Okay! Has everyone read the latest Penric novella by this time? Is it okay to talk about it, with perhaps one or two mild spoilers?
So – better than the last one, imo, but a basically minor novella overall.
The pluses: More fun than endlessly pouring uphill magic into a lot of plague victims and then staggering off to collapse in exhaustion. That is, considerably more fun to read than the Physicians of Vilnoc story, with a fun setting and a lot more chatter from Desdemona. I liked the saint. I liked the parenthood theme, and has anybody else noticed that LMB has hit that theme pretty hard lately? I’m thinking of Knife Children here, which, btw, you should certainly read that story if you haven’t yet. Anyway, the tendency for Bujold to hit that theme recently just struck me a bit when I read this one.
The minuses: I was sorry for the poor demon, who just could not catch a break when it came to hosts. What a sad, um, life, or whatever. I was sorry for the dolphins, too.
The rest of the minuses: So, did everyone else yell, “Come on, Pen!” at multiple moments during this story? I have seldom read any story in my life where the so-called plot twist was so screamingly obvious. Even if Penric did not realize the truth – for some reason – way in advance, what’s Desdemona’s excuse? With all her experience, you’d think she’d twig right off.
Also, without checking the page count, I also got the impression this was a short novella. That may just be the simplicity of the plot compared to some of the other Penric stories.
If I were ranking these novellas … let me see … I believe I would put them in this order, from top to bottom:
- “Penric’s Demon” — it’s hard to beat the very first one.
- “Penric’s Mission” — Nikys is such a wonderful character.
- “The Prisoner of Limnos” — Nikys continues to be wonderful. Lots to like about this novella; plenty of plot twists and great supporting characters.
- “Penric and the Shaman” — I didn’t care as much for this story the first time I read it, but it’s grown on me since.
- “The Orphans of Raspay” — good pacing, fun story, plenty of nice details, great ending.
- “Mira’s Last Dance” — this story bugs me because it seems to re-cast the various memories contained within Desdemona as more like actual personalities than generally seems consistent with the metaphysics of the world. I like lots of things about the story, though.
- “Penric’s Fox” — I like this story, but it’s always seemed forgettable to me.
- “Masquerade in Lodi” — exactly like the one above, this is a perfectly nice but minor story. Also, the “plot twist” is astoundingly obvious.
- “The Physicians of Vilnoc” — as close to boring as a Penric story can get; not nearly enough of Desdemona.
How about it? Agree/disagree about these rankings?