Sunday, July 10, 2016

Penric's Demon (World of the Five Gods #1.5), by Lois McMaster Bujold

Kindle Edition, July 2015

Young Lord Pnric is on his way to his betrothal in Greenwell when, five miles out of town, he encounters a party of travelers. Learned Ruchia, a divine of the fifth god, the Bastard, en route to a house of that order, has suddenly fallen ill. In fact, she has had a heart attack, and is dying. One of her party has ridden off to get help from the town. Penric feels a need to help, even if the only help he can give her is to hold her hand as she dies.

She says she's accepting his help.

And suddenly everything changes.

Ruchia was a sorceress, and the demon she has carried for many years now needs a new home. It, or she, leaps to Penric.

His life is forever changed.

He's a problem and a confusion to the divines of the Bastard's order, with no training or preparation for a role the divines of the order study and train for for years, with a low probability of reaching that goal. He's an object of envy and a target of plots from those jealous of his new power, power he so far neither well understands nor can fully control.

Oh, and his betrothal won't happen and no one, not even his own family, wants to touch him.

Penric is likable and naive; his demon is old, wary, cynical, and also surprisingly likable. There's a lot of story packed into a short space, and very, very enjoyable. I'm pleased to note that there is another Penric novella already available.

Recommended.

I received this book as part of the Hugo Finalists packet, for the 2016 Hugo Awards.