Ahoy there me mateys! I received a copy of this fantasy omnibus eArc from the publisher in exchange for me honest musings . . .
penric’s progress (Lois McMaster Bujold)
Title: penric’s progress
Authors: Lois McMaster Bujold
Publisher: Baen Books
Publication Date: TODAY!! (hardcover / e-book)
These delightful novellas take place in the World of the Five Gods from the trilogy of that name. That said, ye do NOT have to have read the trilogy first, though I did. Book one of the trilogy, curse of the chalion, is one of the best fantasy books I have ever read. Period. I reread that book earlier this year and quickly polished off the remaining two. After finishing the trilogy I just knew I had to get me mitts on the seven novellas set in this world. And I was thrilled to find out they were all being republished in a two-book omnibus set. This review is for penric’s progress which contains the novellas penric’s demon, penric and the shaman, and penric’s fox. In addition there also be an introduction from the author that states (among other things):
“So from my point of view, the ideal reader should now put down this introduction and turn to the start of the actual story, spoiler-free. Come back later; these words will wait, and the leisurely chat that follows will make more sense in context.”
I took a break after each novella to (slightly) prolong the reading and record me thoughts. I also read the remainder of the introduction last (as suggested) and include me thoughts for that too. Minor spoilers from the blurbs be used so read at yer own peril . . .
Side note: The cover above be from the omnibus and I used the older covers below just for fun! All from Goodreads.
How glorious it be to revisit the World of the Five Gods and meet Penric. I absolutely love good-hearted, kind-natured Penric. On the way to his betrothal, Penric’s future is thrown into peril when he inadvertently becomes a host to a demon pledged to the Bastard, one of the Five Gods. Now a demon is supposed to be transferred to prepared and high-status people – not an untrained young man. So Penric has to cope with the complications of having a combination of twelve female personalities inside of him and the powers that subsequently ensue. While the plot is straight-forward enough, it be Penric’s personality and how he interactions with his demon that truly shine. I particularly loved how they meet and begin their relationship. Penric genuinely wants to do the right thing and he be intelligent even if his naivety gets in the way. The story seems simple at first glance but is richly nuanced and a delight. I adored it! I was completely engrossed in this tale and am so glad I have the next two to read immediately after.
“It indicates a deep confusion of thinking to mistake one’s own discomfort for a benefit to another.”
penric and the shaman
Well this certainly surprised me. The first surprise be the time jump of multiple years. I was slightly sad because I wanted more of how Penric and Desdemona learn to work together and their life at university. The second surprise be multiple points of view. There be three – Penric, Oswyl, and Inglis. Penric is asked to help hunt down a fugitive. Oswyl is the hunter and Inglis is the hunted (and a suspected murderer). Though the World of the Five Gods has, well, five gods, there be another type of magic as well. That of shamanism. The third book of the trilogy (publishing order), the hallowed hunt, dealt with that aspect of magic. The third surprise of the novella was how much I loved it. I quickly got used to the newer and wiser Penric. I thought it was entertaining that I had forgotten (already!) that Penric was 19 in the first novella because he felt so much younger in that one. I loved getting to see the two types of magic working side by side. But above all I continue to love the world building and the characters. Not quite enough Desdemona in this one but I loved what ye got. And the resolution was extremely satisfying and fun. Onto the next!
“For all that we trust the gods, I think we can trust them to know the difference between humor and blasphemy.”
Well dang these just get better and better. This novella is back to being in only Penric’s point of view but does once again feature Oswyl and Inglis as characters. Penric and Inglis are out to enjoy a quiet day of fishing only to be drawn into a murder investigation. The problem, besides the body of course, is the dead sorcerer’s missing demon. Where did it go? Can they track it down and solve a murder? Well aye, but I won’t spoil the fun of how it all goes down. So very fun. I did not know where this tale was going but thought the ending was perfect. I also continue to love that having demon or shaman magic does not equal an easier life. Penric is run ragged. It be a very bittersweet life. But more Desdemona in this one. Arrrr! I think this one is (barely) me favourite of the three, followed by one then two. But seriously, I love them all. The further insight into the Gods and magic be excellent.
“If you don’t understand something, you should just try to learn more, that’s all.”
I loved, loved, loved the leisurely chat! So an element of the author’s work be that her stories grow “organically” and thus are not published in the stories’ chronological order. In this edition, the author has arranged the Penric novellas chronologically for ye. She also provides an overview at the end of the book of “all my stories and how they relate to one another” with a reading order guide. Awesome. Even more awesome is that the rest of the introduction details the author’s writing process, how she names her series, how she came to write the Penric novellas, etc. Seriously ARRRR! I be very glad I listened to the author and read that information with the context I had from the novellas. Listen to her genius.
Now I read the World of Five Gods original trilogy in the publishing order as is me general preference and rule. However, I am so very glad to have the author’s reading order guide because I am certainly going to branch out to her sci-fi work given how much I have adored this fantasy world. As for the Vorkosigan Saga and best reading order, the author states that she “favor[s] internal chronological, with a few adjustments.” I will defer to her wisdom and will read them in her stated order with this book as me guide.
I certainly call this omnibus a smashing success and will be rereading these delightful novellas. I cannot wait for 5/5/2020 so I can read the next omnibus edition, penric’s travels. So excited. But in the meantime there be plenty of backlist books to read. Arrrr!
Goodreads has this to say about the omnibus:
Footloose nobleman Penric journeys from young lord to sorcerer and scholar in the Bastard’s Order—and solves mysteries along the way.
Penric’s Demon: On the way to his betrothal, young Lord Penric happens upon a riding accident and stops to help. But the victim is a Temple divine, servant to the five gods of this world. Her avowed god is The Bastard, “master of all disasters out of season.” As she lies dying, she passes her strange powers to Penric—and changes the course of his life forever.
Penric and the Shaman: Now a divine of the Bastard’s Order as well as a sorcerer and scholar, Penric must accompany a Locator of the Father’s Order assigned to capture a runaway shaman charged with the murder of his best friend.
Penric’s Fox: When Penric—sorcerer, scholar, and divine in the Bastard’s Order—travels to Easthome, the capital of the Weald, he once again finds himself embroiled in a mystery. The body of a sorceress has been found in the woods, and it is up to Penric and his friends, Shaman Inglis and Locator Oswyl, to unravel a mystery mixing magic, murder, and the strange realities of Temple demons.
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Previous Log Entries for this Author
the curse of the chalion – book 1 (Captain’s Log – Fantasy)
paladin of souls – book 2 (Captain’s Log – Fantasy)
the hallowed hunt – book 3 (Captain’s Log – Fantasy)