Wyrd and Wonder is a month-long celebration of all things fantasy hosted by Lisa, Imyril, and Jorie. The list of daily prompts can be found here.

These sorts of characters are very common in fantasy (and other genres as well) because it’s easier for the reader to follow along when the main character discovers things, such as the wider world around the character, magic (and how it works) no matter if the character already knows that magic exists or not, the supernatural world (and how it works), or a group of people and their relationship. It also brings in elements of mystery.

Urban fantasy has many, many of these types of characters. They start in the “real world” and know how it works and we readers also know how it works. However, then something happens and the characters gets information about the supernatural world around her or him. As the characters get to know more about that hidden world and the people in it, so do we readers. It’s very common for the main character to be a teenager (or even younger) and so she or he is also looking for their place in the world while they find out about the supernatural world. However, sometimes the main character is an adult. For example, in Kat Richardson’s Greywalker the main character is already a private investigator.

Another example would be Marvel’s Doctor Strange movie where Strange is already a famous surgeon when his hands are injured and he must seek supernatural aid.

An extreme example of fish-out-water story is the portal fantasy where people from the “real” world travel to a fantasy world. Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures is Wonderland and Lewis’ Narnia books are the classic examples in children’s books. However, there are a few books where adults travel to a fantasy land, such as Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar tapestry and Alis S. Rasmussen’s Labyrinth Gate.

However, my current favorite fish out of water -situation comes from Lois McMaster Bujold’s novella Penric’s Demon. Penric is young man who doesn’t know much about the supernatural side of his world. (In fact, those of us who have read the Chalion books know more about it than he does. But the novella can be read very well without reading any of Bujold’s other work first.) He’s technically a nobleman but the youngest and his family is not terribly wealthy one. In fact, at the start of the story he’s about to marry a cheese merchant’s daughter who he doesn’t love but he knows that the girl would bring needed wealthy to his family.

But instead, he meets with a dying old woman and his life is changed forever when the woman’s demon jumps into Penric. In this world, demons are bodyless creatures. They start out almost animal-like but grow in intelligence when they move from one creature’s body to another. This demon, whom Penric names Desdemona and who considers herself female, has had many human hosts and so she’s very intelligent and knowledgeable. Although “she” has as many personalities as she has had hosts because each of them has left a strong impression the demon. She also serves one of the five deities of this world. When she jumped into Penric, that means the Penric, as well, must abandon his previous plans and join the religious order.

Penric is a charming protagonist; kind, generous, and studious. He wants to study but the family couldn’t afford it. Luckily for him, he’s now pretty much obligated to become a scholar. He also has lots to learn. Throughout the novellas, he forms a very interesting relationship with his demon. And of course since Desdemona is always present, she can’t help but to influence his other relationships, as well.

I very much enjoy these novellas. They focus on characters and their interaction and don’t really have much violence