This is a stand-alone fantasy novella set in the world of Chalion (Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls, Hallowed Hunt). Only available to Kindle, as far as I know.

Publication year: 2015
Format: ebook

I’m a fan of Bujold so I can’t be objective about her work. However, this is a very entertaining fan-tasy novella with a young and somewhat naïve protagonist.

Penric is the younger son of a minor lord. He wants to study but the family can’t afford it. He’s studious, curious, generous, and kind. When the family finds him a marriage match with the daugh-ter of a cheese merchant, he agrees to it and while he doesn’t love his bride, he can easily imagine that he will in time. However, on the way to the betrothal party, he meets a group of people: a cou-ple of servants and an old woman clearly in distress. He offers to help the woman and receives more than he ever imagine: a demon.

In this world, demons are intelligent creatures but they don’t have bodies. Instead, they have to take over another body, animal or human. They’re also not evil but have, of course, very different experi-ences from any human which means that humans don’t necessarily understand them or their reac-tions. Also, if the host has a weak will, the demon can take over completely. Penric has no knowledge of demons or how to control them, so he has to learn it all from scratch. But he’s curious and willing to learn.

This world has five gods: the Mother, the Father, the Daughter, the Son, and the Bastard. They all have their own areas and the Bastard is “the master of all disasters out of Season”, including de-mons and the humans who have one inside, called sorcerers. They’re quite active in the world, in their own way, and they’re a central part of the cultures.

I really enjoyed this gentle tale. It’s very humane, funny, and character-focused. Penric is just look-ing for his place in the world and he’s not a violent young man, at all.

Technically, you can read this before any of the three books set in this world. None of the characters from the books appear here. However, the world is quite complex so it might be a good idea to see it explained more first.