Friday, March 3, 2017

Mira's Last Dance, by Lois McMaster Bujold

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(High Fantasy; Five Gods) Gravely injured, out of money, and pursued by the imperial government, Penric needs to get himself and his two companions out of the country, despite them being so recognizable. (28,183 words; Time: 1h:33m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Funny, Tense, and Scandalous

Although this story works well enough on its own, readers should start with Penric's Demon.

"Mira's Last Dance," by , published on by .

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

Pro: Penric gets them out safely, but although his physical heart heals, his metaphorical heart is broken. His disguise as Mira amused Nikys, but him giving oral sex to a general for money was too much for her.

Nikys also got what she was after, in that Orbas does seem to be a place she can live and be safe. But the love she had for Penric in chapter one appears to be all-but-extinguished. Not just because of what he did for the general, but because it didn't faze him. "Well, that was an experience." Perhaps if he'd been upset and needed comforting she'd have been okay with it, but the way he just shrugged it off showed her she didn't really understand Penric at all.

Because of the sneaking around in disguise, this story has a lot of tension in it, and the successful escape is very satisfying. The relationship is not resolved, as we know by Penric's choice to write a letter rather than just setting sail. In a way, that's satisfying as well, because we know there will be more to come.

The Romeo-and-Juliet-like scene is an amusing bit of symbolism, since Penric and Nikys are also a star-crossed couple.

Mira's instructions to Penric, her teasing of him, and even her exasperation are very entertaining.

Con: For some reason, the relationship between Penric and Nikys doesn't generate any emotional response. We don't feel devastated when Nikys withdraws from him. Her affection for him seems real at the start of the story, but somehow it just fades away, and his interest in her never feels more than lukewarm.

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