I would like to thank Subterranean Press, Lois McMaster Bujold, and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy of Penric and the Shaman.
Lord Penric, the protagonist, is on his way to his own wedding when he stumbles upon a halted party on the road. A geriatric woman had fallen ill, so Penric decides to lend a hand because he is a good citizen. It turns out that the geriatric woman is a Temple divine who is pledged to The Bastard (one of the five gods in the Quintarian theology). The other gods are the Mother of Summer, Father of Winter, Son of Autumn, and the Daughter of Spring. The Bastard is considered the odd god out because he is the domain of all disasters out of season. His presence is accepted as a requirement for balance, and in some religions he is believed to be a demon.
The old woman ends up being a Learned Sorceress (a rare individual who carries within them a sentient spirit with the ability to grant their hosts special powers. The sentient spirits are considered “demons” despite them being inherently evil. Sentient spirits can sometimes be hard to control and mischievous. The geriatric woman dies in Penric’s arms. Before she dies, she bequeaths her demon to Penric, which changes Lord Penric’s life forever.
Lois McMaster Bujold is a good writer! Novellas can be good or bad due to the shorter format, but Bujold does a good job. Bujold is great when it comes to world building and characterization, which made the book good. This novella offers a closer look at the lore of The World of Five Gods. I like the interplay between Penric and Desdemona (the name he decides to give his new demon). Penric is a really good protagonist who always tries to do the right thing. It’s a quick read, and I couldn’t put it down! The ending was good, making me want to read more of Lois McMaster Bujold’s work.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes Science Fiction and Fantasy!