Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold

Penric's Demon, Lois McMaster Bujold, World of the Five Gods, Hugo Award nominee

Published: July 2015 by Subterranean Press
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: World of the Five Gods #1.5
Genres: Fantasy
Source: NetGalley
Reading Challenges: Once Upon A Time X
Available: Publisher (print) ~ Abbey’s ~ Amazon~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

On his way to his betrothal, young Lord Penric comes upon a riding accident with an elderly lady on the ground, her maidservant and guardsmen distraught. As he approaches to help, he discovers that the lady is a Temple divine, servant to the five gods of this world. Her avowed god is The Bastard, “master of all disasters out of season”, and with her dying breath she bequeaths her mysterious powers to Penric. From that moment on, Penric’s life is irreversibly changed, and his life is in danger from those who envy or fear him.

Penric’s Demon is the first thing I’ve read by Lois McMaster Bujold and I can see I’ve been missing out.

I liked Penric. He’s reasonably intelligent but naive, making him a great way to experience the World of the Five Gods for the first time. Having grown up in a rather backwater mountain valley, the city of Martensbridge is as new and amazing to Penric as it is to the reader. However, while I love a character with a sense of wonder, it was Penric’s kindness that really endeared him to me. He loves his home and gets disgruntled when people look down on it, even when he later concedes they may have cause. He also treats those around him with unfailing respect and generally believes the best of them. Bujold cleverly makes this both a hindrance and a help.

I found the author’s approach to demons to be quite a novel one. Saying more risks spoilers, but I will note I enjoyed it a lot.

The pacing was excellent. Bujold manages to skillfully convey information to the reader without resorting to info-dumps. I never felt lost or overwhelmed, even though the world was new to me. Being a novella, there’s always a risk that the story will feel too short or unfinished. However, there was enough conclusion to keep me satisfied while still leaving me craving more.

Overall, I found Penric’s Demon a great introduction to Bujold’s work and it has inspired me to seek out more.