An almost perfect fantasy novel, with one major exception. Cazaril is a compelling hero but there are parts where his heroism seems less a function of himself than of the story. I loved that he had personality and flaws, but the author sometimes seems to forget those flaws and forego realism for the epic, when a few more lines explaining the manifestation of his inner strength might have served to ground his actions in the believable. I spent the whole book rooting for him, but in scenes such as his last confrontation with dy Jironal, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief long enough to really enjoy what was happening, which quite drew me out of the book altogether. Otherwise, it’s an excellent novel, and I loved the philosophical underpinnings of the religious system. Lois McMaster Bujold writes beautifully, with the occasional intrusion of the hero-on-steroids trope the only flaw in this otherwise excellent book.
On a side note that didn’t affect my enjoyment of this novel: I was somewhat horrified at how easily Ista passed off the (truth of the) death of dy Lutez. I’m hoping it’s addressed in the sequel, Paladin Of Souls, which I’m about to gleefully devour.