This is a reread, which I don’t normally write up, but these two books (this is the follow up to The Curse of Chalion), are just so incredibly good, I want to make sure I mention them again.
Ista is a minor character in The Curse of Chalion, the dowager royina, mother to the two children that Cazaril mentors through that book. In Curse, we find out about the terrible burden that Ista has been carrying, a burden that made everyone else think she was mad.
After the events of Curse, Ista is theoretically free, but what does that mean? She’s been defined as a widow for so long that she’s not sure who she really is anymore. When her mother passes away, she seizes the opportunity to go on a pilgrimage, not really knowing what she will find as she travels. What she finds is that the god given abilities she thought had been taken from her because of her mistakes are not gone, and they are needed more than ever.
I love that Ista is middle aged, and is the hero of this story. I love that she is fairly broken. I love that she finds her way, and finds new happiness, past the age where you’d normally expect her to be the hero of her own story. And, as always with the books set in this world, I love the gods of this world, and how they interact with people. I truly can’t say enough good things about the books Bujold has set in this world.