Lois McMaster Bujold has released another novella set in her World of the Five Gods. And once again, she does it in such a sneaky fashion that I completely missed it!
While the Five Gods series has three novels under its belt so far, Lois has been adding a number of stories to the series focused on a young man named Penric, who has become a host to a demon, who he dubbs Desdemona. Penric is a first for Desdemona – despite having close to a dozen previous hosts, she had never had the pleasure of possessing a man before. Penric, having gotten over the initial shock years prior, has accepted Desdemona, and the sorcerous powers she lends him, as part of his life.
Since his possession, Penric has become well-travelled, but by no means a stranger to kidnappings, imprisonments, and threats of bodily harm. If it weren’t for his quick wits, and sorcery, he would have died many times over by now.
This time around, Penric has the misfortune of taking passage on a ship that ends up being captured by island raiders. While escaping the situation just by himself would be old hat for Pan right now, he is a man with a soft heart. And when he’s thrown into the hold with two young orphan girls, who were only trying to reconnect with their father, he finds his heartstrings pulled left, right and centre.
So of course, his escape turns into a rescue mission. And because both he and Desdemona decide it wouldn’t do them any good to draw attention to the fact that Pen is a demon-possed sorcerer, the pair have to get creative.
It’s always a joy to get a new Penric and Desdemona novella, and this one is no exception. These stories have become a bit of a comfort read really – Pen and Das are known qualities now, and the stakes are rarely so high that you believe that either of them are at real risk; so you can just sit back, relax a bit, and enjoy finding out how they manage to get themselves out of this particular tight spot. Desdemona, especially, is in particularly fine form here, gleefully delivering her own brand of chaos to those she thinks deserves it. The two orphan girls also manage to be endearing, without being cloying
The flip side of this though is that very little happens in the way of development. I think the high point for that was back in Penric’s Mission.
Overall though, this was still a fun romp and an enjoyable companion on a rainy afternoon. I certainly don’t want them to stop, by any means!
Now I can’t remember when Pen was born, so I can’t use the Birthday square as is so this is a Reader’s Choice, just to fill in that row.
That’s Bingo #2 down, and probably the best I can manage.