by Lois McMaster Bujold Series: Penric and Desdemona #5 Also in this series: Penric’s Mission
, Mira's Last Dance
, The Orphans of Raspay Publisher: Subterranean Press Publication Date:
February 28, 2018 Genres: Fantasy Pages:
200 Source: NetGalley
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.
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.
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!