Title: Penric’s Mission
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Series: Penric and Des #3 (World of the Five Gods #1.7)
In his thirtieth year, Penric fell in love with light…
Learned Penric, a sorcerer and divine of the Bastard’s Order, travels across the sea to sunlit Cedonia on his first covert diplomatic mission, to attempt to secure the services of a disaffected Cedonian general for the Duke of Adria.
However, nothing is as it seems: Penric is betrayed and thrown into a dungeon, and worse follows for the general and his kin. Penric’s narrow escapes and adventures — including his interest in a young widow — are told with Bujold’s remarkable energy, wit and humor. Once again, Bujold has created unforgettable characters and a wondrous, often dangerous world of intrigue and sorcery.
Third novella in the Penric and Desdemona series.
Source: Bought it
My love for this series and world knows no bounds, so when I read that a third Pen and Des adventure was out, I snapped it up without even bothering to read the blurb. Having absolutely loved the first one, and enjoyed the second, I settled into this newest adventure with an instant sense of familiarity.
It’s been more than a decade since Penric and Desdemona came together and they now make a formidable team. I loved the amount of work the pair of them do together in this tale. Their partnership has really grown and developed over the years, but they are still two very distinct personalities, for all that they share a body – and a voice. Their adventures in Cedonia provide them with ample opportunity to show this and it’s definitely my favourite part of the story.
Poor Pen still bumbles about from time to time, talking to himself and appearing totally mad (as three boots, no less) to outside observers. But he and Des make a lot of sense amongst the babble, and I love how comfortable he’s become with is role and his duty to the Gods. He remains rather trusting at times, but he’s also determined and intelligent and I loved his attempts to sermonise, even if he isn’t always listened to as closely as he deserves.
But this story is about more than just Penric and Desdemona. We also meet a popular and potentially dangerous general, whom Pen is travelling incognito to bargain with, and the general’s widowed sister, Nikys. I loved Nikys, she’s a proper LMB heroine – practical, competent, smart. She brings with her more than a hint of romance, but mostly understanding and fascination for both Pen and Des. She’s a very good match for them. Her brother is more of a challenge, for various reasons, but he certainly provides much fodder for Pen and Des to get their skillful teeth into.
The ending of this novella is much more open than the previous two, leaving a lot of things still to be decided. It worked for me as far as it went, but it’s less of a standalone than the previous adventures. I also felt a little lost at times with all the place names and struggled to orientate myself in the world. It wasn’t enough to ruin my enjoyment, but it did leave me wishing for a map.
Overall, though, this is another fine addition to this series within the series. There is peril, romance, humour, tragedy and triumphs, and ample Desdemona moments. All of which made me very happy indeed. I hope there will be more soon.
Penric’s Mission is Out Now.
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