Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
This second novel in the ‘World of the Five Gods’ series is more of a follow up to the first, ‘The Curse of Chalion’, rather than a direct sequel. We follow the adventures of Dowager Royina Ista, a secondary character in the first novel, as she escapes the oppressive atmosphere of her home by embarking on a pilgrimage tour of Chalion. Captured by a Jokonan raiding party, Ista is rescued by Lord Arhys and taken to Castle Porifors, where she discovers the Gods have a plan for her, which involves saving the souls of demon-possessed nobles and fighting off a Jokonan invasion of Chalion. Not quite the restful pilgrimage journey she was expecting.
The author has produced another top quality fantasy novel in Paladin of Souls, a deserved winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards for best novel in 2004/5. As in the first novel, the prose flows effortlessly, leading to a real page turner, with an engaging plot and entrancing, well-rounded characters. There is not really anything to fault in this novel — it is simply fantasy as it should be written. Highly recommended.