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Penric's Demon is an appealing fantasy novella
May 17, 2016
Penric's Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold Subterranean Press
Sci Fi & Fantasy Pub Date: May 31, 2016
Penric's Demon is an enjoyable novella that will leave newcomers anxious to read more of Lois McMaster Bujold's fantasies. It is a light and appealing read appropriate for fantasy aficionados of all ages.
Penric is an affable and intelligent young man, the younger son of an impoverished aristocratic family. On the way to his betrothal, he encounters a group of travelers, amongst them an elderly woman who is dying. As Penric comforts her, she bequeaths her greatest gift, the source of her powers, a demon. That one moment transforms his life, creating both envy and fear in those around him.
Like the heroes in fairy tales, Penric's lack of prejudice and expectations, along with his natural amiability and compassion lead him into an unprecedented relationship with his demon, Desdemona. As demons are the source of sorcerous ability, there are those who will readily kill Penric for a chance at power, and Desdemona's knowledge and ability may be the only thing that saves him. And his faith in her goodness, the only thing that saves her.
I liked Penric's Demon a great deal. As it is a novella, do not expect a long or complicated plot. It is a nice introduction to Penric and Desdemona. I will be a bit disappointed, however if Bujold does not write a follow-up having left the reader with a few tantalizing teasers.
I received a copy of Penric's Demon from the publisher and netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
On his way to his betrothal, young Lord Penric comes upon a riding accident with an elderly lady on the ground, her maidservant and guardsmen distraught. As he approaches to help, he discovers that the lady is a Temple divine, servant to the five gods of this world. Her avowed god is The Bastard, “master of all disasters out of season”, and with her dying breath she bequeaths her mysterious powers to Penric. From that moment on, Penric's life is irreversibly changed, and his life is in danger from those who envy or fear him.
Set in the fantasy world of the author's acclaimed novels The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls, and The Hallowed Hunt, this novella has the depth of characterization and emotional complexity that distinguishes all Bujold's work.