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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: 24 July 2021

You Wish to Have the Curse Reversed?

You Wish to Have the Curse Reversed?

Traditional Narrative Motifs of Gender Reconfigured in Bujold’s Chalion Novels

(p.55) You Wish to Have the Curse Reversed?
Biology and Manners

Caitlin Herington


This chapter examines how the heroines, major and minor, of the three novels set in Lois McMaster Bujold’s ‘World of the Five Gods’ challenge and reform traditional narrative depictions of female characters in conformative fantasy fiction. The chapter shows how the novels knowingly play with some of the most frequent and socially approved models of feminine behavior that appear in conformative fantasy: the passive Princess, the Good Nun (and her inverse, the Evil Witch), as well as numerous reworkings of the Mother figure. Examining characters such as Ista dy Chalion, Princess Joen of Jokona and Cattilara dy Lutez (Paladin of Souls), and Learned Hallana (The Hallowed Hunt), the chapter shows how Bujold creates a series of female characters whose political, social, supernatural, and economic agencies move beyond the limitations of traditional depictions to present women whose authority is decoupled from their beauty or reproductive capacity. Moreover, Bujold’s novels are shown not only to present a range of female characters who find self-fulfillment and autonomy without rejection but also to be filled with complex and lively women, the presence and variety of whom is integral to the overarching project of subverting traditional fantasy motifs.

Keywords:   Conformative fantasy fiction, Fantasy fiction heroines, Female characters, Fantasy motifs, Lois McMaster Bujold, Paladin of Souls, The Hallowed Hunt

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