Book Review: Penric’s Progress by Lois McMaster Bujold

Reviewed: March 21st, 2021
Release Date: January 26th, 2021

A compilation of the first three Penric stories.

Penric’s Demon

On his way to his betrothal, young Lord Penric comes upon a riding accident with an elderly lady on the ground, her maidservant and guardsmen distraught. As he approaches to help, he discovers that the lady 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”, and with her dying breath she bequeaths her mysterious powers to Penric. From that moment on, Penric’s life is irreversibly changed, and his life is in danger from those who envy or fear him. Originally published 2015.

I love the world of Chalion, in which this novel is set in. Penric is a wonderful character as is his demon whom he names Desdemona. In the first book Penric inherits his demon, one which was destined to passed to someone much older and experienced.

Penric is quite naive, which is a lovely balance against his centuries old Demon, and together they begin to learn about each other. For as long as he is allowed to keep her, though how they would remove her, Penric doesn’t know. Not that he is has a choice of course.

Although demon’s are life altering, many people desire one, and resent such a young man receiving one, no matter how many times Penric says it was accidental. Penric and Desdemona face jealousy and ambush. A sure way to help them bond quickly.

The world of Chalion is amazing and the relationship between Desdemona and Penric is wonderful and quite humorous.

Penric and the Shaman

In the second novel, we find Penric is a divine of the Bastard’s Order as well as a sorcerer and scholar, living in the palace where the Princess-Archdivine holds court. His scholarly work is interrupted when the Archdivine agrees to send Penric, in his role as sorcerer, to accompany a “Locator” of the Father’s Order, assigned to capture Inglis, a runaway shaman charged with the murder of his best friend. However, the situation they discover in the mountains is far more complex than expected. Penric’s roles as sorcerer, strategist, and counselor are all called upon before the end. Originally published 2016.

Penric has graduated as a full temple divine in record time, which is not surprising when he has a centuries old demon inside him. Not that she helped him. Desdemona took very great pleasure forcing him to take his own exams. We continue to enjoy the wonderful relationship between Penric and his demon, and for the first time see Penric as a divine in the service of his God, the Bastard.

Locator Oswyl, a grayjay, a man investigating a murder, arrives asking for assistance, and Penric is sent to help him. The journey to track down Inglis, and the obstacles Inglis experiences as he tries to escape are very clever. Gods have such a sense a humour. What they find in the mountains is not what they expected and I love Oswyl; Bujold creates such engaging characters.

Penric’s Fox

Learned Penric, sorcerer and scholar, travels to Easthome, the capital of the Weald.  There he again meets his friends Shaman Inglis and Locator Oswyl.  When the body of a sorceress is found in the woods, Oswyl draws him into another investigation; they must all work together to uncover a mystery mixing magic, murder and the strange realities of Temple demons. Originally published in 2017.

In the third novel we get to revisit Inglis and Oswyl again. It’s nice to see Penric making friends, but it doesn’t take long for Penric to be forced into another investigation. This time a sorceress has been killed and her demon has disappeared without trace. Demon’s on the loose is not a good situation and the hunt is on to find it. Another wonderful story, and it’s so nice to be back with Penric again in the wonderful world of Chalion and the Five Gods.

About the Author:

Lois McMaster Bujold was born in 1949, the daughter of an engineering professor at Ohio State University, from whom she picked up her early interest in science fiction. She now lives in Minneapolis, and has two grown children. She began writing with the aim of professional publication in 1982. She wrote three novels in three years; in October of 1985, all three sold to Baen Books, launching her career. Bujold went on to write many other books for Baen, mostly featuring her popular character Miles Naismith Vorkosigan, his family, friends, and enemies. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. Her fantasy from Eos includes the award-winning Chalion series and the Sharing Knife series.

You can purchase the book here:

Link to book on Amazon UK: Hardback | Paperback

Link to book on Amazon US: Hardback | Paperback

Link book on Amazon Canada: Hardback| Paperback

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If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my book which is available in eBook or paperback: Sentinals Awaken. My second novel Sentinals Rising is currently on pre-order and releases March 17th 2021. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next books are published.

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