Although The Hallowed Hunt bears all the hallmarks of Bujold’s tremendous craft, it never really came alive for me. It’s set in the same world as her two previous books (The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls), but in a different country, and there is no overlap of characters. The story concerns the murder of a prince and the possible re-emergence of an ancient power. It’s a tale of romance and purgatory, involving clever use of the (very real) Five Gods theology Bujold has established for this world.
Right from the start, this had two things working against it: a low-tech, feudal fantasy setting, and flowery language. I must be getting crusty as I get older, because my tolerance for lordlings and princesses is really low. Bujold overcame my resistance in the other Chalion books, but it seems like her writing style here has taken a turn for the precious, with lots of old-fashioned turns of phrase and elaborate description.
I don’t mind the romantic side of the book, but it sorely lacks Bujold’s traditional themes of gritty practicality and inner strength. With a few exceptions, very little happens in The Hallowed Hunt that requires the characters to take a stand and turn the story around. Most of the time they just go with the flow, and merely express great concern along the way.
I hate to say this, but I found it dull, and I had to force myself to keep reading.