Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Orphans of Raspay (Penric and Desdemona #7),by Lois McMaster Bujold

Spectrum Literary Agency, July 2019

Penric, now married to Nikys and attached to the Duke of Orbas when he's not needed for other duties, would much prefer to stay home in the Duke's capital with his wife. Instead, he continues to be sent off on missions that turn out to be more complicated and dangerous than they should have been. On their way home from the latest, the ship he and his demon, Desdemona, are on is captured by pirates, tossed into a hold on the pirates' own ship where they find two orphan sisters, and carried back to the pirates' island base.

The girls, Lencia and Seuka Corva, were attempting to travel to reach their father after the death of their mother when their ship was captured by these pirates. The obvious fate of all three, when they reach the island that has become a pirate company town, is to be sold as slaves. Penric presents himself as a scribe in service to the the Bastard's order, and the girls as his nieces, and says the Order will ransom them. The last thing he wants the pirates to know is that he's a Temple Sorcerer, because that will make him clearly too much trouble. Of course, this clever plan and the next couple of plans don't work out as smoothly as he hoped.
We continue to learn more about Penric, Desdemona, and Desdemona's previous riders, along with the world of the Five Gods. Lencia and Seuka are about ten and eight, but also smart and, when pushed, resourceful and tough. They also prove to have a more interesting backstory than Penric initially realized. Penric and the girls encounter both good people and bad on the pirates' island; before the two powers that normally take turns seizing control of it both got busy with other problems at the same time, it was a fairly normal community. Those people are mostly still there, making money providing all the same goods and services they've always produced to the pirates. One of the complications Penric encounters is that even the good people, though, don't want to anger the Pirates' Guild.

Then there's the complication that it is an island. No matter how good at stealth Penric is, there's no way they can walk away, and sailors consider sorcerers to be bad luck to have on board, a concern that certainly can't be dispelled by the fact that Penric's ship was captured by pirates.

It's another really enjoyable novella set in the world of the Five Gods. Highly recommended.

I bought this book.

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