Paladin of Souls takes place just after the events of The Curse of Chalion and focuses on Ista, one of the minor middle-aged female characters from that book. Paladin of Souls can stand alone, but you’ll get a lot more out of it if you read The Curse of Chalion first.
Bujold’s world of Chalion is believable and complex, the magic is deep, fascinating, and just plain scary. Bujold is particularly good at developing multi-faceted characters who have beautiful relationships with each other. Ista is an intelligent widow with a tragic past who wants to change her circumstances and make the world better for herself and others. She’s utterly charming and she’s surrounded by a group of equally charming secondary characters. Together they go on a pilgrimage just so Ista can get away from her life for a while. They get caught up in a war involving sorcerers and demons and, as they try to save the world, they discover spiritual truths that are both wonderful and terrible.
Paladin of Souls won several prestigious awards, including a Hugo and a Nebula. The audio version is beautifully read by Kate Reading. This is a great story that I highly recommend.
Related: Penric & Desdemona (2015- )