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Biology and MannersEssays on the Worlds and Works of Lois McMaster Bujold$
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Regina Yung Lee and Una McCormack

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621730

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621730.001.0001

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date: 04 August 2021

Untimely Graces

Untimely Graces

Gender, Failure, and Sainthood in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Paladin of Souls

(p.35) Untimely Graces
Biology and Manners

Regina Yung Lee


This chapter argues that reading sainthood in Bujold’s novel Paladin of Souls requires forcible recognition of the social constructions of gender, power, and normal life in Chalion, through their eventual disruption by the Bastard, fifth god of the Chalionese pantheon. Reading the novel through Ista dy Chalion’s first and second sainthoods result in comprehensive transfigurations of both the individual and her social contexts, through reconfigurations of gender, family, sexuality, and devotion, which cohere in a rereading of Ordol’s Sermon of the Cups. These lenses together mark sainthood as a form of queer failure, an inability to reproduce or represent normative life narratives or biographies, and centralizes this queering as the primary mode of divine presence throughout the novel.

Keywords:   Ista dy Chalion, The Bastard, Ordol’s Sermon of the Cups, Chalionese sainthood, Social construction of gender, Queer failure, Paladin of Souls

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