Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Assassins of Thasalon (Penric and Desdemona #10), by Lois McMaster Bujold

Spectrum Literary Agency, May 2021 

Two years after The Physicians of Vilnoc, an assassination attempt on Learned Penric's brother-in-law, General Adelis Arisaydia, fails only because Penric is right there with him, and Desdemona, his demon, is paranoid and alert. What's disturbing about this attempt is the method: a sorceress attempts to kill Arisaydia by the use of her demon-given powers. 

A Temple-trained sorcerer wouldn't do that; it would cost them both their powers and their standing as a sorcerer, because the White God would immediately take and destroy the demon. A hedge sorcerer wouldn't do it because they wouldn't have the knowledge or the training to try. Who is this assassin, and what is her motive?

There's reason to think that the motive may lie in the deteriorating political situation in Cedonia, where Arisaydia has both enemies, and people who may value him as a potential ally. When Penric sets a trap, using Arisaydia as bait, the capture of the sorceress-assassin reveals a plot that to General Arisaydia and Duke Jurgo might seem almost like normal politics, but to Penric, a Temple sorcerer of the Bastard, is both sacrilegious and horrifyingly cruel.

Arisaydia is soon off, in secret, accompanied by an emissary from Cedonia, to Cedonia, to accept the offer he's received from one side in the conflict, with, more or less, Duke Jurgo's blessing. After appealing to his Order for a Saint, Penric is also off to Cedonia, with some unexpected company, and by a faster route.

We meet old friends as well as new ones. The plot they're off to confront is dangerous, and the deteriorating situation might be further destabilized by them, given who the chief plotters appear to be. Even some of Penric's allies have good reason to have mixed loyalties.

This is the first novel-length Penric story, and we learn more about Penric, his friends and allies, sorcery, and even the theology of the world of the Five Gods. We get some wonderful new characters, too, and the life stories of the regulars continue to move forward.

An excellent addition to the series. Highly recommended.

I bought this book.

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