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Penric's Demon (Penric and Desdemona #1)

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  2,546 Ratings  ·  322 Reviews
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 bequea ...more
Kindle Edition, 109 pages
Published July 6th 2015
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Susie I just read Penric's Demon. You could definitely start there since it is a stand alone. I didn't even realize that it was set within the Chalion…moreI just read Penric's Demon. You could definitely start there since it is a stand alone. I didn't even realize that it was set within the Chalion series until i read reviews. I have read the other books but it's been years so I'm not sure about that. I'm under the impression that there is a new Penric story just out or out soon. That's what led me to this book.(less)

Community Reviews

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Mar 14, 2016 Brad rated it it was amazing
I can honestly say that I enjoyed this novella set in the Chalion universe more than all the other tales so far. It's a simple one about a boy landing into trouble and making good by it as well as the solid start to the rest of his life, like all coming of age stories, but this one highlights and shines the peculiar nature of the spirits and of magic in Bujold's universe.

There's no real meandering. This is a short but very beautifully executed tale that surprised tears out of my eyes by the last
Althea Ann
Feb 05, 2016 Althea Ann rated it really liked it
Good, old-fashioned fantasy that'll leave a smile on your face.

'Penric's Demon' brings us back to the world of the Chalion books, but it's a stand-alone story. While on his way to his betrothal, a young man encounters an elderly woman on the road who's been taken ill. He stops to see if he can assist, but she's just had a heart attack, and dies in his arms. Significantly, she was no average woman, but a Learned Sorceress, and upon her death, her 'demon' transfers into Penric's body. The 'demon'
Jul 07, 2015 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Deliciously fun, and I think it would probably work fine as a standalone - but reading it made me want to re-read the whole World of 5 Gods (Chalion) series all over again! (It's one of my very favorite fantasy series ever, so I've re-read all three full-length books in the series many times already...and will many times again! PALADIN OF SOULS, in particular, is one of my favorite fantasy novels ever - but they're all wonderful.) Penric is a wonderful hero - sweet, thoughtful, deeply ethical, a ...more
Sherwood Smith
Jul 08, 2015 Sherwood Smith added it
Shelves: fantasy
I've been saving this for the right time, which seemed to be today. Because I love the Chalion books as much as I love Miles and Company, I knew I would plunge happily into this world again, and this lovely novella fulfilled all expectations.

The voice is perfect for a hapless young man who has not discovered his own depths, full of humor with tender moments, tense moments, and the flash of the numinous that I so love in these particular books.

My only complaint is that it left me craving more set
Peter Huebner
Jul 14, 2015 Peter Huebner rated it liked it
I feel very ambivalent about this novella. I was jubilant to see a new book out by Ms. McMaster Bujold. She is one of my very favourite authors. As per expectation, the writing is brilliant, engaging, immersive, well edited. A shoo-in for a 5 star rating.

Unfortunately when I bought it on Amazon it was not made obvious that I was looking at a novella (not that that would've deterred me in the slightest - this author's novellas are a better read than other authors' tomes) but, in this case, when
Olga Godim
Sep 07, 2015 Olga Godim rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
After a string of DNFs, this little gem was a pleasure to read. Set in a fantasy world, it tells a story of a young naive man Penric, a nineteen-year-old lordling from an impoverished noble family, accidentally acquiring a demon.
For those unfamiliar with Bujold’s fantasy realm, a note of explanation: demons are not evil creatures. They are sentient spirits able to reside in a human body and share that body with its human owner. It’s the only way for a demon to exist in the human world, and they
Jun 08, 2016 Joseph rated it really liked it
In which I am reminded that I have read very little Bujold, and this is a deep, personal moral failing on my part.

So Penric is the younger son of a rural noble family, about to get married and shuffled off into obscurity when, by chance, he finds himself possessed by, or possessed of, a demon (that being how sorcerers work in this world; they're "ridden" by demons who can help them perform magic). In short order, he finds himself sent off to the big city where complications ensue as he & the
Jul 30, 2016 Ashley rated it really liked it
Is it boring of me that I like this the best of all the Hugo novellas so far because it's just a straight up fantasy, well done? Stylistic risks can pay off big time, but they can also go horribly wrong for a reader. This was just good. I hope she writes more about Penric and Desdemona. I'd be really interested to see where they end up.
Beth Cato
Jun 22, 2016 Beth Cato rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, novella, 2016
I read this as part of the Hugo finalist packet. I knew nothing about the novella before starting to read, and I was absolutely delighted to realize it was set in the same world as The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, two of my favorite books! That sent my expectations soaring, and the story absolutely lived up to it. This was a cozy fantasy read for me: fast paced, great and relatable characters, and very nuanced and unique portrayal of a demon. I couldn't help but smile at the end, even ...more
Nov 29, 2016 Roslyn rated it it was amazing
This is the first of three novellas set in the Five Worlds universe. Like the novels before it, it has world building, characters and writing that are just superb. I particularly enjoy the way Bujold is able to create not just a perfectly congruent religion with its own culture but to also actually portray a sense of the numinous, with a dash of humour mixed in. This is wonderful - a sheer delight. And there are two more novellas to follow - what joy!
Jun 10, 2016 Soorya rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Thoroughly charming story about a guy who’s accidentally possessed by a demon. It’s got a very amiable and cozy feel to it and reminds me quite a bit of Robin Hobb. I could read a lot more of this.

In fact my only problem is that it feels too short - I really want more. By the end I became quite fond of Penric and Desdemona and wanted to see more of the world… and then it stopped. Grr.

Curse of Chalion, here I come. (Or I would, except I’ve got a lot more Hugo reading to do). Oh and speaking of H
Jul 08, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing
Oh that was splendid. I enjoyed this story very much, and hope for more in the Future Adventures of Penric and his Demon, very much so.
Jul 23, 2015 Tina rated it really liked it
Oh, I liked this one.

It a novella set in the world of her Chalion series. In this one a young man named Pen is on his way to his wedding and, through a series of unfortunate events, finds himself possessed of a Demon.

If you are familiar with this world & its religious mythology and especially Paladin of Souls, then you immediately get the potential problem.

Demons are under the domain of the fifth God, the Bastard. If they escape from his realm into the real world, they need to possess somet
Kaje Harper
Jul 21, 2015 Kaje Harper rated it really liked it
The first two books of this series are two of my all-time favorites, from one of my very favorite authors. I'd urge any fantasy-lover who has not read The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls to do so. Paladin in particular has a middle-aged female heroine with courage, wit, strength, integrity, a difficult past and very human flaws. So rare.

This short story is set in the same universe. It's brief, fun, with moments of warmth and humor, and a little bit of adventure. Penric begins the story as
katayoun Masoodi
Dec 12, 2016 katayoun Masoodi rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ebook
Short story, very interesting characters and the good thing is that there are two more stories of pen waiting to be read, and those other two short stories are the reason for the 4 stars, cause however cute and fun pen and desdemona are, a short story that looks like a beginning for lots of adventures is not really 4 stars; but all of them together, oooh definitely 4 and i can't wait
Dec 14, 2016 Mandapanda rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 stars. There are 3 stories about Penric. All in 'novella' form. I use the commas because novella in fantasy writing is about the size of a full length novel in romance. They are fun and interesting but don't hold a candle to her big series like The Vorosigan Saga or The Sharing Knife. Like a friend of mine (Ami) says these novellas are just like yummy chips between main courses.
Amy Sturgis
Aug 19, 2015 Amy Sturgis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 21st-century, fantasy
As much as I love novel-length fiction, I've found that Lois McMaster Bujold's novellas are as satisfying as her longer works, and Penric's Demon is no exception. The story takes place within her Chalion/Five Gods universe, and while I was grateful for the background knowledge, I think it would work well as a standalone for the uninitiated.

I appreciate a great many things about Bujold's writing, but in particular the deep sense of humaneness her work represents never ceases to touch and challeng
easy, fun and entertaining after a fairly slow beginning; while it is set in the 5 world god universe in between the author's famous 3 novels there (Curse of Chalion etc - all highly recommended), you don't need to have read the novels (or remember too many details); the naive but charming main character and his newly acquired companion "Desdemona" get used with one another and have a few adventures together; good stopping point and book 2 with Penric is out now
MB (What she read)
7/9/15 1st read 5 stars:

Such a treat! Please, please, please more?!?

I very much did not want this to end. I hope it's the foundation to many more Penric and Desdemona adventures.

2/28/16 Reread. Love this. Still SO want more of Penric & Desdemona.
Aug 12, 2015 Melanti rated it really liked it
The World of the Five Gods series aren't as humorous as her Vorkosigan Saga books, but they always leave me with a big grin on my face.

4 stars only because my standards for Bujold are astronomical and this only hits the moon instead of visiting Mars.
Feb 18, 2016 Katherine rated it it was amazing
Penric's Demon is a novella set in the same universe as Bujold's fantasy novels The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls. I absolutely love those novels, and I'm pleased to say that I liked this novella every bit as much as I do those previous books. The main character is Penric, a young lord from a noble but impoverished family who is resigned to a betrothal he doesn't really want and a quit, unexciting life under the watch of his mother and older brother. On the road on the way to his betroth ...more
Aug 02, 2016 Joe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This is my first ever book by Bujold; it will not be my last.

This is a Fantasy story that has a lot of traditional Fantasy elements to it. It does not feel bogged down and made to follow some formula however. The writing is clean and modern, the characters are well thought out and feel real within the world and that world is developed really well. It is a novella so only 109 pages (the edition I read anyway) but manages to fit a full, albeit brief, story in without sacrificing anything important
Jan 29, 2016 Contrarius rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I zipped right through this yesterday.

It has most everything you'd expect from an LMB tale -- sardonic narrative voice, appealing MC stumbling through exasperating, inconvenient, and confusing circumstance, humor and warmth never too far around the corner.

Not a terribly deep tale, but a very pleasant quick read.

As for the audio version -- Grover Gardner does all of Bujold's Vorkosigan books, but this is the first time he's recorded one of her fantasies. Fortunately, he's one of my overall favori
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Jul 23, 2015 Rachel (Kalanadi) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novellas
A fantastic mini-episode in the Chalion/World of the Five Gods series. In internal chronological order, this comes before The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, but I think I enjoyed it more and understood what was going on with the demons / influence of the gods because I had read the other books first. Penric is a naive country bumpkin lord, with a good heart, and I appreciate a story that rewards the honesty and goodness of a character. Plus, SO well written!
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

It’s always a pleasure to return to Lois McMaster Bujold’s World of the Five Gods, which is also the setting of her books like The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls—two of my favorite novels of all time. There’s just so much to love about this world, not least of all the phenomenal world-building featuring some of the richest lore and history I’ve ever encountered in the fantasy genre. One thing of note is the major ro
Book Gannet
Jul 13, 2015 Book Gannet rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of Lois McMaster Bujold, it’s ridiculous how much I love her books and the Chalion/World of the Five Gods series is my absolute favourite – mostly because of those Five Gods or, rather more accurately, because of the Bastard God. So when I found out there was a new novella from that world and featuring demons and a dedicate of the Bastard Himself… well, my squee of delight could probably have been heard in space.

And the absolute best thing about all of this – LMB didn’t let me d
Caroline Abreu
Jun 24, 2015 Caroline Abreu rated it really liked it
I am a long-time LMB fan. Both the Chalion Series and the Vorkosigan Saga list high in my favorite books whenever I am asked.

This tidbit doesn't fit in the Chalion canon, per se, but it's set in the Chalion world of Five Gods; the hero is a hapless younger son of a minor Lord whose goodness and naive virtue puts him in the interesting position of receiving the legacy of a demon from its previous occupant, an elderly, experienced, and learned woman he stops to assist on the side of the road as he
Morgan Dhu
Oct 12, 2015 Morgan Dhu rated it really liked it
Lois McMaster Bujold's novella Penric's Demon is set in her World of the Five Gods, and like the three novels she has written in that secondary universe, it deals with a relatively unsuspecting person who finds themselves caught up in the doings of the Gods and and other supernatural beings.

Penric is the youngest son of a somewhat impoverished and not particularly important noble house. A naive young man without any discernible gifts or talents, he has no real future other than marriage to a lo
Aug 05, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Bujold, who writes smoothly and fluently and gives us wonderful characters. I enjoy some of her books more than others, and this was one of the others, but even Bujold not at her best is still good.

My main issues were pacing and length. There were a lot of skimmable passages of description, and, as this is a novella, it is a bit linear, and only has so much complexity. It would make a great first third of a novel; as a novella, it leaves me underfed.

Two of my favourite Bujolds,
Jul 20, 2015 Debbie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ebook, novella, 2015
I will buy and read this woman's grocery list. Everything she writes is gold.

I love the World of the Five Gods. It is my favorite fantasy series and I was very happy to see her release this novella in the world. It's not her best work but even Lois at her worst is better than many authors at their best.

Penric's Demon is, by necessity of its length, much less complicated than its predecessors. There aren't any great convoluted machinations of the gods going on here, just one guy who happened to a
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Lois McMaster Buj...: New Bujold Novella - Penric's Demon 3 23 Mar 03, 2016 09:33PM  
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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.

Her fantasy from HarperCollins includes the award-winning Chalion series and the Sharing Knife tetralogy; her science fiction from Baen Books features the perennially bestse
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Other Books in the Series

Penric and Desdemona (4 books)
  • Penric and the Shaman (Penric and Desdemona, #2)
  • Penric’s Mission (Penric and Desdemona, #3)
  • Mira's Last Dance (Penric and Desdemona, #4)

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“How hard could husbanding be? Don’t drink, don’t gamble, don’t bring hunting dogs to the table. Don’t be terrified of tooth-drawers. Don’t be stupid about money. Don’t go for a soldier. No hitting girls. He wasn’t drawn to violate any of these prohibitions. Assuming older sisters weren’t classified as girls. Maybe make that, No hitting girls first.” 3 likes
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