I’ve grown to really look forward to this novella series making a regular appearance from the talented author, Lois McMaster Bujold, whose Miles Vorkosigan series was a major gamechanger in the genre – see my review of Cryoburn.
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.
Though the blurb above makes it very clear, my firm advice would be to first read Penric’s Mission before plunging into this one. While Bujold’s deft writing won’t leave you floundering, you are coming in halfway through this particular story arc and as it is a novella, it necessarily is more compressed and faster-moving than a novel so there simply isn’t the time to compensate for the inevitable gaps in the backstory.
This is another gem. I have loved the character progression Penric has undergone since becoming an accidental host to a chaos demon with twelve previous riders when a young man setting out to become betrothed. But this adventure has definitely been his greatest challenge so far, though even daily life poses its own problems as a good man trying to accommodate a very powerful chaos demon. Bujold’s talent is to give us a ringside seat while Penric is constantly having to negotiate with the demons riding him, as well as react to a fast-changing and dangerous situation when his inclination is to pore through old manuscripts. I am every bit as entranced with Penric as that half-demented, adrenaline junkie, Miles Vorkosigan.
Penric is also accompanied by General Arisaydia and his sister, Nikys who are on the run from a despotic tyrant. Tension and danger tip into farce as Penric takes some extreme steps to keep the group safe – and in doing so, certainly sacrifices any trust and a fair degree of respect the General had for him. I sniggered throughout this episode, as Penric once more is dumped into the middle of a madcap situation courtesy of his demons that he couldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams.
As with the other novellas in the series, this one has wormed its way into my head and won’t leave me alone – partly because there is no real closure on the main storyline. But the consolation is that Bujold is evidently on something of a roll with these books and I’m hoping another one is due out before the end of the year. In the meantime, if you haven’t yet had the pleasure, start at the beginning with Penric’s Demon – they are not long and reasonably priced – and if you enjoyed the Miles Vorkosigan series or appreciate intelligent, character-driven fantasy – you’ll thank me if you do.
Oh, I need to get this one! Thanks 🙂
You’re welcome! I take it you’ve read the others? I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that she is going to continue producing these novellas – they are such a treat.
Yes, not all of them, but I’ve loved the saga 🙂
The cover is captivating. I have never read these books, they must be great. Will start from the first one.
They are a delight. Clever and funny.
I will start with the Penric’s Mission.
I look forward to hearing how you get on:)).
Lovely post! You read the most fascinating books. I finished Freeks and will review it soon.
I’m very interested to see what you make of Freek, Rae:).
The very moment I saw the author’s name and “Penric” I thought “oh, this one is on my list!”. And it’s actually high up on it, but at the moment I can’t really justify buying more books. *sobs silently* But it *will* happen.
Oh, I do know the feeling! While they are novellas, Bujold has priced them appropriately, I think. Especially when considering their quality.
Sadly, until I find a job, I shouldn’t really be spending money on anything (especially on books since I have quite a few unread).
Oh… yes, I know THAT feeling. Fair enough – and best of luck with the job hunting!