No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

2017/72: Penric's Demon -- Lois McMaster Bujold

When he glanced up at the mirror, his mouth said, “Yes, let’s get another look at you.” [loc. 331]
Penric kin Jurald, scion of a minor noble house, is on his way to his betrothal when he accidentally acquires a chaos demon.

There are a number of problems with this. Firstly, chaos demons are usually passed from Learned Divine to Learned Divine -- not from Learned Divine to clueless teenager. Secondly, this demon has had only female hosts before Pen. Thirdly, the acquisition of a chaos demon automatically makes one a sorcerer: and Pen knows nothing about sorcery. And fourthly... well, fourthly, Pen's body is home to a demon as well as to Pen himself, and nothing in his life so far has prepared him for this.

What makes all the difference -- and what makes this novella so charming -- is that Pen is a decent and compassionate young man. He grants 'his' demon a name -- Desdemona -- and attempts to get along with his unsought companion as best he can. With, it has to be said, some amusing consequences. But by the end of the novella -- after threats to both Penric and Desdemona -- it's clear that the two of them have a workable partnership.

Luckily Bujold has written more novellas in this sequence: they were the perfect post-con pick-me-up.

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