The Curse of Chalion is different from any other fantasy story I had read. It's relatively low on the fantasy, but it is strongly apparent that the story's world is not ours due to the names and places, and the quintet of gods which rule over the world.
The style of the writing is excellent. Although the story is slow and action scenes are limited, Bujold writes with a tone that is reminiscent of literary classics rather than fantasy. There isn't an overabundance of world-building and info dumps or intricate details of clothing and titles.
This is refreshing, but it also makes The Curse of Chalion very different from typical fantasy, due to its realism. There are no dragons or fantastical beasts, no dark wizards or enchanted forests. Although there is magic in the world, the people can't readily verify its existence or understand how it works, as it is tied to the mystery of the gods.
Cazaril is a wonderful character. He was developed very well, although the rest of the cast isn't as much. This may be due to the fact that Iselle and Betriz are young women whose personalities are just beginning and that the story is really Cazaril's story.
I liked how everything fit together and there weren't any gaping plotholes or unnecessary side stories. The story is long, and at times, it did dragged alone, but I was invested in the world and wanted to know the end result.