This is another excellent book from the reliable Bujold, and again it is extremely well-read. For the record, this is the third of three books (The f..Show More »irst being Curse of Chalion), all set in the same feudal-style fantasy world, but they are almost entirely unrelated in terms of plot and character. This book is set in a different area of the continent than the previous two novels, and could stand alone, thought the earlier books do spend more time developing the unique cosmology and theology of the universe.
That underlying theology - a world with five active, benevolent gods where the worst fate is to die without being taken into any of the five "heavens" - informs much of the plotline, which twists and turns in logical, yet unexpected, ways as the story progresses. It combines elements of high fantasy, political intrigue, and theological musings with dark, almost Wuthering Heights, romantic elements. (But don't let that scare you off if you don't like romantic novels, there is plenty of magic and action as well).
Unlike so many fantasy novels, there is no Dark Lord and no impending cataclysm driving the plot - though there are ancient wrongs that must be discovered and undone, they are at a much more human level, and it is at the level of character interaction that Bujold writes best. Her characters are unique, often quite humorous, and her dialogue is natural and tight. The reader, with only a few exceptions, handles the range of characters with great grace. The result is an impressive, well-written change from the usual multi-book epics of Robert Jordan or George Martin, that should appeal to fantasy fans of all kinds.
This brief tale is an enjoyable listen if you're a fan of Lois McMaster Bujold's wonderful character-driven fantasy, and if you've already read her ma..Show More »gnificent "Curse of Chalion."
"Penric's Demon" takes place in the same world as "Chalion"--the World of the Five Gods--although it's set 100 years earlier and in a different country. And in this time and place, the world seems less dark, the gods more benevolent, and the demons less destructive than in "Chalion." Penric, the rather naive younger son of a minor noble family in the sheep-herding, cheese-producing hinterlands, is on his way to his betrothal ceremony when he stops to help a dying old woman. But no good deed goes unpunished. The dying woman is a "learned divine" (priestess) and (oops!) a sorceress, so instead of becoming betrothed, Penric winds up hosting the dead divine's demon, "Desdemona." Grover Gardner, is, as always, a terrific narrator.
To sneak in a review of another book, I strongly suggest reading "The Curse of Chalion" before "Penric" (or any other Five Gods tale). The spellbinding magic and theology of this world is much better served by the slow, subtle, and magnificent unfolding of its mysteries in "Chalion" (and its sequel, "Paladin of Souls") than by the balder and more straightforward presentation in this prequel novella. In fact, Penric inspired me to listen to "Curse of Chalion" again--I first read it two years ago--and I've been even more impressed the second time around. That's saying something, since I was blown away the first time. "Chalion" recently made both Amazon's and Goodreads' "Top 100 SF/Fantasy Reads," and deservedly so; I'd put it in the top 25. It's a superb, beautiful tale of heartbreak and courage, suffering and magic, betrayal and redemption.
I'm not sure whether I heard correctly, and I don't have the printed books to check, but to me Penric's family name sounded suspiciously similar to the family name of two of the major characters in "Curse of Chalion." Makes me wonder if Bujold might have a "bridge" book in the works. Anything she publishes is cause for celebration, so that or any other book from her would be good news!
Very fun and enjoyable read w/ a light feel,deft humor, and a moving plot line... It's lighter fantasy w/ an airy and easy mood... The exploration o..Show More »f life's grief and guilt is touching w/o being corny...This book brings together story elements from the previous and integrates the magical systems from the previous books w/ style... These last two Penric novellas are as good as anything heretofore in the series... As good as the 1st book in this fantasy universe... Penric and Desdamona are as likable as most any fantasy pairing/team... The narration is perfect and the story has a wonderful pace making it a real page turner... Can't wait for the next installment!!
I have been a fan of Bujold's work for years. Now that she is semi-retired, she seems to be focusing on telling novella length tales about Penric and..Show More » the demon (who he named DesDEMONa) who changed his life forever. These tales have a wonderful mixture of humor and philosophy and character building. I recommend reading (or listening to) the three tales in order, to watch how Penric and Desdemona develop and the way they learn to work together. I don't want to go into details about the plot, but this novella has Penric traveling to a place new to him, but a country where Desdemona started her demon life hundreds of years earlier. I especially love the visual impact, as Penric sees this sunny land for the first time. The ending may be a bit abrupt for some, but I find it hopeful, as Bujold is obviously leaving an excellent jumping off place for further adventures.
The Penric novella's are richer if readers/listeners also know the three full length novels set in the World of the Five Gods. If you move on to them, I recommend starting with The Curse of Chalion. But I feel that the novella's can stand alone.
I have yet to read any of LMB's work that does not play the full range of my emotions. She has an incredible knack of turning a person cursed with see..Show More »mingly unconquerable disabilities of the mind, body or/and heart, giving them an impossible set of tasks and turning them into a hero that takes the reader on a wonderful adventure.
I thoroughly enjoyed the world she has spun with the Chalion series. It does a brilliant job at showing the multi layers that make up each true humans.
This is a first class sequel to a first class story (The Curse of Chalion). One could listen to them out of order but would miss a lot, because the a..Show More »uthor spends a lot of words in the first book creating a unique theology that provides the fantastic aspects of the story.
The plot is a standard "quest", set in a preindustrial world organized along feudal lines, but the characters are likable, and this writer is as good at involving the reader in the story as any writer I've encountered (check out her Miles Vorkosigan adventures). The main character (like the author) is female, and to my (male) mind, she is a believable heroine who succeeds in her quest in a way that would not make you think of Sir Galahad (or Gandalf for that matter.