Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Penric's Mission, by Lois McMaster Bujold

★★★★☆ Great continuation of Penric and Desdemona's adventures

(High Fantasy; Five Gods) Penric's secret mission to Cedonia gets off to a bad start when he's arrested and thrown into a pit to die. (45,239 words; Time: 2h:30m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘RHorton.r+2 πŸ‘RSR+1 (Q&A)

This review assumes you already read the previous two novellas, starting with Penric's Demon. This story is strong enough to stand alone, but it's much better if you read the other two first. Also, Bujold considers it a novella even though it's a bit over the limit.

"Penric's Mission," by , published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2016.807 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The central story here is Penric's struggle to win Adelis's approval so he can be with his sister, Nikys. Penric is very weird, so this is a very hard sell, despite Penric saving Adelis's eyesight. It was a good touch that Adelis took a while before he was willing to believe Penric at all. (Visualize someone "channeling" a demon and it's very clear that his objections are not at all unreasonable.)

The secondary story (although it generates all the action) is the effort to escape from Cedonia and get somewhere Adelis can work his way back into power.

The writing is excellent, with good narration, great dialogue, and plenty of suspense and action. Desdemona steals the show, but she's a big part of what we came to see, so that's okay.

It helps a lot that Penric's power is limited by several factors, most importantly that he'll lose Desdemona if he has her kill anyone. And the conflict with the sorcerer at the end is amusing.

Con: Nikys is surprisingly passive. Penric wins her heart without really trying to, but she's still willing to abandon him merely because her brother said to.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree with the rating. Very good story.

    I didn't have a problem with the way Nikys was written. It felt like to me that women didn't have a lot of independence on their own...if you read her bits carefully. I also think she was feeling lonely as a young widow (who really did not want another military husband), and Penric fitted the requirement.

    1. Could be. Certainly she eventually grew on as the series progressed.