'Penric's Demon' - Book Review

Penric's Demon
by Louis McMaster Bujold
2015, novella

I will always compare anything Bujold writes to The Curse of Chalion - particularly her fantasy. The Curse of Chalion is in the running for my favourite fantasy novel ever, easily in the top three. But many fantasy fans may find my tastes dubious when I say Lord of the Rings probably wouldn't make the top ten.

This is fantasy set in the same world of Chalion, a place she's evidently quite fond of. Penric is a young man from a minor family headed to his own wedding when he stops to assist a dying woman - and for his troubles receives a demon as a passenger in his own body. This isn't quite as bad as it sounds in our world view, but neither is it simple or safe and Penric's life is upended entirely because of it.

I read this book on the recommendation of a friend - and despite having read Mira's Last Dance previously. Mira's Last Dance is the fourth Penric story, and it was well written but an uninspired sequel. This book has the charm of a new creation - yes, she's returning to a world she's written in several times before, but all the characters and the situations are new, and our main character is BECOMING - the process most likely to create a good story. In this case, a decent young man coming to terms with the multiple personality demon who rides around in his head, and the new life this brings him. It doesn't have the incredible political depth or darkness of The Curse of Chalion, but neither does it have its length. The characters are lovely to spend an afternoon with, and the story very enjoyable. Far superior to Mira's Last Dance and definitely worth reading for fans of Bujold's fantasy.