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Penric's Demon

(Penric and Desdemona (Publication order) #1)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  7,473 ratings  ·  772 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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Nirkatze Chronologically, Penric's Demon takes place 100 years or so after the events in The Hallowed Hunt. Furthermore, the "Demon" has been part of a sorcere…moreChronologically, Penric's Demon takes place 100 years or so after the events in The Hallowed Hunt. Furthermore, the "Demon" has been part of a sorceress-physician partnership which was first pioneered by a character in Hallowed Hunt, so it's a nice connection to have. Also, I found Hallowed Hunt to be a good introduction to the world itself. The other Penric tales follow in order, and the Chalion two take place long after. The Penric books can certainly stand alone without reading the Chalion books at all, however. Starting with Penric's Demon then would be the place to start.(less)
Stella I would say the main characters are celibate but not asexual. There are two things to note about it this book:

They both express sexuality -- Penric is…more
I would say the main characters are celibate but not asexual. There are two things to note about it this book:

They both express sexuality -- Penric is attracted to women and the Demon (Desdemona) is attracted to men throughout this story.

However neither of them take action on sexual impulses, and other people deliberately avoid physical contact in this story; so if the goal is to avoid sexual storylines, this one is safe.

Overall from their dialogue, I got the impression that the probability for some bisexual discovery/experimenting in the future is not zero. BUT it may not happen on the pages and there's also some chance that they will continue in the same way as this novella, looking, commenting and feeling attraction but not touching anyone.

I can relate to why this is important sometimes, so hope that is helpful!(less)

Community Reviews

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Mar 14, 2016 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
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-shorts, fantasy
So I'm in the middle of working my way through Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series, and a 100-page novella seemed like a really good break from a 1000-page epic last night!

"Penric's Demon" is the first in a series of fantasy novellas by the amazing author Lois McMaster Bujold (she of Vorkosigan Saga fame). This one didn't knock me over - I think it's probably too short to really do that - but it's a solid beginning and a unique fantasy world.

Penric, the younger son of a rural baron's
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this! I’ve only read one other book by this author and that was part of her sci fi series. But at heart I am a fantasy fan and this was terrific. It reminds me of ‘A Skinful of Shadows’ in terms of how the demon possession works. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of these novellas.
Sherwood Smith
Jul 08, 2015 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
Althea Ann
Feb 05, 2016 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'
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Penric's Demon is the first in a series of novellas set in Lois McMaster Bujold's World of the Five Gods series. If this first outing for Penric and Desdemona, his demon, is anything to go by then this series is going to be every bit as good as the fantastic Curse of Chalion. This followed the story of young Lord Penric who contracted a demon after stopping in the road to help an injured Temple Divine. That Temple Divine was a sorcerer and after she died her demon jumped to the unwary Penric!

Novellas are always a bit tricky for me. It's hard to get invested in something so short. Given how short it is, this one took its time to get going. The first half is slow. But once it started moving, I remembered why I love this world. I'm hoping the next one will be better because half of it won't be taken up with Penric learning what it means to be a sorcerer. I like both him and his demon though. Looking forward to reading more about them. ...more
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was so much fun! Lois McMaster Bujold definitely is one of the best character writers out there. She manages to give them depth in a wonderfully humorous way that had me giggling throughout the novella.

By accident young Penric gets possessed by a rather sassy demon who consists of 10 women, a lioness and a mare and has to figure out how to go on with his life from thereon. Yes, it is as crazy as it sounds and opens the door for all kind of funny, embarrassing and interesting scenes. LMB tak
Jul 07, 2015 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
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novellas, favorites
2nd read, this time on audio: Still love Penric to bits!

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 charact
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, fantasy
This is a lovely little novella about how young Penric comes by a demon and learns to work with “her”. Plenty of strange otherworldly occurrences and even peril. A typical young man with an ancient guide makes for great entertainment.
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novellas, fantasy
Third read - still love it!
Allison Hurd
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fem-author
Okay, my friend Anna was right, I am glad I gave this a shot.

I have not been successful in enjoying LMB books so far, but this one was everything I'd been promised: funny, cute, swashbuckle-y, lots of cool magic.

No creepy age differences, no dubious consent, no horrific sado-masochism.

It's quite short, so I won't do my normal break down. It's a fun short story about a boy whose fate is changed when he meets a woman or 12, and befriends them/her.

Very similar to "Curse of Chalion" in the feel of
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This pretty much lived up to what I hoped it would be exactly: A fun fast-paced read with lots of adventure and humor and a bit of action.

Full review to come...
Peter Huebner
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really 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
Jacob Proffitt
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, audiobook
I've been putting this off for a while now because . . . I don't honestly know why. Mood or stupidity, probably. Or both. Finally, I noticed that it's part of the Audible Romance Subscription, for whatever reason (it's not a romance, not even a little) and I couldn't resist.

Anyway, it's Bujold, so you know it's going to be good. And it is. It's short but Bujold still takes the time to establish the setting, characters, and plot. For most of the story, it's pretty leisurely (though very interesti
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
Olga Godim
Sep 07, 2015 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
Robin Bonne
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Why haven’t I ever read any Lois McMaster Bujold before now? I finally understand why she is referred to as a scifi/fantasy master.

I got this out from the library on a whim, as I was feeling like escaping from the gloomy January weather into a fantasy world. This novella delivered more than I was expecting. The characters were intricate, but not overwritten. The story had all the adventure I was craving.

It is about time I investigate the rest of this author’s books.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A little gem with highly likable characters, an engaging storyline, some hilarious moments, and an "Aww..." ending. The only caveat: you have to be familiar with the World of the Five Gods to get the most out of it. ...more
Jun 08, 2016 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 dem
Julie Davis
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A quick, satisfying novella set in Bujold's universe which began with The Curse of Chalion. While the protagonist Pen was fairly predictable I did enjoy seeing through the eyes of someone who was more farmboy than lord, though Pen was a bit of both. Mostly, though, I loved Desdemona's character. The slow revelation of her personality was the best part of the book for me.

This felt less like a settled novella than the first act in a book, which is being given to us novella by novella. The story wa
Jul 30, 2016 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. ...more
3.5 rounded down because I still don't get along very well with LMB's usual audiobook narrator. Unfortunately audiobook is the only option for this series at my library, so if I continue it will have to be audio. ...more
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, a-own-it
Bujold is the author of my favorite sci-fi series, but I have found her fantasy books to be hit or miss. I did like some of the Challion books, so I thought I'd give her novellas set in the same world a try. I did enjoy this one, but as is the nature of novellas - it was too short! ...more
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“So... much... cheese.”
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Actual rating: 4.5/5

Good folks from r/fantasy recommended me Penric's Demon as a short palate cleaner between longer and more engaging books. They were right. It's excellent novella that made me realize that my fantasy classics repertoire is full of holes. If Bujold writes this way and maintains quality, I need to read more of her books.

Lord Penric's life is radically altered on his way to his betrothal. On his way to the ceremony, he offers assistance to a dying Temple Divine. As she passes awa
Kaje Harper
Jul 21, 2015 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
Jun 10, 2016 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
Beth Cato
Jun 22, 2016 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
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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

Other books in the series

Penric and Desdemona (Publication order) (10 books)
  • Penric and the Shaman (Penric and Desdemona, #2)
  • Penric’s Mission (Penric and Desdemona, #3)
  • Mira's Last Dance (Penric and Desdemona, #4)
  • Penric's Fox (Penric and Desdemona, #5)
  • The Prisoner of Limnos (Penric and Desdemona, #6)
  • The Orphans of Raspay (Penric and Desdemona, #7)
  • The Physicians of Vilnoc (Penric and Desdemona, #8)
  • Masquerade in Lodi (Penric & Desdemona, #9)
  • The Assassins of Thasalon (Penric and Desdemona, #10)

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