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The half-mad Prince Boleso has been slain by a noblewoman he had intended to defile -- and Lord Ingrey kin Wolfcliff must transport the body to its burial place and the accused killer, the Lady Ijada, to judgment. With the death of the old Hallow King imminent and the crown in play, the road they must travel together is a dangerous one. And though he is duty-bound to deliver his prisoner to an almost certain death, Ijada may be the only one Ingrey dares trust. For a monstrous malevolence holds the haunted lord in its sway -- and a great and terrible destiny has been bestowed upon him by the gods, the damned, and the dead.

423 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published May 24, 2005

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About the author

Lois McMaster Bujold

185 books37.7k followers
Lois McMaster Bujold was born in 1949, the daughter of an engineering professor at Ohio State University, from whom she picked up her early interest in science fiction. She now lives in Minneapolis, and has two grown children.

Her fantasy from HarperCollins includes the award-winning Chalion series and the Sharing Knife tetralogy; her science fiction from Baen Books features the perennially bestselling Vorkosigan Saga. Her work has been translated into over twenty languages.

A listing of her awards and nominations may be seen here:


A listing of her interviews is here:


An older fan-run site devoted to her work, The Bujold Nexus, is here:


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 787 reviews
Profile Image for Clouds.
228 reviews632 followers
March 14, 2017
The general consensus regarding The Hallowed Hunt seems to be "good, but not as good as the first two." I disagree.

My twee summary would be "greater than the sum of it's parts." The Hallowed Hunt is a complex beast (excuse the pun) and leans more heavily on expositional dialogue than is Bujold's usual practice, but I found this theosophical adventure both engaging and rewarding.

Due to the aura of disappointment palpable in the cumulative body of Goodreads reviews, I was reluctant to start this one. I keep a pool of unread books available to select from, and something else was always more tempting.

It seems I'm not the only one to feel this way:
Book 1 - The Curse of Chalion - 16,956 GR ratings
Book 2 - Paladin of Souls - 12,518 GR ratings (74% flow-through)
Book 3 - The Hallowed Hunt - 5,441 GR ratings (just 42% B2 to B3 & just 32% B1 to B3 flow)

So less than half the readers of PoS are following on to THH, and less than a third are making it all the way from TCoC to THH. That's a poor finale rate for a trilogy.

So what's the problem?

Well, the Chalion trilogy is not a 'classic' trilogy in that it does not follow the same group of characters over different arcs of one cohesive adventure. In that kind of 'classic' trilogy, you get very strong flow through rates because it's really all one story broken into three books, and readers want to see how it ends.

The name of the series is the clue, Chalion is a kingdom (in a fantasy world), and the first two book are both stand-alone stories set in that kingdom, and while the stories aren't part of the same arc, there's enough commonality in terms of shared characters, environs and themes that the link is clear, strong and cohesive. They are two slices of the same cake. (I actually read them in reverse order, book 2 and then book 1, and they enrich each other without being required reading.)

Book 3 breaks from this on a quite fundamental level - it's not set in the kingdom of Chalion. Chalion is mentioned a couple of times as a distant land our heroes could maybe flee to, if their predicament grew too overwhelming, but that's as far as we go. As such, the name of the series is misleading to readers - if you expect another story set in Chalion, and instead you get some other land entirely... there's bound to be some confusion, which jars that initial engagements with a story.

What The Hallowed Hunt shares in common with the previous two books, is the religion Quintarianism - a truly wonderful creation which underpins all three books; a divine pantheon family, Father, Mother, Daughter, Son... & the Bastard. This is the same religion, but a different country and culture entirely.

The common element of the series is the religion, not the kingdom of Chalion, so really this should be referred to as the Quintarian Trilogy - but that's just me being picky.
Note: The series has been renamed on goodreads to 'The World of the Five Gods' since I wrote this review, so clearly someone agreed with me...

So why has Bujold done this?

I think I get it, I really do. Inspiration isn't always neat and orderly. In this world, the Five Gods are not remote and unheard - they reach down and get involved with the mortal world. Not on a daily basis, but regularly enough that each of the five orders that worships them contains a few god-touched saints at any one time, working as their paws. I think Bujold got hooked on the idea of what came before this? What was the equivalent of paganism in this land before Quintarianism spread and became the dominant faith binding many kingdoms together?

She hit on the idea of spirit warriors, transferring animal spirits into their souls to give them increased powers. Once Bujold started running with this idea, spinning of variations and complications, she had enough golden nuggets to build a book out of - with that interplay between the old religion and the new at it's heart.

But the land of Chalion that she'd constructed for the first two books didn't have this history of pagan spirit-warriors - if it had, some echo would have cropped up in the first two stories. So Bujold moved this story into new territory with a new history and back-story.

Makes sense so far. Now, talk to me about this issue with expositional dialogue.

Okay. Well, Bujold tries to make every book she writes stand alone. Her most successful series, The Vorkosigan Saga is a super-awesome space-opera that has produced 15+ books and is still going. I love it. But despite being a long-running series, with the majority focused on one hero (Miles) she still succeeds in making each book stand alone.

So Bujold is never going to rely on the audience having picked up a good working knowledge of Quintarianism from the first two books, that needs to be covered off here. And we're also setting up a whole new fantasy landscape - political structure, geography, culture, etc. All of that she handles without it impacting the story. Where it gets gnarly is when the revelations about the pagan religion start landing: this is a dead religion, our heroes are not experts in it, they've heard bits and bobs, but when you get into the twisty nitty-gritty, it gets complicated and even though Bujold does her best to pace it out, mix up the delivery through dialogue, dreams and visions, clues and intuition, etc - there's more telling than showing - which is a storytelling 101 issue that I'd never normally level at Bujold.

I can though say, hand on heart, that I didn't mind one bit.

I remember another reading saying that it felt like anything could happen and often did, and that made it all kind of meaningless. I didn't get that vibe at all.

I love Brandon Sanderson's work for his ability to set out the laws of a magical system quite bluntly, and then work through the various combinations and connotations and unexpected interactions of those rules, and make a fun and witty adventure out of it as he goes.

To me, this had a lot of that vibe. Once I caught the thread of the logic, each further twist down the rabbit-hole seemed perfectly reasonable, well foreshadowed and obvious in hindsight. She takes you to a place of very muddled ethics, where ancient history poses timeless challenges. For me, it all tracked-through perfectly, and I thought it was a top concept, really expertly illustrated.

OK - lots of praise - but only 4 stars. What held it back?

The male lead: Ingrey. The two previous Chalion leads were inspired.

1) A very bright soldier, broken by war, is given a teaching role in the royal household as part of his rehabilitation and grows from a nervous wreck into a bold adventurer.
2) A depressed, middle-age woman, escaping her sheltered, hermetic life to go on a pilgrimage and growing into a resolute, formidable saint.

Here, we're given Ingrey. A morally ambiguous courier, who has repressed his hertical spirit-animal, grows from being a detached loner into a caring husband (and morally-good hero).

It's a safer, less evocative choice. I don't know if Bujold was trying to offset a more complex concept with a more staid character, but I don't feel that trade worked.

Many of the supporting characters were delightful, but the lead was glum; he did an awful lot of glowering. He doesn't make friends easily, so there's little humour or banter. Yes, he falls in love - but he does it very seriously. In short, he's not terribly likeable, which is a difficult quality to quantify, but one Bujold can normally harness at will, so it's a bit of a shame that the supply dried up here.

It felt a little like a protagonist carefully designed to fulfil the requirements of exploring a delicate plot, rather than a protagonist designed to be loved outright, who then explodes into a plot! (see Miles Vorkosigan).

Do you realise how much you've wittered?

Gosh, yes, that's rather more than I intended to write, actually!

In conclusion?

It's a fab book - just go into it expecting something new and you wont become surprised, confused and/or dissapointed - and try not to let Mr Glowery put you off!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,976 followers
February 9, 2017
This third book is much the same and significantly different than the others, so much so that they're all about the same amount of difference between them while in the same world, but all of them have so much of the same gentleness and levels of extreme intensity. It's very odd to describe, and I'm sorry for making a hash of it, but it's still valid.

The gods are always making a mess of things, and sometimes it's so much worse than we think. Here's to the wolf! And here's to the Horse! Can we rely on the gods to help us in the mortal realm, or do they just wanna deal with the souls? Well, that's a big and important question across all the novels, and rather than just making a saint or creating a Paladin, I actually get to feel really sorry for Ingrey, our resident werewolf and god-ridden hero and the love of his life, the spirit-touched geas-ridden Ijada.

Such a fascinating and torturous tale, from how both of them are plagued by gods, how their world distrusts them, to the geas they both must fulfill, separately, even as they learn to love each other in such a serious, serious affair.

I can say, honestly, that the climax was all sorts of awesome and scary and quite unusual for a fantasy tale. The mythos that Bujold describes has been consistently borrowing from common symbolism but it's very deep and powerful all on its own and quite amazing. :) Just thinking about all those animals, iterations of animals, gives me the chills.

Very good novel and worth a lot more praise and close reading than I think it has gotten by the general public, perhaps. :)
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews830 followers
October 17, 2018
“There never was a golden age. It was always only iron.”

The World of the Five Gods is one that the readers get to know slowly. In the “Curse of Chalion” the theological rudiments are delivered, “Paladin of Souls” broadens the vista, and the Hallowed Hunt takes us deeper into the darkness coiling somewhere between the human and divine passions. It is more primal, and less sophisticated story, but nonetheless complex if not as gripping as the other two.

What you can expect is that this book, just like the predecessor, does not follow a single character nor does it continue a single story line. In fact, it set before the events and in somewhat different location. This time Ms Bujold takes us to the land of Weald, which still adheres to its pagan druid-like ways under the veneer of quintarian religion of Five Gods. The old ways and the new ways of religious worship, a tradition pitched against tradition will be therefore the main axis of the unfolding tale.

All starts with a gory murder and if this is not enough for you or you think that detective stories should not take forays into the fantasy genre, rest assured that heretical sorcery, mysterious geas, suppressed animal practices, and all sorts of political chaos follow promptly. You could say that the pace is rather slow (particularly that the protagonists spend a lot of time traveling and discussing various things), but I cannot say it acts to the detriment of the book especially that the whole intrigue unravels bit by bit, leading and misleading the reader with various prompts of which some are true and others unfounded. This requires close reading and concentration; otherwise, one can get lost easily in this intense density of tropes.

Character exposition and development is where Ms Bujold shines. Both main protagonists, Ingrey and Ijada, are beautifully flawed and intriguing in their ordinariness: a trusted aide and a dowered maiden. Again, the plot unfolds through the middle rather than the upper crust of society making the story all the more interesting. The secondary characters are even better; I enjoyed the romantic prince with a pet polar bear and the walking chaos of Learned Hallana, particularly that they brought some lightness into this very dark tale.

Sadly, Ms Bujold lost me in the last part of the novel. Once the mysteries had been solved and only needed to be dealt with, the whole thing deflated. I found the finale disappointing, both on the mundane and the divine plane. Hollow instead of hallowed, so to speak.

Good but lacking the genius of the other two books in the series. Still, it undoubtedly is a novel worth your time.

Actual rating: 3.5

Also in the series:

1. The Curse of Chalion ★★★★★
2. Paladin of Souls ★★★★★
Profile Image for Gavin.
863 reviews393 followers
August 14, 2017
The Hallowed Hunt was another good instalment in the Five Gods series. Just like the first two books in the series the story had a mix of mystery, intrigue, romance, and magic. Bujold favours a sedate pace but still has an engaging writing style. She also has a talent for making it tough to guess which direction the story will take next!

Lord Ingrey kin Wolfcliff has been tasked by his master to collect both the body of Prince Boleso and his murderer and return them to the capitol. One for the funeral and the other for a trial. It seems an easy task but is complicated when it becomes apparent Ijada, the noblewomen who killed Boleso, did so in self defence and that the Prince himself was caught up in forbidden sorcery. It could not have happened at a worse time as the political situation in the Weald is tense as the old Hallowed King lays in his deathbed. As if that was not bad enough the Gods themselves and a malevolent sorcerer have an interest in the happenings in the Weald and both have turned their eyes on Ingrey!

The story was quite enjoyable. We learned about a different sort of magic in this instalment but also learned how it was similar to the demon based magic of the previous books. The plot was interesting and managed to keep up the mystery most of the way through. Ingrey and Ijada both proved to be likeable characters and they were supported by a solid cast of memorable secondary characters.

All in all I quite enjoyed this one. It was on par with the second book in the series for quality and I look forward to reading more books set in this fascinating world.

Rating: 4 stars.

Audio Note: Marguerite Gavin did a good job with the audio of this one.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,820 followers
November 14, 2010
We have been discussing on a different thread how a person's mood, frame of mind, surroundings etc. might effect their outlook on a book. I'm forced to say, maybe that's so here. I really liked the first in this series of books, it is exceptional as is the second. Each (especially the first The Curse of Chalion) snagged me and dragged me into the story. They held my interest from the first.

Now we come to the third. I could not get into it. The author seeks here to expand further the details of the world's religion (which up to now has held up fairly well, hasn't taken away from the story and has worked internally). Here it (in my opinion) failed. We get treated to long interminable conversations about what "animal got into who" what having an animal's spirit portends, why it got there, how it got there, what it can and and can't do...on and on and on.

I really liked the earlier volumes here and rated them 5 stars. I found myself "skipping and skimming" in this one and knew I was in trouble. For me the 2 star rating is a stretch, I didn't quite feel right about going all the way to 1 star however.

Happily these books aren't that tightly interwoven and I don't lose the first two by disliking this one. I hope others of you who were looking forward to this book enjoy it more than I did, but for me...nope. For me this is a rambling book that attempts to build a story on a religious system that worked earlier but has been stretched to the breaking point in it's building, with a convoluted political plot that just doesn't hold up. That is however as I always point out, just me...I definitely plan to read more by the author I only hope maybe I get the chance to have one book out of many "not be up to what the others were" in my own writing.

Okay...I greatly liked the first 2, didn't care for this one. 2 stars.
Profile Image for Jeraviz.
915 reviews408 followers
March 19, 2023
La trilogía de Chalión no es una trilogía clásica. Son tres historias independientes, ambientadas en el mismo mundo y que puedes leer en cualquier orden. Es verdad que la primera y segunda parte tienen algo de relación y algunos personas comunes pero esta tercera parte se sitúa en otro reino y el único nexo en común de las tres es la religión.

En esta ocasión Bujold aprovecha la historia para profundizar en la parte pagana de la sociedad y no tanto en la doctrina oficial de los cinco dioses que vimos en los anteriores libros. Aquí no solo los dioses se manifiestan a través de la gente si no que el alma de las personas se puede vincular a los animales, algo mal visto en la sociedad y que es la justificación para que el protagonista empiece a investigar un crimen que parece tener que ver con estos ritos paganos.

Y esto es lo que hace verdaderamente bien Bujold. Con un ritmo pausado y con muchos diálogos, nos va mezclando religión con política e historia. Conspiraciones y asesinatos con los que el protagonista tiene que lidiar.

Aún así creo que no llega al nivel de los anteriores porque ocurren un par de cosas muy sacadas de la manga para poder avanzar en la historia y que en mi opinión le penaliza. Da bastantes más rodeos que en los anteriores y algunos tramos se me hicieron largos.

Pero sigue siendo un gran libro de una maestra como Bujold. Que no os eche para atrás si habéis leído los dos anteriores y veis que este no tiene nada que ver. Vais a encontrar una historia inteligente y bien narrada.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,551 reviews2,937 followers
April 22, 2017
I have to say... this one felt kind of like a disappointment to me after how much I enjoyed Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls. This one is actually a prequel which is set before the events of the other two, but it was written later on by the author.

In this story we follow Lord Ingrey who is tasked with bringing the Lady Ijada (accused and self-confessed killer of Prince Boleso [a rapist]) to justice. He's supposed to journey with her to the place of her trial, but along the way he starts to feel something is wrong with him and realises not all is as first appeared and Lady Ijada may be innocent and the only one he can truly trust...

The story started out well and I was definitely interested in the God's involvement and the links between humans and animals, but as it went further I found the plot becoming muddied and I felt it lost its way.

I really enjoyed the first two Bujold books I read because they brought an older and more wisened character to the forefront of the story which is something different to what I predominantly see in fantasy. Although this book also attempted to do that I feel like this character just didn't get the emotional connection I had with the first two and when that was combined with the slow world-building and messy plot, I just got a bit bored with it all (not great).

The ending of the story was pretty good at times, the beginning I really liked, the middle...meh. I feel like the real meat of the book, the central sections, just didn't wow or engage me as I wanted them to. Maybe I just wasn't excited by the character and so found it harder to enjoy this one, but sadly this prequel was one I could easily have skipped and felt no worse off.

I do fully intend to read the Penric novellas set in this world as I love the concepts Bujold creates and of the three books I have read by her I've really enjoyed two. However, this one just wasn't great for me and I found myself not willing to finish it until I forced myself to sit down and power through the last 70ish pages (not a good sign). Overall, it was ok, not great, not terrible, just kind of meh. Not one I'd recommend starting with as I imagine it may put you off the author, and yet I know some people have liked it a lot so this is just my opinion. 2*s from me.
Profile Image for Lightreads.
641 reviews525 followers
December 28, 2008
Third in her Five Gods universe, dealing with the son. I liked this better a year and a reread later. It is very much a Bujold book, by which I mean that the main character, while operating within the inner circles of power, has some affliction (curse and blessing) which makes him an outsider to the society he works to serve. In this case the affliction is the possession of an animal spirit. Which is why, I think, I enjoyed this book but it did not grab me by the heart and gut like Curse of Chalion did – the structure of the magic and Ingrey’s role in the story ensure that he has only a passing contact with the gods of the universe. And that’s the highlight of the series for me, the way damaged people are placed in the path of indescribably vast power, and how the power itself does not so much change them, but the having of it compels them to change themselves. It’s the best of both worlds, really – books that push my destiny button but also insist on absolute personal responsibility. That is not as true in this book, partly because the new magic here is not quite as compelling to me personally. Also, I feel like the canvas is just a bit too crowded – the five people who do have prolonged contact with the gods plus the additional two or three magical practitioners dragged into the final tableau are a bit much for a book with close third narration on a single person. It leaves them all deftly but over quickly sketched, so they are a bit more caricatures of strengths and flaws than I would like.

It is still a very good book, though. Ingrey is a Bujold protagonist, and by that I mean that he is very often unaware of the ways he is extraordinary. The villain is also thoroughly creepifying, and I particularly like the way the book ends, tied up neatly but with threads of uncertainty and loss and future trial woven in, much like life.

Profile Image for Kevin Xu.
273 reviews96 followers
March 26, 2016
I don't understand why all the dislike for this book?
Glad that this book wasn't the 1st in the series. If The Hallowed Hunt was the first book McMaster wrote in her World of the Five Gods trilogy, would most people continued on with the series at all to win all those awards and recognition that the first 2 books have?
Profile Image for Di Maitland.
259 reviews79 followers
July 18, 2021
4.5*s. This is a very different book to the others in the series. Its plot is more explicitly romantic, its magic shamanistic as oppose to demonic. Going on literary quality alone, it's probably not as strong as the others, but I enjoyed it immensely, probably more than I did Paladin of Souls, and that one won all the awards.

“I was imagining the most bizarre things befalling you.” “Did they include a 600-pound ice bear and a pirate poet?” “No.” “Then they weren’t the most bizarre after all.”

Whilst in publication order, The Hallowed Hunt came third, it is set 250 years earlier and far to the south-east of Chalion in a place called the Weald. There, it was not sorcerers, inhabited by demons, that wielded power, but shamans, inhabited by animal spirits, accumulated over time into Great Beasts. Four hundred years before the story starts, the country was invaded and the practice of shamanism died out, replace by worship of the Five Gods.

"She said it was no worse a barter than any and better than most, and that I should look to my own future, that it was just like a woman’s version of the same loyalty due from a man to his Prince. I said I did not think most men would...well, I’m afraid I said something rude."

The story begins when Lady Ijada dy Castos kills the Hallow King's son, Prince Boleso, after he attempted to rape her (all off page for those concerned). Lord Ingrey kin Wolfcliff, a landless aristocrat and gofer for the Royal Sealmaster, is sent to take her into custody and to transport her to the capital for trial. Forced to spent time together, they come to like and respect one another, but it sooner becomes clear that other forces are at play and someone wants her–and maybe him, and maybe the Hallow King–dead.

Listening to the book, I found the world-building quite bit over-whelming, which is why I didn't rate it the full five stars. I don't think I'd have had the same problem reading it so I'd recommend that to others. Even by audio, it did mostly come clear in the end and the narration is very good.

'"Why doesn’t your wolf help you so?" Because I have worked for a decade and more to cripple it, bind it down tight, and I thought I was safe and now your questions frighten me worse than the wolf within.’

I found the idea of spirit animals fascinating. Ingrey is possessed by a wolf spirit, but he's not what you'd think of as a werewolf. He doesn't shift, nor does the wolf speak to him, but it does lend magic abilities that become clear with time. If you've read the book and enjoyed this aspect, I'd recommend Penric's Demon to you as the second book, Penric and the Shaman, covers similar material.

‘In the utter most extremity, abandoned by all who should have protected her, she’d found that she need not abandon herself. A powerful lesson. A dangerous lesson.’

I loved both Ingrey and Ijada. Ijada is an eternal optimist. Despite her experiences, she trusts easily and believes others will do what's right. She's strong, brave, noble and resilient, but politically naive and vulnerable because of it. She's by far my favourite of Bujold's female protagonists in the series.

‘Ingrey had no burning desire to rush this acursed, naive girl to her earthy judgement either. She was not afraid of the right things. Five Gods help him, she seemed not afraid of anything.’

Whilst Ijada sees the beauty of the world all around her, Ingrey sees only the dirt under his feet as he plods along, doing his duty. He's dour and cynical, but is slowly infected by Ijada's hopeful optimism and comes to see the world in a new light. That world comes to revolve around Ijada.

"I admit, only Ingrey kin Wolfcliff would ignite with lust for a woman who bludgeons her lovers to death."

I appreciated that the romance between the two was quick to take root (though it's by no means the insta-love you see in most YA books). I adored the two of them together, each complementing the other so nicely; it was the highlight of the book for me.

“I might have anticipated some seducer, arrogant in his rank. It was the heretical sorcery and howling madness that took me by surprise."

In terms of the plot, or at least the protagonists relationship with the antagonist, I though Bujold took an unusual route. In some books, the protagonist remains completely blind to the identity of the antagonist until the very end, when there is a reckoning. In other books, the antagonist is immediately clear and protagonist mount a resistance. This book sits somewhere in the middle: the antagonist is relatively clear relatively early on, though we're kept in the dark about his plans or motives. Meanwhile, the protagonists adopt a wait and see approach, trusting him far more than I would have.

"Give over, Ingrey, I am no monster." "But I am."

I always say I like understatement, both in plots and in writing, and Bujold has a real talent for it. Her characters are gentle but undoubtedly fierce, her plots subtle but undoubtedly dramatic, and her writing cuts to the heart of it each and every time. She's a talented woman and I'd recommend her widely, to SpecFic lovers and others.

"I do not know where I am going, but I am quite weary enough of where I’ve been."

Would I recommend this book to others? Absolutely. I would recommend reading Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls first, but it's not strictly necessary. If you enjoy this, I would also recommend giving Penric's Demon a go; it's based in the same world and is an excellent collection of novellas. So far, it doesn't appear Lois McMaster Bujold can go wrong.

“We should be trying to stay alive, Ijata” “I am not at all sure,” she said rather quietly, “that staying alive is what this is all about.”
Profile Image for aPriL does feral sometimes .
1,893 reviews430 followers
September 9, 2018
'The Hallowed Hunt' is book three in The World of the Five Gods series. I was enthralled! However, a reader should start with book one The Curse of Chalion to completely understand author Lois McMaster Bujold's magical world building in this unique fantasy.

Each book follows a character introduced in a previous book in the series, so most of the continuity between books is about the world Bujold has invented and the five gods.

The gods are real! There are a variety of rules and rites designed to communicate with or placate the gods, some of which are required by the gods and others which have been developed by those god-touched or by those who are pedantic who have chosen or were chosen to serve in the temples. The gods' function is to accept the souls of people who die - or not accept them, condemning a rejected soul to permanent non-existence. Each god has his or her preferences of the human personality types whose company or lifestyle they like. But sometimes they all refuse a soul or are unable to accept one, condemning the soul to slow dissipation.

'Sins' depend on the seriousness of the crimes and can be expiated. Sometimes not. There are magical spells and talents from powerful humans infused by animal spirits or demons that even the gods are unable to undo. Being infused by an animal spirit while living is a permanent condition - and it means that that person's soul must walk the Earth after death as a ghost for decades, even centuries, until fading away into nothing. Having an animal's soul caged inside gives people extra perceptions and strengths. Few choose to commit the sin of capturing an animal's soul within their bodies in the current era of belief, but it is secretly done occasionally, especially by those who are ambitious for power. Other unlucky victims have it forced on them.

One such is Lord Ingrey kin Wolfcliff. He once was heir to his father's large holdings and authority of rule. But after an illegal animal infusing ceremony his father was performing went horribly wrong, Ingrey escaped the punishment of being killed by the temple by agreeing to a process to bind the wolf spirit now inside of Ingrey's body. Binding stopped almost all linking and communication between Ingrey and the wolf's soul.

The murder of young Prince Bolesco, the heir of the current Hallow King, stirs up a political storm. The murder took place in a rural castle far from the capital city of Easthome. Lord Ingrey is dispatched to bring Bolesco's body and the murderer back to Easthome, where the rites of burial can be performed, and the trial of the murderer can begin.

The murderer turns out to be a beautiful and young naive girl, whom Bolesco was attempting to rape. Bolesco's body has paint in ritual designs still on it in spots despite someone having tried to wash the paint off. Ingrey recognizes Bolesco was killed while performing an animal soul infusing ceremony. Did it work? He insists on seeing Bolesco's bedroom. The dead leopard is still hanging from the rafters, the servants afraid to touch anything.

Lady Ijada, the young woman, is not only beautiful, she is intelligent and angry. Ingrey realizes she has the leopard's spirit. She has been locked in a cell, but she is being treated well due to her aristocrat birth and connections. However, her family connections will not save her if she is brought to trial.

But first Ingrey must get her to Easthome safely. It becomes clear during the journey someone is trying to kill Ijada before they travel many days by horse and wagon on the rutted trails through the forest - himself!?!?!

Oh, hell. A sorcerer must be afoot.

This is a wonderfully entertaining series, full of inventive world building, thrills and chills, mystery and charming characters. Each book can be read as a standalone, but the magic and the gods are best understood if the series is read in order. Bujold slowly reveals clues as the hero overcomes dangerous situations. I think Bujold runs close to the style of chick-lit genre, if not quite going there full-on, but she does not shy away from gore or realpolitik maneuvers or imagining realistic male protagonists.
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 47 books128k followers
May 31, 2011
I LOVED the first two books in this series. Like, five stars, MUST READ, loved. I had extremely high hopes for this one, but it just didn't feel very connected to the other two. The plot was pretty stand alone from the previous, and seemed really exposition-y with the animals spirits, taking place in a different region, different characters etc. It started off well but just led to me skipping a lot to the end. I'm not sure what happened, I love this author but would probably recommend sticking to the first two of this series. Hoping she goes back to the series roots with the subsequent books. BIG FAN.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,030 followers
October 23, 2014
I screwed up & listened to this as the 2d book in the trilogy, not last. I don't think it's that big of a deal since it takes place way before the first two & has nothing but the world in common. I read the first of this trilogy when it came out & then the second, but never got around to this one. The gal that read this was quite a good reader, but different from the other two books.

The first half of the book dragged for me. I almost quit. Way too much description & thinking (exposition) on the parts of the main characters for a mere few days traveling. Yes, there was a lot to set up, but it could have been done a lot better.

The last half was very twisty & action packed. The hero was somewhat subtle. We knew his courageous, tough, & somewhat sinister reputation, but he had little ability to show it off during the first half. In the last, it shined even with the romantic theme that ran so strongly through the story line.

There were a lot of excellent characters; good, bad, & 'damn-if-I'm-sure'. Some were neither due to complicated politics & theology. I pitied the best & the worst, as well as liked or disliked them. It all added up to a great story, but due to the slow beginning, I just can't give it a 4th star.
Profile Image for Xabi1990.
1,972 reviews850 followers
March 12, 2020
Leído en 2007. 8/10.

En mi cómputo, según las publicaciones que yo tengo, de La factoría de Ideas, este es el cuarto de la saga.

Y tiene "solo" un 8/10 de valoración. "Solo" porque es una de mis autoras icónicas a las que rindo pleitesía y echo flores sin conocimiento, a diestro y siniestro. Me declaro forofo descerebrado e irredento. Y no os digo de qué va porque al ser el cuarto sobra hablar de la saga. LEEDLA, Fantasía que engancha y personajes que atrapan y enamoran. Con fuerza, con cuerpo.

Venga, va, hacedme caso que no os vais a arrepentir.
Profile Image for Bea.
440 reviews69 followers
May 22, 2023
I liked that we're in a different setting with different practices and a much earlier timeline than the last two books.
Personally didnt enjoy the protagonist and did some skimming again because some parts started feeling tedious.

Overall, series is interesting.
Profile Image for Jacqueline J.
3,466 reviews318 followers
December 11, 2019
This one lacked just a little something that the first 2 volumes in this series had. Maybe it was that the main character wasn't quite as engaging or maybe it was that the world building was a little confusing. Maybe it was because the two main characters or the hero and the woman he was interested in didn't solve this thing together. I mean in neither of the first two did the hero and heroine solve the crisis together but here it just seemed like they should have considering how it was set up. Also the hero here didn't seem to be in charge of the run away team. He was more acted upon than acting. Still it was good but Ms. Bujold sets a pretty high bar for herself.
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,151 reviews1,118 followers
August 25, 2018
Enthralling and magical, The World of Five Gods novels has all the right ingredients: sympathetic main characters that make you want to root for them immediately, intricate magic, steady pacing with very little fluff/padding, and most of all, the horror of ambitious men and women who would do whatever it takes to reach their often morbid goals. Bonus point: Gods in fantasy is one of my pet peeves. Here, their involvement is not annoying at all. I was enraptured, ensnared and bewitched. Definitely a worthy Hugo winner for best series. Onwards to the Penric novellas!
Profile Image for Lata.
3,609 reviews192 followers
May 25, 2021
Taking place years before the two Chalion books and set in a separate country, this book was not as gripping. There was a lot of stuff going on about animals spirits and gods and demons, and I just started tuning out. Plus, I never really cared about Ingrey, the main character. I could appreciate the careful plotting and worldbuilding, but the story just wasn't as enjoyable as the other two novels set in this alt-Europe.
Profile Image for Emiliya Bozhilova.
1,262 reviews186 followers
August 28, 2019
Летният фантастично-фентъзиен маратон не би бил същият без старата плетачка на думи, баба Лоис. Изплела ни е приказка край топлия огън, когато душите на отдавна забравени герои вият в нощта, все още кипят призрачни битки, свири рог в мъглата и красива девойка изпада в беда. И я е и обвила с воал от древна магия с нотка свежа ирония.

П.С. Преводът е наслада! Време е за преиздаване.

4,5 звезди
Profile Image for Denise.
352 reviews32 followers
July 1, 2017
A little convoluted. I like the World of Five God, but this was not my favorite story. Fortunately each book is a stand alone.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,438 reviews830 followers
June 3, 2021
I’ve really loved all the books set in this world and i was very fond of Ingrey and Ijada. A beautifully written story with more theosophy than the first two. The world of the five gods is so well conceived and this book has more complexity than the first two. Bujold has done a phenomenal job.
Profile Image for D.G..
1,363 reviews342 followers
July 11, 2015
**4.5 stars**

What a wonderfully complex book! Lois McMaster Bujold is a master storyteller, waving such intricate plots which she doles out little by little but still leaves some questions to the imagination. I feel like I must read this book again because I'm sure I missed a lot of the subtlety.

I can't go much into details about this story because a) I'm bound to get something wrong and b) I will give spoilers and I think this story is best enjoyed when it's uncovered by the reader. I will say though that even though this is set in the universe of Chalion, the only connection to the first two books in the series is the Quinterian religion and the 5 Gods (the Father, the Mother, the Daughter, the Son and the Bastard.) What each God stands for and the tenets of the Quinterian religion are all explained here so there's no need to read the first two books if you don't want to, although both stories are as terrific as this one.

The main character, Ingray kin Wolfcliff is the kind that you want to get behind. Extremely smart and deadly, but full of compassion and inner strength. He is one of those heroes that start the book wounded in soul and spirit because he cannot accept a part of himself. As the book progresses and he comes to understand himself and his powers, a slow transformation occurs and by the end, he comes not only to accept himself and who he is but be proud of it.

The narration by Marguerite Gavin was fantastic but with a man as the main character, I think the audiobook would have benefited from a male narrator (as long as it was as talented as Ms. Gavin, of course.) She had a wonderful range of male voices - you could really hear the wolf in Ingray's voice - and lots of subtlety. This was a story were language was fluid and intricate and Ms. Gavin narration's did it justice.

I'll definitely check out Ms. McMaster Bujold backlist and read more of her books.

Thanks to my friend ShoSho who made me pick up this book sooner rather than later.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
February 2, 2013
I have to agree with others who have said "good, but not as good as the first two." However - it's still squeaking into the 4-star range.

I also feel that in this case, marketing this as "Chalion #3" is doing the book a disservice - though set in the same world as 'Curse of Chalion' and 'Paladin of Souls,' this is a fully self-contained, stand-alone novel.

Ingrey, a bad-ass but good-hearted soldier, who just happens to have been saddled with a forbidden spirit-animal as a young man, is sent to deal with the fallout of a crime - a woman has murdered the prince. However, upon arrival, he believes Lady Ijada's story - she killed in self-defense, while the prince was assaulting her as part of an occult ritual sacrifice. Now she also, as a result of that ritual, has a spirit animal.

Ingrey finds himself taking Ijada's side, as they find themselves caught up in a complex spiral of religious manifestations, magical plots, and political machinations...

Ingrey is an enjoyable character, but my favorite character was actually the Learned Hallana - a motherly, powerful, demon-possessed doctor-sorceress with a down-to-earth attitude. I want more of her!
Profile Image for Emily.
874 reviews145 followers
June 3, 2019
2.5 rounded up to 3. Bujold is a great storyteller, but this particular audiobook listen frustrated me, because I had a hard time absorbing the concept of weald magic, which seemed so awkwardly tacked on to the existing world of the five gods. Too much about it had to be explained by the narrative means of characters puzzling things out in their heads, right up to the very end. I also found that over the course of the month or so I spent listening to this, I failed to retain many key plot details (perhaps because they had been told and not shown?), so in one way or the other I often felt I didn't really understand what was happening.
Profile Image for Cyndi.
2,338 reviews97 followers
February 9, 2017
Not sure where this book actually fits in the series. If it's a prequel to the Challion books, then they carried none of the knowledge forward. If it's a sequel it's far into the future. Same religion, brief mention of Challion. ???
Anyway, I'm glad I didn't read it first 'cause I never would have read the other two and that would have been my loss.
Profile Image for BridgeBurger Spoony.
116 reviews1 follower
September 1, 2022
Yeah, I know, all the reviews and the GR scores say this book is no Curse of Chalion or Paladin of Souls, but really, what book is? It’s excellent regardless, and in some ways improved for being so different and denying comparisons to its forebears.

Bujold takes us back a few hundred years, away from the Christian Iberia analogue of the Chalion novels and toward something like pagan Germany.

For a series as focused on exploring its religions as this one, a wildly different setting creates a very different kind of story, one more rooted in shamanism and animism, yet still with that same theological bent. A little less character driven this time around, with a greater focus on mysteries. As such, the plot itself is a tad difficult to pin down, as it shifts and weaves early on and refuses to develop into what you expect. Everything does end up coming together for a powerful climax, but I’d by lying if I said I understood it all. As much as I appreciate the intricate plotting and mysticism, it feels in need of another polishing pass to clarify details.

Bujold’s prose is as wonderful as ever. Vaguely formal and literary, with a slight sarcastic bent. The greatest quality remains how understated yet effective it is, able to deliver emotion or wonder without needing to spend paragraphs to transparently hammer a point home.

And now I’m sad we’ll never get the full quintet Bujold was planning, but it’s a good one to close it off on.
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,073 reviews373 followers
August 16, 2019
Ahoy there mateys! This is the third book in publishing order and yet the first in terms of chronology. Though the book is set in the same world, it has a completely different set of characters from the first two. There still are the Five Gods in this book but there is also other (older?) magic in the form of shape-shifters. It was compelling and yet odd at the same time. The romance also takes a bit more of center stage in this one. That’s not a judgment though, just a fact. In this book, a young woman is charged with murdering the next-in-line for the throne. It was self-defense but no one cares about that. Ingrey is charged to take the body and the accused back to the capital. He is the only one who seems to care about the truth of the prince’s death. But the circumstances of the journey are far-reaching. The ending of this book was immensely satisfying and yet something was lacking in this tale overall. I think the story was compelling but I didn’t really fall in love with the main characters. But the writing is lovely and I do be glad I read it. Plus there be pirates and an ice bear! Arrrr!

Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...
Profile Image for Kat  Hooper.
1,583 reviews398 followers
March 31, 2009
I think Lois McMaster Bujold has exactly the right idea with the Chalion series. Each book stands alone, but if you have read the first one (Curse of Chalion), you get all the background material you need to understand the geographical, political, and religious systems of her world. This means that later books (Paladin of Souls and The Hallowed Hunt) can have fresh new characters and plots, but we don't have to endure many info dumps. The magic system, meanwhile, gets more and more complex, as we learn more in each book. Perhaps best of all, the plot can wrap up at the end of each novel.

What I like best about Bujold is her wonderfully imaginative and complicated magic. I love how she lets the reader discover it a little at a time (it would be overwhelming if she threw it all at us at once). We learn about the magic as the characters do, and this makes for a lot of mystery and tension. Plots get deeper, more complex, and scarier throughout this series.

Bujold's characters are always deep, especially the point-of-view character whose private thoughts we are privy to. In The Hallowed Hunt, that character is Ingrey, a nobleman who bears a wolf spirit and has been charged to transport the noblewoman Ijada to the capital, for she's been accused of killing the prince who tried to rape her. The prince was dabbling in some dark sorcery which affected Ijada, and together Ingrey and Ijada must unravel the mystery of the spirit animals. As they learn more and more, the magic get deeper, darker, and actually quite frightening.

The Hallowed Hunt is another excellent installment in the Chalion series. I'm not rating it as highly as the others, though, because I felt like the climax at the end wasn't quite as tight as the previous two books. Ingrey, the hero, ended up correctly guessing some of the solutions and Bujold threw in a bit of romantic fluff involving two beating half-hearts that made my eyes roll. But, all in all, it was a very good fantasy and I sincerely hope that Bujold will grace us with more Chalion stories in the future.

Read more Lois McMaster Bujold book reviews at Fantasy literature.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
July 11, 2015
Not recommended for animal-lovers: Lots of spirits (mostly of animals) being pulled into the souls of people (mostly through throat-slitting), causing various powers to manifest. Complex world-building, but it just didn't engage me the way I'd hoped. I read to 75% and skimmed the rest.

For whatever reason I tend to like Bujold's SciFi better than her fantasies. Two and a half stars.
Profile Image for Kostas.
302 reviews32 followers
April 4, 2018

In The Hallowed Hunt, the third installment in the World of the Five Gods, Lois McMaster Bujold brings us to a different era that takes us, for the first time, farther from the kingdom of Chalion, deep into the unknown country of the Weald, and also in a new story that - through her incredibly wonderful craftsmanship - comes again to enchant us and to lead us to a great adventure of love and devotion; to a magical world as we have never seen it before!

From a time long-forgotten the people of the Weald lived once free and wild, following their own religions; until all that changed when Audar the Great, the leader of Darthaca, came with his army and brought them under his rule, leading them later in a continuously great war that lasted for many years before, at long last, they succeeded to regain their land's independence again.
But now, having passed many years since these events, the people of the Weald will be faced with a new turmoil when Prince Boleso - the Hallow King’s youngest son who was exiled after an unnaturally peculiar incident, is found mysteriously dead by Lady Ijada’s hands.

Ingrey, a young lord who has gone through his own, dark past, will be sent to the late prince’s remote castle to discover the events that brought him to his death, and also to bring his accused killer - who inadvertently was given an unwanted burden that can have great consequences - back to Easthome's royal court to be judged.
However, when it will be revealed to him later that a curse is following him - a curse that could force him to do something out of his control - their return to the town of Easthome will prove something more difficult than they had expected, and as their adventures they’ll have just begun, they will find themselves amidst a ploy that will threaten to bring the hallow king’s fall, and the rise of an ancient, forgotten power.

Together, Ingrey and Lady Ijada will try - with the will of the gods - to find a way and stop it all before it's too late because, if they fail, it may well lead them even to the destruction of all of what they knew.

With the previous two books focusing on the kingdom of Chalion, earning worthily high reviews and many awards for her wonderfully crafted stories, Bujold takes in this one a big challenge and brings an entire fresher story as she takes us into an unknown country to the distant past, well before Cazaril’s and Ista’s adventures.
Even though the book has, certainly, a much different feel than the previous two it has, too, its own special magic with Bujold managing not only to bring a very beautiful story, but also to take us and to a world so much familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, showing us of a past that hides its own, dark secrets.
On the other hand, of course, Bujold’s writing is, truly, a true pleasure amidst the world of fantasy literature as, once again, she manages to enchant us through her wonderful - and very well-written - characters, and also to take us to another very beautiful, magical adventure.

Overall, it is a very beautiful book that, although it is certainly much different than the previous two, as Bujold brings us into an unknown world and with completely new characters, she manages to bring again another wonderful and very special story that, through her writing, cannot but enchant you.

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