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.
“A novella filled with a satisfying blend of strong characters and wry humor.” (re Penric’s Demon)
- Publisher’s Weekly
“Bujold couldn't characterize badly if threatened with a firing squad, and what really keeps one turning the pages is the fascinating cast of characters.” (re PALADIN OF SOULS)
“Compelling characters and richly detailed world building.” (re THE CURSE OF CHALION)
- Library Journal
“Bujold's reworking of a classic romantic situation is distinguished by its setting in a well-crafted world and masterly creation of characters whose fates will keep readers turning the pages.” (re THE HALLOWED HUNT)
about the author:
Lois McMaster Bujold was born in 1949, the daughter of an engineering professor at Ohio State University, from whom she picked up her early interest in science fiction. She now lives in Minneapolis, and has two grown children. She began writing with the aim of professional publication in 1982. She wrote three novels in three years; in October of 1985, all three sold to Baen Books, launching her career. Bujold went on to write many other books for Baen, mostly featuring her popular character Miles Naismith Vorkosigan, his family, friends, and enemies. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. Her fantasy from Eos includes the award-winning Chalion series and the Sharing Knife series.
Bujold's Shakespearean fantasy novella returns to the story arc that began in Penric's Mission, continuing the flight of Temple sorcerer Penric, ex-general Adelis Arisaydia, and Adelis's sister, Nikys Khatai, from Imperial Cedonian forces. In the town of Sosie, Penric bargains with a local madam, Zihre, offering his magical talents for healing and vermin removal in exchange for a safe haven. So that he may travel incognito, Penric assumes the role of the courtesan Mira of Adria, one of the 10 human personalities, all female, that inhabit his demon companion, Desdemona. When Gen. Egin Chadro, commander of the local garrison, takes a fancy to Mira, it is she not Penric or Desdemona who offers the only chance of safety to the three fugitives. While Bujold's entire series has contemplated gender identity issues, this is the first time that one of the female personalities of Penric's demon has come fully to the fore. Bujold uses this transformation to help her characters glow and concludes this segment with the promise of more to come. Series fans and fantasy readers who seek well-drawn characters will love this tale.
As always, a good Bujold story!
Immediate sequel to the prior Penric and Desdemona story, taking up the story pretty much the next day. Much running around, a bit of Shakespeare side-brush, and an interesting bit about the possibility of being an unwitting answer to *someone else's* prayer. ...actually, there are at least a couple homages to Shakespearian tropes in this, I think. I am entertained. Less combat than the prior story -- I see why Bujold split these into two different novellas, as the change in tone would've not been a satisfying thing to try to bind between two virtual "covers."
It is not impossible that one might be able to enjoy this as a standalone, but it would not be my first recommendation. Spoilers for the prior story, obviously, abound. Still, if the sample intrigues and you want to read in reverse order, go for it!
Boring. Not half as good as the rest. No adventure. No threat. And frankly, I could have done without the cross dressing. Added nothing to the story.