day before the
wedding, Sara and Mendenal claim that he died the day after, I think).
Drowning imagery appears again in this chapter.
All the talk about Martou striking at Taryoon or Valenda and the royal
couple making for Cardegoss by way of Valenda (or not) makes a fine red
p.400-401, Iselle says, "Uncle, Lord dy Palliar if it please you send out
what men you can find to ride in all directions for news of dy Jironal's
movements. And then we'll see what new information we have by tomorrow
night, and take a final decision then." Little do they know what kind of
information they will have, and how greatly it will affect their decisions.
The pairing of matter versus spirit is made explicit in Cazaril's musings at
the end of the chapter. The pairing has been hinted at in previous chapters,
but never so plainly as here.
Variations on a theme by LMB:
"The solution had been lying around him in pieces all this time, invisible until he'd changed. He grinned dementedly, possessed. He yielded himself up to it without reservation. All. All. There was no limit to what one man might do, if he gave all and held back nothing." (Falling Free, p.136-137)
"Real destiny takes everything---the last drop of blood and
strip out your
veins to be sure---and gives it back doubled. Quadrupled. A thousand-fold!
But you can't give halves. You have to give it all." (Mirror Dance,
hardcover edition, p.331)
"If only you were willing to betray a trust, why the most amazing range of
possible actions opened up to you." (Komarr, hardcover edition, p.106)
"When he could speak truth, and was no longer constrained to
lies, the possibilities opened up startlingly. There was so much more to
say..." (A Civil Campaign, hardcover edition, p.231)
And the climax of this chapter:
"It wasn't a case of storming heaven. It was a case of letting heaven storm you. Could an old siege-master learn to surrender, to open his gates? Into your hands, O lords of light, I commend my soul. Do what you must to mend the world. I am at your service." (Curse of Chalion, p.405)
p.407, "He howled inside with the waste of it, mad with regret that he could not die enough.
p.408, "He still didn't know who they were but he had no doubt
p.409-410, "This was a landscape of soul-stuff; colors he could
not name, of
a shattering brilliance bore him up upon a glorious turbulence." (Here
soar/With more than wing/Above earth's floor;/Here ride/Limitless on a
tide/No hawk has ever tried) The lines in the parentheses are from
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
p.410, "Souls gestated by matter in the world, dying into this strange new
p.412, "Matter invented so many forms, and then went on to
beyond itself, minds and souls rising up out of it like melody from an
instrument...matter was an amazement to the gods. Matter remembered itself
so very clearly."
p.415, "He'd been swimming in miracle every day of his life and
Mule reference, p.413: "So that when he came at last to this one, he could
offer the goddess a smooth and steady partnering...humbling parallels
involving the training of mules offered themselves to his mind." Cazaril
musing on why 3 deaths were required.
I found myself thinking of Passage by Connie Willis, and all the near-death experiences her main character recounts. I wonder what she (either Willis or the character) would think of Cazaril's?
From the exciting, deadly clash in the material world, we are led to the
even more overwhelming partnership in the spiritual world. If Martou had not
struck to kill Cazaril, he might not have lost his own life that day. Would
Cazaril have fulfilled his destiny of breaking the curse without Martou?
p.415, Cazaril asks Betriz to kiss him before he allows the sword to be
drawn out, making her question in chapter 15 a prophetic one ("must you
believe you are about to die in order to bring yourself to kiss a lady?")
Flowers are a frequent image in this chapter, associated with the goddess of
Spring, even in some peculiar situations: p.410, "Dy Jironal's sword blade
was just emerging from his back. Blood bloomed around the metal point like a
p.420, "I don't know how to open my mouth and push out the universe in words. It won't fit. If I had all the words in all the languages in the world that ever were or will be, and spoke till the end of time, it still couldn't..."
p.420, ""I have not the words for what I saw. Talking about
it is like
trying to weave a box of shadows in which to carry water." And all our
souls are parched."
p.423, "If matter that gets up and walks about, like you, is
much more is matter that gets up and flies!"
p.423, "Oh it is a great infection of poetry, a contagion of
the most Shakespearean of Bujold quotes for me.
p.424, "I promise you, I do not understand anything anymore. I
p.424, "I thought in poetry the words might bear more freight,
exist on both
sides of the wall between the worlds, as people do."
p.428, "Cazaril imagined it, her daylong secret deathwatch
beside the gelid
bloated corpse of her husband. What had she thought about, what had she
reflected upon, as the hours crept by in that sealed chamber? And yet she
had made of horror a pragmatic gift for Iselle and Bergon, for the House of
Chalion that she was departing. He pictured her suddenly as a tidy
housewife, sweeping out her old familiar rooms for the last time, and
leaving a vase of flowers on the hearth for the new owners." The
made me admire and wonder about Sara yet again.
Mule reference: On p.426, mules are carrying the baggage of Sara's household
away from Cardegoss.
p.419-420, Cazaril has to explain the full story of Dondo, the demon, and the curse to Palli, Paginine, and the archdivine of Taryoon. It's a bit startling to realize in passages like this one that not everyone knows the whole story of Cazaril's possession and sainthood, not to mention the curse.
p.421, Bergon says, of their proposed barefoot pilgrimage, "We shall watch
out for each other's steps the whole way." which is also an auspicious
beginning for their marriage and reign.
Cazaril seems to be luxuriating in not having to strive and strain in this
chapter. For example: "...his horizontal paradise of clean linens and
stillness.", "...gave himself over to a most delicious idleness.",
"...smiled with lazy delight."
p.424, Cazaril says "Action can be prayer, too.", echoing
from chapter 22 that prayer was putting one foot in front of the other.
p.426, "At length, the distant Zangre again rose before his eyes. Against
the backdrop of puffy white clouds, blue sky, and green fields, it seemed a
rich ornament to the landscape." Contrast this with the initial
of the Zangre in chapter 7, brooding against dark clouds, all fortress and
no palace. Nice symbolism.
p.427, Double-talk between Sara and Cazaril about Orico's death day; see the
quote above. Cazaril has no trouble hearing what Sara doesn't say.
Bujoldian bon mots:
p.436, "It seemed that if a man was god-touched, and yet not pushed altogether off-balance, it left him mysteriously centered thereafter."
p.437, "I need words that mean more than they mean, words not just with
height and width, but depth and weight, and, and other dimensions that I
cannot even name."
p.438, "Well, it is a particular sin to permit grief for what is gone to
poison the praise for what blessings remain to us."
p.441, "I realize now why I never saw saints, before. The world does not
crash upon their wills like waves upon a rock, or part around them like the
wake of a ship. Instead they are supple, and swim through the world as
silently as fishes."
p.442, "When the souls rise up in glory, yours shall not be shunned nor
sundered, but shall be the prize of the gods' gardens. Even your darkness
shall be treasured then, and all your pain made holy." An
for Sergeant Bothari as well as Ista.
p.431, "I am Learned Bonneret..." Learned seems to be a semi-official title; Umegat is called Learned twice, on p.275 and on p.438.
One wonders what Bonneret has been hearing from people to make him react in
such a manner to Cazaril's name.
p.432, "If Bergon was not a joy to the god, there was no pleasing Him at
all." Cazaril's fondness for Bergon shows itself.
p.434, This is the third betrothal of the book. One hopes it will end like
Iselle and Bergon's, and not like Iselle and Dondo's.
Cazaril's protests against the betrothal start to feel like too much. The
humility is no longer touching, but irritating.
p.441, Both Umegat and Ista are still recovering from their various
experiences with the curse; it would be fascinating to listen in on their
conversations, assuming Cazaril succeeds in getting them to meet.
p.441, Ista says, "I should prefer to go somewhere that I have never been
before. Not Valenda. Not Cardegoss. Someplace with no memories." Is this
foreshadowing for the next book?
As I was thinking about the novel as a whole, I noticed a pairing of ideas that I don't think got mentioned before: reason and madness. Cazaril considers himself a man of reason; he is grateful for fear because he sees it as a sign of returning sanity; he is distressed at the thought that madness will render him useless or a burden to Iselle. Cazaril's view of Ista changes from madwoman to suffering sane woman. I wondered about making a case for reason versus faith, but I couldn't quite work it out.
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