Some eight months after the events of “Penric and the Shaman”, Learned Penric, sorcerer and scholar, travels to Easthome, the capital of the Weald. There he again meets his friends Shaman Inglis and Locator Oswyl. When the body of a sorceress is found in the woods, Oswyl draws him into another investigation; they must all work together to uncover a mystery mixing magic, murder and the strange realities of Temple demons.
"Penric and the Shaman" was a 2017 Hugo Award nominee in the novella category.
“Bujold couldn't characterize badly if threatened with a firing squad.”
“Bujold is not just a master of plot, she is a master of emotion.”
- SF Site
“…richly detailed world building.”
- Library Journal
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 adds mystery to the wry humor that runs through her Penric and Desdemona fantasy series with this entertaining novella. Set between Penric and the Shaman and Penric's Mission, this tale sees temple sorcerer Penric and his indwelling demon, Desdemona, once again involved in the affairs of shamans. When another sorcerer, Magal, is murdered in the woods near Easthome, Temple Locator Oswyl prevails on Penric to assist with the investigation, as he has in the past. Penric soon suspects that Magal's demon did not transfer into another human at her death but is now probably within a fox. As shamans are wielders of animal-based magic, several of them are called in to help find and communicate with the new demon-fox hybrid. Penric is a rather ordinary young man; Desdemona is a vastly experienced demon who finds him a somewhat challenging host. Their unique relationship is full of good-natured banter, all within one physical body. Intriguing secondary characters round out the cast and enliven this unusual fantasy whodunit.
Witty and delightful, as always!
This particular Penric & Desdemona novella jumps back to a little less than a year after my personal favorite of his novellas, Penric and the Shaman, so I was overjoyed to see Oswyl (the detective) and Inglis (the shaman) again. It was a bit jarring to go from much more – uh – Learned *snicker* Penric of Mira’s Last Dance to this more innocent and somewhat more bumbling version. And as always, Ms. Bujold approaches a new tangle in the World of the Five Gods with lots of wit and intelligence. I suppose you could read this as a standalone, as I think there’s enough background given to get the gist of the story, but just do yourself a favor and read from the beginning. If you’re a fan of smart, witty fantasy, you’ll be hooked.
"Penric wondered if their Beasts had been matched to their persons in advance, or if the young shamans had taken on aspects of their possessions after acquiring them. Aspirants worked in the menagerie for some time before being paired with their powers, Inglis had mentioned, so perhaps it was more a matter of the two compatible spirits finding each other. Like a person and their god.
Or their demon, Des put in, slyly.
So what does that reveal about me?
You possess the Bastard’s own luck?
Eee. And then wondered how literally true that might be."
This is essentially a basic murder mystery, but the Bujoldian tangle is that the murdered woman was a sorceress. While it’s Oswyl’s job to investigate her murder, Penric is roped in to deal with all the little demonic details, like, oh, the small matter of where did the demon go after her host’s death? Nothing makes sense, initially. Learned Magal, while a grown woman, was a fairly new sorceress, was well liked by pretty much everyone, and had no reason to be where she was found murdered. But as they investigate more, the pieces start to fit together, and let’s just say it’s a good thing that Penric is on the scene! Besides the mystery, we also get a to meet more shamans, and get more insight into Penric’s relationship with the Princess-Archdivine, and a bunch of cute foxes. Plus, more Oswyl, whom I simply adore. I swear, I would read an entire series of just him solving cases!
As usual with Ms. Bujold’s work, highly recommended!
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Should stand alone fine. A few bits have, obviously, more depth if you've read the first lot, but if you can accept that there may be some glossing, you should be up to speed quickly if you just like foxes and want to jump in here. :)
The difference between shamans and sorcerers
...are shown in this sequel to Penric's Shaman.
Starts out with Pen (sorcerer) and Inglis (shaman) enjoying a lazy morning of fishing by a river. Pen finds out making a Great Beast of an earthworm is fraught with imponderables.
We see more of the Princess Archdivine, and more interaction between her and Pen.
It's fun. It's serious. Pen discovers another scholar who has recently come into a barony. Pen also discovers new skills and more about who he is.
You should seriously read this book.