I’ve heard a lot of good things about Bujold’s writing, but somehow had never read them. I was in the mood for a short, light fantasy so jumped on Penric’s Demon. A few weeks later I read Penric and the Shaman, so this review will encompass both.
What to Expect
A quick, charming adventure of the third son of a minor noble, when a chance encounter on the road changed his life.Set in the world of Bujold’s other fantasy novels, but at a different time and place, this is a standalone novella. Expect a gentle story, not for children but certainly not a dark epic either.
The second novella, Penric and the Shaman, is more mature. It alternates between three viewpoints, those of Penric and his companions, showing us how remarkable Penric really is. It is a story that builds up on the magic system, on the world and its gods, it is a story of hunting and being hunted, but above all its a story about redemption.
What I liked
The writing style is charming, with a rich language and well anchored in historical terms, the protagonist approachable and likeable, and the world is interesting. Even though it’s a short novella, it captures the sense of the fantasy world and makes you want to read more. The dense multi-layered construction make for fascinating and engaging reading on many levels.
What to be aware of
As mentioned, this is a very quick read with a new-adult character (although he does seem to grow up in the second novella). Don’t expect sprawling intrigues or world-crushing dangers, but more of a classic fantasy stories like those of LeGuin.
Felix was intrigued by the concept of sorcerers being possessed of demons as the source of their power, and of a world where it snows so often (at least to his Mediterranean-like sensibilities). He wasn’t sure what to make on Penric, a tad on the naive side, but recons he’ll grow up to be a very interesting and formidable sorcerer.
Highly recommended for the sheer joy of reading. Get your copy, and dive into this charming tale of a young man venturing out into the world and finding his place. I am certainly looking forward to the other Penric’s novellas, as well as the rest of Bujold’s fantasy writing.