Lois McMaster Bujold is a genius and a national treasure of course. That goes without saying. When I found myself reading the first of the Vorkosigan novels, I went on an absolute tear and read the remaining thirteen or so that were out at that point in about six months. Needless to say, it was too much, too soon, too fast. I basically got an ice cream headache from it.
It would be about impossible to do the same thing with the Chalion/Five Gods series. This novel is soooooooo slooooooow and sooooooo dennnnnnnnnse. It’s not hard to read, it’s not boring, and it’s not bad at all. But it does make you pay strict attention to what’s going on and you have to focus on keeping up. It’s not that it’s a particularly demanding novel other than the denseness of the prose.
The novel takes place years after The Curse of Chalion but is not exactly a sequel. If you hadn’t read that one you would know pretty much the same set of things from this one, but you would have to pay attention to some of the minor details. In addition, the world-building is pretty clear. The basic premise is that an older dowager is going on a religious pilgrimage. She had some connection with one of the gods, but like a lot of older European pilgramages there’s an inherent level of privilege connected to it. The novel involves a small kingdom being essentially infected with demons that attach themselves to human and animal hosts. As she gets more and more embroiled, the plot of course thickens.
It’s a worth follow-up to the first novel and I am interested by the third, but it will be a little while before I pick it up after this one.