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.
Source: Bought it
I am a huge fan of Lois McMaster Bujold, it’s ridiculous how much I love her books and the Chalion/World of the Five Gods series is my absolute favourite – mostly because of those Five Gods or, rather more accurately, because of the Bastard God. So when I found out there was a new novella from that world and featuring demons and a dedicate of the Bastard Himself… well, my squee of delight could probably have been heard in space.
And the absolute best thing about all of this – LMB didn’t let me down. She never does. This may only be a novella, but it’s a beautifully crafted one that’s packed with all the hallmarks I love from her longer work. Penric is not the most impressive of heroes – he’s a younger son without any prospects, he’s not strong or particularly brave, in fact he’s lanky and skinny-looking, and although he thinks he might quite like to go to university he’s not all that clever, he just wants to get away from his quiet, backwater town and its mountains of cheese.
Penric’s also kind hearted, which is how he ends up with a demon. I love how even the slightest brush with the Bastard God causes disruption and disaster, in season or out. There’s so much mischief and cunning humour involved whenever the Bastard (or his followers) pass by and poor Pen gets saddled with a barrel load. I particularly enjoyed his demon and the many personalities it had gained over its long existence. I also loved that there’s nothing stereotypical about it – but then when has anything to do with the Bastard been predictable.
Fun, beautifully told and very satisfying, I loved every second of this novella. Penric is a decent guy and his demon definitely helps keep things interesting, even without the flurry and confusion they cause amongst the temple divines. Yes, I might have seen where certain things were headed before Pen ever did, but that didn’t reduce my enjoyment one bit. I can’t even complain that it was too short, because there’s nothing rushed or forced about the pacing. I do wish there was more, because I always will when it comes to this setting, but as a story this one reaches its proper conclusion.
Overall this is a lovely treat for fans of the series, while also providing a decent in-road for newcomers. If you haven’t ventured into this world yet and you like fantasy with intrigue, exquisitely crafted worlds and a religion you wish you almost wish you could convert to, then lucky you, what a treat you have in store.
Penric’s Demon is Out Now!
Visit Lois McMaster Bujold for more details.