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By Carol on 01-10-16
A Kinder, Gentler Demon
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 magnificent "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!
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
By Debbie Winn on 02-22-16
Great story telling
Since I'd read/listened to the other books in LMB's World of the Five Gods, I looked forward to this new book. It did not disappoint. It stands alone, in that the characters and events are wholly set apart from the others. That being said, having been introduced to this system of gods in prior books, I think it was easier to fall into the pace of the tale. I think the God called the Bastard might be LMB's favorite to work with, since that is the god over disasters, catastrophes, and events that happen out of time. More scope for the imagination, as Anne Shirley might say.
Penric is a young man on his way to his betrothal ceremony. Obviously things happen to change his course, and his life. While he is a country bumpkin of sorts, he isn't stupid, and learns quickly that there are benefits to his changed circumstances, and dangers as well. The events take place pretty quickly, making this tale a perfect length to read between other books.
Grover Gardner narrates the story with the mastery he has shown in LMB's Vorkorsigan books. He is the perfect voice for Penric.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful