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

Friday, August 11, 2017

2017/74: Penric's Fox -- Lois McMaster Bujold

Did demons mourn? Oh, yes, breathed Des. It is not something we come into the world knowing, as elementals. But we learn. Oh, how we learn. [loc. 1662]
This novella begins some eight months after the events of Penric and the Shaman: Penric has become friends with Inglis, and is visiting him -- and trying to learn shamanic magic -- when both are sought out by Senior Locator Oswyl. A local sorceress has been murdered, and he needs to find the murderer. Penric, though, is more interested in the fate of the dead sorceress' demon ...

Bujold explores the system of shamanic magic, which also features in The Hallowed Hunt (a novel I confess I didn't get along with) throughout this novella. Penric's fascination -- he's still ravenous for knowledge -- is infectious, and I think Inglis' explanations are rather clearer than in the earlier work.

But what I found most interesting was the depiction of demon-host relationship(s) from the outside: not Penric and Desdemona (who would be the first to admit that they're not an exemplar of the phenomenon), but the murdered Learned Magal and her demon -- and that demon and their new host. We've previously only seen Desdemona as Penric sees her (as she allows herself to be seen), but the fate of Magal's demon makes her unusually forthcoming.

It was actually the publication of this novella -- and a friend's anticipatory delight -- that prompted me to start reading the 'Penric and Desdemona' series. Thanks, V!

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