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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

The Shape of a Hero’s Soul

The Shape of a Hero’s Soul

Exploring the Paradox of Fate and Free Will in The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls

(p.97) The Shape of a Hero’s Soul
Biology and Manners

C. Palmer-Patel


This chapter explores the nature of prophecy, fate, and the ‘destined hero’ in Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls. These motifs, dominant in modern heroic epic fantasy, imply that if a hero lives according to their destiny, they are incapable of acting of their own free will. The chapter explores how the hero and heroine of the two novels, Cazaril and Ista, make choices when faced with prophecy and destiny, and this allows Bujold to combine the paradox of fate and free will in such a way as to create a narrative with open possibilities and interpretations. In both novels, the chapter argues, Cazaril and Ista can only fulfil destiny by asserting their free will.

Keywords:   Lois McMaster Bujold, Paladin of Souls, The Curse of Chalion, Prophecy, Destiny, Free will, Epic fantasy

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