Title: Mira’s Last Dance
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Series: Penric and Desdemona #5
In this sequel to the novella “Penric’s Mission”, the injured Penric, a Temple sorcerer and learned divine, tries to guide the betrayed General Arisaydia and his widowed sister Nikys across the last hundred miles of hostile Cedonia to safety in the Duchy of Orbas. In the town of Sosie the fugitive party encounters unexpected delays, and even more unexpected opportunities and hazards, as the courtesan Mira of Adria, one of the ten dead women whose imprints make up the personality of the chaos demon Desdemona, comes to the fore with her own special expertise.
Fourth novella in the “Penric and Desdemona” series.
Source: Bought it
This novella was a delight. Firstly, because it came out so relatively soon after Penric’s Mission, and since it picks up right where that one left off, this is a very good thing. Secondly, I make no secret of how much I adore LMB’s writing, so it always feels like a gift when I find out she’s released something new.
Mostly, though, this novella is a delight because we get to spend so much time with Mira, one of Desdemona’s previous riders. Penric and his demonic companion are natural magnets for trouble (that would be the chaos side of his demon) and it’s always interesting to see how they get out of their latest scrape, especially when the solution is as entertaining and yet strangely touching as this.
Mira was a courtesan a hundred years or so before Penric’s time, but her expertise comes in very handy as Penric attempts to keep his companions – Nikys and former-general Adelis – safe by taking refuge in an unexpected place. I love the inference that prayers to the Bastard God may have brought them there, just not any of that trio’s making.
While less hectic and action-packed than the previous book, I found this every bit as enjoyable because of the way Penric and Desdemona continue to grow and interact. Their relationship is wonderfully complex and seeing Mira emerging from the mix shed further light on Des’ long existence. It also showed just how difficult it can be for Pen at times sharing his head with ten women. Which of course impacts on his tentative, hopeful relationship with Nikys, as yet more impediments are thrown in the way, but I love his relentless optimism and willingness to try.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this. It was great to see what happened next after Penric’s Mission, and also to spend more time with these characters and in this world. I also loved the Romeo and Juliet reference and the slightly farcical turns it all took at times. Still, there was heart and charm and intelligence even at the silliest moments, which just reminds me how much I enjoy this world. Here’s hoping there will be more to enjoy again soon.
Mira’s Last Dance is Out Now!
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