Sunday, May 22, 2016

Book Review: Penric's Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold

Entering into a very large and immersive world like The World of the Five Gods on just a novella might not be the best approach but I'm making my way through the Hugo nominees for best novella and Lois McMaster Bujold's demonic possession story is on that list. I found the world easily understood enough, it appears that the five gods have a lot more interaction with the citizens of this world and pulls a lot from christian mythos. Penric is possessed by a demon very early in the book but this tale puts a twist on common possession by making the demon a more misunderstood character and granting the human it possesses the power of a sorcerer.

The story takes its time to get going though it isn't very long so the quick read pays off with an interesting ending. A majority of the middle section takes place in a library, which may come off as a bit of a slog for a more impatient and less determined reader. I found the background help and the truth of the demon story interesting enough to continue reading. From what I've read of more informed reviewers, having knowledge of the greater events in this fantasy series helps inform what is happening in this story. It is an easy book to read for less experienced read as well.

I found Penric to be an enjoyable character to follow as he experiments with his newfound power and communicating with the being that resides inside his body. For understanding the character rely heavily on the analogy of a demon as a rider and a human as the horse, which is an interesting way to think about possession, especially in this case where the demon seeks to promote the health and well-being of the human it has possessed. 

There is certainly conspiracy and political dealing that may have more repercussions in other novels and many readers seem to want more. I found the ending quite satisfying and the action entertaining. At first, I was a bit skeptical of this nomination but overall I found the story enjoyable enough and would check more of Bujold's work. It was very similar to other fantasy stories I've reader including The Wheel of Time with a young man who is unsure of his powers but learns to cope and use them to his benefit while under the threat of death.

I know that this novella appeared on the slate chosen to be nominated by a large group of voters but I don't think this particular work is representative of all they hope to bring to the genre. I'm curious about their selections in science fiction as I've read more modern sci-fi published in popular magazines and most of the fantasy I've tried out has been from decades ago because I'm still catching up in that genre. The appeal of this book seems to be the functioning religious aspect, which I found to be an interesting fantastical exploration in this fiction. I wouldn't discredit this novella and think it is worthwhile and worthy of the nomination. I look forward to comparing all of them before I vote and venture out to Kansas City for the awards!

No comments:

Post a Comment