This is the second book in Bujold’s Chalion series, and it looks like the series is here to stay. She’s having far too much fun with this world to give it up. Paladin Of Souls see the focus of her attention shift from Cazaril to the formerly cursed dowager Royina Ista. Now that the curse is lifted, she longs to be free of the prison of manners and ladylike custom she has been trapped in for so long. She decides to undertake a modest pilgrimage, just to get her out of Valenda castle and away from her supposed servants and ladies-in-waiting, who insist on treating her like she is still mad and cursed and incapable. The battle she has on her hands just to escape from her well-meaning but ill-informed custodians is just a shadow of what she will encounter along the way.
Ista is in interesting character, one who will be familiar to anyone who has read Bujold’s other books. She is headstrong, a natural leader, constrained by her position in life, and determined to defy others’ expectations of her. There are obvious parallels with Cordelia Naismith and Ekaterin Vorsoisson, but that’s no bad thing. I found the highly mannered, historical romance writing style a bit difficult to get to grips with at first, but it soon becomes transparent. Bujold clearly loves Chalion, its religion and its magic, and she leaves the way clear for plenty of further adventures. They’ll definitely be worth looking out for.