Monday, 4 July 2016

Review: Penric and the Shaman

Penric and the Shaman Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this novella, as I did the previous one, though in both cases I wished there was more. The plot is quite linear, without as many complications or as much protagonist agency as is often the case with Bujold's best work. Compensating somewhat, the characters are well developed; in fact, the development of the three viewpoint characters is what primarily happens in the book.

The three are also very different: a middle-aged man who is basically a policeman, a young sorcerer/divine, and a young shaman who has made a terrible mistake and doesn't see his way clear to fixing it until the other young man comes along.

Other reviewers have regretted the lesser role of Desdemona, the sorcerer's demon, in this book, and I understand why; she's amusing, especially when she's in conflict with her sorcerer. However, the first book set up that relationship, and now the second one is building on that as a given and taking the character of Penric, the sorcerer, forward.

Penric has a lot of wisdom for a young man, and it seems that part of the reason he has come to be so good-natured and accepting is his own unusual situation. He's admirable, and enjoyable to read. It's nice to see a wise, kind character in a genre where the characters are often given to stupid decisions and, sometimes, cruel and selfish ones.

I hope for some more in this series.

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