Lois McMaster Bujold is the Fantasy Author You Need to Know About
My absolute favorite activity in the world is sitting in a comfy spot, a warm mug of coffee or chai tea next to me, while I devour the pages of a fantasy novel.
The thicker the book, the better. Something about it just makes me feel so warm and happy, like there’s a blanket of story wrapped around me.
The tradition goes all the way back to my childhood, to the frenzied nights I stayed up reading Harry Potter with a mug of tea next to me. Once everyone in the house was asleep, it was the perfect kind of quiet for reading.
I remember reading the end of The Goblet of Fire, in disbelief about Cedric’s death. I felt like I was about to die, too. It was so intense and beautiful, to experience a book that deeply.
For me, fantasy isn’t just about escape — it’s about transcendence.
There are some things that humans share, across any race and any stretch of time, and to see those same themes inserted into a more magical realm just makes me wonder about our own world. How we can make things better.
The author that encapsulates this, and who is not well-known enough, in my opinion, is Lois McMaster Bujold.
I was first introduced to her works through a book called The Curse of Chalion, which is part of a series called the World of the Five Gods. The book follows an unlikely hero — an aging former knight — who ends up saving the world in the most spiritual and beautiful of ways.
I won’t spoil much of it for you, save this: Caz is one of my favorite heroes of all time, because he is not superpowered or particularly strong — he is just an ordinary man with an extraordinary spirit.
Most of Bujold’s books have a heavy romantic element, which appeals to me as a long-time romance reader, but the adventures alone are enough to keep you interested. The gods also usually seem to have a hand in things, and fate crops up quite a bit — but everything is planned perfectly.
Bujold reminds me of a classical writer because all of her worlds and characters are unendingly original — in The Sharing Knife series, for instance, her explanation of magic and its powers is one of the most creative I’ve ever heard. But not only that, her writing style is elegant and descriptive, without boring you or getting repetitive.
It’s not often that I come across fantasy authors that grab me by the hair and pull me into their worlds. In the last few years, only a handful of books have had that power over me.
But with Bujold’s books, I find myself savoring the experience. Her characters feel like friends and even when they deal with hard choices, you can see the goodness inside of them. I don’t want to pages to end.
As a fantasy writer myself, I’ve learned quite a bit from Bujold’s writing. I haven’t ventured into her sci-fi books yet, but like I said, I’m savoring the experience. I want to leave more friends yet to be met.
If you haven’t checked her work out yet, start with The Curse of Chalion. I promise you that you won’t regret it.
Sam Ripples is an essayist and novelist living in southern Colorado. She has an interest in words that provide the mind, body, and soul with rejuvenation and hope. You can follow her on Twitter here.
More by Sam Ripples: