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In this novella set in the World of the Five Gods and four years after the events in Penric’s Demon, 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.

160 pages, ebook

First published June 24, 2016

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About the author

Lois McMaster Bujold

161 books37.6k followers
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 bestselling Vorkosigan Saga. Her work has been translated into over twenty languages.

A listing of her awards and nominations may be seen here:


A listing of her interviews is here:


An older fan-run site devoted to her work, The Bujold Nexus, is here:


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5 stars
2,560 (39%)
4 stars
2,694 (41%)
3 stars
1,074 (16%)
2 stars
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1 star
13 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 584 reviews
Profile Image for Elena May.
Author 6 books686 followers
July 8, 2017
A pleasant, cute fantasy story. So far I’ve read 5 of the 6 Hugo finalist novellas, and while this is the one to get the lowest rating from me so far, strangely enough, it’s also the one I’d most readily recommend. I believe it would appeal to any fantasy reader.

The world-building is impressive. The story is set in an established world, but I’ve read none of the author’s other works, not even the direct prequel. Yet, I was never lost. I admit I sometimes wondered how long-time readers would feel about it and if much of the world-building would feel redundant, but for me it was perfect.

Our protagonist is Penric –a young sorcerer, with a wise, fun, and learnt ancient demon, Desdemona, living inside him. He gets recruited to participate in the capture of a murder suspect (who also stole a ghost!) and we are swept in a tale of magic, shamans, five gods, wonders, and Great Beasts. And when I say Great Beasts, I mean this:

“Penric studied the dog, Blood, as it cantered along behind the acolyte’s horse. It wasn’t undog, or not-dog, or even, really, terribly uncanny. It was just… more-dog, a peculiar density of itself.”

There isn’t much of a conflict – the sorcerer, the investigator who recruits him, and the murdered they are chasing, are all good and nice people. And that’s refreshing after this trend of thinking that darker and grittier means deeper and better. The story felt familiar and comforting. Predictable, but in a good way.

You’re probably confused by my 3-star ratings as I don’t have anything bad to say. Indeed, if you’ve read my other reviews, you know I’m very likely to give a book 5 stars and then spend 80% of the review criticizing some element. Still, if a book impresses me, I might give it 5 stars in spite of the problems. That’s not the case here, and, honestly, I’m not sure why. Something was missing. Whenever I try to describe the book to myself, I come up with “pleasant,” but it’s not memorable in any way. Perhaps the characters are underdeveloped. I felt Penric’s interactions with Desdemona were supposed to be the heart of the story, but we never see much of them. As it is, the story is sweet and fun, but I’m somehow missing the heart and soul.

But don’t let my 3 stars discourage you! I really think the book is a fun read for every fantasy fan, and, if you read the prequel, you’ll probably enjoy it even more.
Profile Image for carol..
1,516 reviews7,715 followers
November 24, 2021
An improvement on the first book, Penric and the Demon, the shaman's story picks up four years later. Penric has finished school and is working for the Princess-Archdivine.  There's been a murder, and Penric and Desmonda have been sent to aid the Locater Oswyl  to find the chief suspect, Inglis the shaman. Penric is very interested in learning more about shamanic magic while Inglis is struggling with his own metaphorical demons. 

I had fully expected this book was going to be Penric at the magic academy, so was surprised to pick up the story four years in advance of the first book. Once I accepted the new and more decisive Penric as part of the new status quo, it was easier to enjoy the story.

The shaman's story has a dual plot line, shifting between focus on the shaman and on Oswyl and Penric's search.  Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of context for the shamanic story, picking up in media res of him on the run. This might be Bujold's way of maintaining suspense as to whether or not Inglis is the murderer. At any rate, eventually it all becomes clear. 

The style reminds me very much of Mercedes Lackey's By the Sword and early Valdemar series. There's very much a set of core values operating here; everyone is sincere, honest and courageous. It's refreshing, honestly, when there are so many anti-heroes and moral dilemmas. It goes down quickly and easily, a pleasant little diversion. On to the next.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,910 followers
February 9, 2017
This novella continues the exploration of the Chalion realm, but rather than focusing on what it means to be a Divine or a Sorcerer, we're given insight in what it means to be a Shaman.

It's very interesting in conjunction with everything we learn in the The Hallowed Hunt.

Wolf man, indeed!

Actually, even though I was hoping for more of Desdemona, the 12 personality demon lodged within Penric's head, I wasn't too disappointed just to have her causing him a bit of trouble instead of nearly taking over the tale (and my interest) as had happened in Penric's Demon.

Instead, we've got a Penric who has gotten comfortable and educated and not desiring any sort of adventure, so yeah, of course we've got to have him sent on a mission to find a murderer and a soul-stealer. We've got to break him out of his rut! :)

The adventure is both fun and rather desperate at the same time because we get three PoV's. Penric of course, the Shaman, and the hunter. It makes for a very rounded tale and an very interesting look into what might be one of the most fascinating features of this series: the magic.

The gods are always interesting, too, but this novella really focuses on the magic of both sides of the coin, and I really enjoyed it.

I'm looking forward to more!

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 156 books37.5k followers
July 3, 2016
A while back someone was asking what books do religion well in SF and F. I thought about it, and only came up with one or two examples.

Most don't deal with it at all, or if they do, it's comic-level Evil Priests in Red who seem to have nothing to do but gallop about menacing questing heroes. The sophistication and subtly, intelligently developed dilemmas of the likes of James Blish and "A Case of Conscience" don't seem to be done anymore.

Except here. In this next short novel following young Penric, who accidentally found himself invested with a very old and complex demon he calls Desdemona, Lois McMaster Bujold returns to her wonderfully complex world called the World of Five Gods, first introduced in The Curse of Chalion.

Differing religious traditions are dedicated to five gods. Penric is a divine and a sorcerer dedicated to the Bastard, the most interesting of the gods; he'd busy translating, balancing destructive forces with creating order, when a stern Locator shows up, on the trail of a murderer who left ghosts in a small town.

Bujold deftly develops the characters as well as the mystery as they travel to distant vales, where hedge magic is practiced by the country folk. It's frowned on but tolerated when it does no harm, only this time a great deal of harm seems to have happened, as Spirit Beasts run around, a young man staggers on a hillside with a very nasty knife that demands being bathed in blood each day, and Penric has to figure out what happened before any more harm is done.

Magic and religion are explored along with character before the mystery is solved. I'm hoping this will develop into a series. I love the humor in the narrative voice, and the ineffable irruptions of wonder that Bujold is so good at. Such a satisfying tale.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
May 23, 2021
3.5 stars. These Penric fantasy novellas are by the wonderfully talented Lois McMaster Bujold (I highly recommend her Vorkosigan Saga SF series!). They've been sitting on my Kindle app for several months but I think their time has finally come. :)

Penric is the younger son of country gentry who, through a mishap in the first novella in this series, Penric's Demon, found himself unexpectedly sharing his body and mind with a 200 year old demon ... a spirit of chaos but not necessarily evil. To make matters more interesting, the demon, who Penric names Desdemona, gives Penric magical powers - making him a powerful sorceror - as well as knowledge from the ten women who previously hosted the Demon.

It's now 4 years after the events of the first book, and Penric is now a fully-fledged sorceror as well as a scholar, working for the local "Princess-Archdivine," who's kind of a efficient and stern but kind motherly figure. When a detective or "locator" shows up seeking a sorceror's help in finding a runaway shaman who apparently murdered his good friend then ran away, the Archdivine volunteers Penric. It's the beginning of a couple of unusual friendships and an interesting investigation for Penric and Desdemona.

I'm not as familiar with this Five Gods world as maybe I should be, so I got a little lost in the details of shaman magic and how it works with animals ... which is kind of important here. The novella length feels a little short, but that means I can pop them down in a single sitting. Bujold always writes well, even if I still prefer her SF to her fantasy.

Still, I have like eight more Penric novellas to go, and maybe I'll be a true believer by the end of it. :)
Profile Image for Rachel (Kalanadi).
718 reviews1,396 followers
June 15, 2020
3rd read: Yep... still good!

2nd read: Still good!

1st read: I loved this one even more than the first. Penric is adorable and good and Desdemona is the right amount of sass. And poor Oswyl has to put up with the strangeness while Penric saves some souls!
Profile Image for Gavin.
855 reviews386 followers
September 12, 2017
Penric's Shaman is the second in a series of novellas set in Lois McMaster Bujold's World of the Five Gods series. Pen and Desdemona's second outing was not quite as good as their first and the sle reason for that might be down to the fact that Desdemona played a more limited role in this one!

It was a typical Bujold story so it was still an enjoyable read. We got a bit of mystery, action, and magic as well as a nice blend of drama and humour. Bujold stories tend to have a fairly sedate pace but her writing is so good that the story never fails to be engaging.

The plot was interesting enough. This was set four years after the happenings at the first book and we follow Pen as he is assigned to accompany a Temple Locater of the Father's Order on his mission to apprehend a man who has been accused of murder. The task requires the presence of a Temple Sorcerer as the suspect is also a Wealdian Shaman!

Rating: 3.5 stars.

Audio Note: I think Grove Gardner did a decent job with the audio.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,005 reviews2,597 followers
October 1, 2016
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/09/30/...

Penric and the Shaman is another bite-sized adventure starring Lord Penric and Desdemona, though four years have passed since that fateful day the two “met” on the road. Our eponymous protagonist has become a full-fledged sorcerer and a divine of the Bastard’s Order, having earned his braids. Now working in the court of the Princess-Archdivine, Penric is content with as a temple scholar spending his days poring over books and scrolls.

However, the peace is broken one day when a Locator of the Father’s Order named Oswyl shows up, hot on the trail of a murder suspect. The wanted man is also purported to be a shaman who has stolen the soul of his slain victim, preventing the dead man’s ghost from being claimed by one of the five gods. After appealing to the Princess-Archdivine for the services of a sorcerer, Oswyl gets assigned Penric, and together with a small group of guards they travel into the mountains in search of the fugitive.

As we soon discover though, nothing is as it seems. This book is told from the points-of-view of three characters: Penric, Oswyl, and Inglis. This last perspective is from the titular shaman himself, the alleged murderer who actually turns out to be a lot more than he appears. When we first meet him early on in the story, his desperation feels different from what you would expect from a truly guilty man.

The three threads here provide a larger picture than what we got from the first novella, which mainly focused on the developing relationship between Penric and Desdemona. This does mean the demon has a smaller role, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly disappointed by her diminished presence. As usual though, Bujold’s characters are her forte, and this book is stronger because of the fascinating dynamics resulting from the increased number of POVs. Penric’s cheeriness, for example, was nicely juxtaposed by Oswyl’s dour and mirthless demeanor. Pen can’t help being the happy-go-lucky nice guy that he is, and half the fun was watching how easily he could push the Locator’s buttons.

Even more groundbreaking were the revelations presented here about shamans and sorcerers, implying strongly that Inglis’ powers may be the flip side of the same coin to Penric’s. We’re also reminded that Penric is more than just a sorcerer; he’s also a divine, and now he’s about to go up against a challenge that will take all his learned skills and abilities. As a sequel, Penric and the Shaman does a first-rate job growing our protagonist and expanding upon his unique role.

Bottom line, this series is a must-read for fans of Bujold’s fantasy, and the best part is, you can even read these two books by themselves, completely separate from the Chalion series. If you’re curious about the World of the Five Gods, this could also be a fine place to start. These charming little novellas feature everything I love about the author’s writing, and don’t underestimate their short length because these compact tales can still pack a lot of punch.
Profile Image for DivaDiane.
933 reviews84 followers
July 6, 2021
Yeah, this one was quite enjoyable as far as entertainment goes, but wasn’t as great as the first book. I enjoyed learning more about the shaman magic and the 3 MC’s were interesting and complemented one another, but it just didn’t grab me quite as much. I will still continue with the series, but I’m hoping to find the books in an audio omnibus eventually, or just get them from the library from here on out.
Profile Image for Allison.
548 reviews566 followers
September 18, 2017
I loved this second novella about Penric. It was longer than the first, and it also jumped right into the action this time. It takes place about 4 years later, when Penric has finished his training. He's sent on a mission to help apprehend a fugitive shaman.

The story gives us a peek into what's been happening with shamans since The Hallowed Hunt. I finished that book earlier this year so it was still fresh. I enjoyed the meeting of the sorcerer and the shaman, and I'm really enjoying the personalities of Penric and his demon. I'll be reading more!

Maybe we'll get another full-length novel in this world someday. *Fingers crossed.
Profile Image for Tracy.
625 reviews21 followers
February 27, 2018
This was delightful. It is always fun to visit the world of the Five Gods and Penric and Desdemona are delightful characters. The Hallowed Hunt is one of my favourite novels and I was happy to see one of Ingrey and Jiada's descendants and just as happy that the shamans and great animals of the Weald remain in play. I did miss being actually inside of Penric's head and I missed hearing more of Desdemona's voice but that is a minor issue.
Profile Image for Olga Godim.
Author 12 books70 followers
July 2, 2016
This novella is a curious blend of a murder mystery and a theological tractate. The three main characters – the murderer, the temple policeman chasing after him, and the sorcerer Penric, dispatched by his superiors to help apprehend the murderer – are all good guys. Yes, the murderer too. The entire murder seemed so steeped in mystical shamanic mumbo jumbo that the only clear fact I extracted from the story was that someone was murdered, and the murderer might have had some vague arcane motives for fleeing the scene: hence the chase.
The plot isn’t really that important. What is important is the characters and the theology of the world they live in.
Strangely, Penric, the titular character, has the least time on the page as the POV character. Mostly, the reader is either in the head of the policeman or that of our hapless murderer. Both are nice guys, really, but Penric is the most fascinating of the lot, and Bujold managed to portray him not through his POV but through his conversations with the policeman and the murderer (when he is finally caught).
Penric is a sorcerer. He carries inside his body (or soul or mind, I’m still unclear) a demon. In Bujold’s world, demons are forces of destruction, not inherently good or bad. They grant their human carriers the ability to work magic in exchange for existing in our world.
Unlike most sorcerers, Penric treats his demon like a person. He even named her Desdemona, which is unheard of among sorcerers. He knows that demons need destruction to exist, so wherever he goes, he makes Desdemona destroy pests. No cockroach or lice can survive Penric’s visits. As there is an inexhaustible supply of those, Penric is able to balance the destruction Desdemona wrecks on the blood-sucking parasites to do good stuff with his magic. His goal is to help people, and he helps the poor murderer too: with his advice, with his courage, with his trust.
I loved Penric. His presence and his interactions with Desdemona make this story worth reading. He treats his demon like a friend (actually, he treats everyone like a friend), and she reciprocates, even curbs her destructive tendencies for him. Penric’s humor and his compassion counteract the convoluted theology of the story, which otherwise threatens to suck the plot into the morass of philosophizing.
And unlike most modern literature with its faulty or tragic heroes, Penric is an all-around simple upstanding guy, kind, honorable, and tolerant of others’ flaws. Desdemona got lucky when she found him. He has no visible weaknesses (if you disregard his demon, of course), and I liked it most of all.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
Author 68 books955 followers
November 9, 2016
*4.5 stars*

When I first bought this (the day it came out), for some reason (I don't even remember why) I wasn't grabbed enough to keep reading, even though I'd loved the first novella in this series. However, I still bought the new one when it came out this week (because I really love LMB's writing in general, and this fantasy world setting in particular), and when I went back to this one (starting where I'd left off originally, about 1/3 of the way through) to give it another try, I was immediately charmed and absorbed and read straight through, enjoying the whole thing. I guess I just wasn't in the mood for it before? Or maaaaybe (I haven't re-read the opening so I can't really tell) it could have had a slow opening? Either way, I am SO glad I went back to it, and I didn't have a single niggle when I was reading it this time.

I love the compassion in this novella for all these different wonderful characters all muddling their way through and making mistakes along the way but doing their best - and then being god-touched in their different ways too. The religious system in this fictional world (the Chalion/World of the Five Gods series) is just fascinating, and the way she builds that very detailed and different kind of religion into her stories is just astonishingly well-done and something I don't really see in many other fantasy authors. (I've read lots of fantasy novels with religious systems clearly based on real-world religions, and lots of fantasy novels without any religion at all, but nothing else quite like this - and it's fascinating.)

I loved the humor, and the thoughtfulness, and the sheer charm of reading it, like hanging out with an old friend.

Most of all, I just really appreciate the kindness in these stories. I'm so glad I've already bought the third novella (Penric's Mission). I really need this kind of story right now.

Profile Image for Julie.
938 reviews241 followers
July 3, 2017
2017 Hugos nominee for Best Novella. 3.5 stars rounded up: this was actually my first time reading Bujold, and I really liked the worldbuilding, the wry voice, the fun characters, the playful dynamic between Penric and Desdemona. Rating mainly just dropped because of my struggle with novellas -- as usual they're not long enough to be a fully-developed novel, just whetting my interest in this world, but they also drag on a bit too long. Still, though, this has made me seriously interested in checking out the rest of Bujold's fantasy writing, and probably picking up The Curse of Chalion at some point.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,230 reviews1,003 followers
May 26, 2017
After reading a few rather slow-moving and occasionally laborious long novels, jetting through this novella was tangibly refreshing!

As always, Bujold's writing is a delight, and the story here is light, fun and wholly entertaining. Of course, this is a sequel to 'Penric's Demon' and although this is a wholly self-contained episode, I'd recommend starting with the first one to get to know the characters.

Here, Penric is assigned, in his position as a Divine sorcerer, to accompany a lawman who's trying to track down a dangerous murderer on the run. The lawman is skeptical due to Penric's youth, and nervous about his demon, Desdemona - who's much more full of personality than he thinks she ought to be. Can Penric prove himself - while coming up with the best possible solution regarding the crime at hand?

Many thanks to Subterranean and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. I'll be sure to seek out Penric & Desdemona's next adventure!

Profile Image for Gabi.
689 reviews117 followers
May 19, 2020
This second novella in the Penric and Desdemona series felt a bit unrefined, that is why it only gets 3.5 stars from me.

The tone is darker than in the first novel. Penric is now a sorcerer and in command of his abilities the demon gives to him. He is sent out to find a Shaman, a person who can connect with the soul and way of animals, who is accused of murder.
The introduction of the Shamans is an interesting addition to the world of the Five Gods. I loved to read about them and their abilities. Yet the plot itself was bereft of suspense. A chase could have been written with a bit more excitement imho.

Still a great expansion of this universe and something to make me looking forward to the next novella.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,478 reviews940 followers
September 20, 2021

Desdemona is bored. Her master, young Learned Penric is always with his nose into a manuscript, spending long hours pouring over or preparing for printing the memoirs of the demon’s previous owner, Learned Ruschia. And you really do not want to carry inside you a creature of chaos that is bored and is looking for some sort of entertainment.
Penric and Desdemona need a new adventure, and Lois McMaster Bujold has just thought one up. The princess-archdivine that employs Penric after sponsoring his theological studies is sending him to hunt for a renegade shaman, another young student that has fled to the mountains after a gruesome and inexplicable killing on the campus. The lady believes that Penric’s childhood experience with the rough terrain and his demonic companion make him eminently fit for the mission. Penric joins a posse led by a rough and inflexible older soldier who is only interested in the capture or killing of the fugitive, but Penric and Desdemona are more intrigued by the motives behind the incident and by the nature of this different brand of magic in the land of the Five Gods that interacts directly with nature and with the minds of animals and people alike.

“A bit of free theological advice. Do not deny the gods. And they will not deny you.”
As Oswyl stared at him, he went on, “Dangerous habit, mind you. Once you start to let Them in through that first crack, They’re worse than mice.”

Bujold is once again in top form, blending subtle humour with witty conversation and with questions of morality and personal responsibility. The powers of the shamans serve to link the Land of Five Gods with the magic from the ‘Sharing Knife’ novels, while the mythology of the five-fold pantheon is expanded upon. With each new episode we get more immersed in the lore of the Daughter of Spring, the Mother of Summer, the Father of Winter, the Son of Autumn and, finally, of the Bastard – patron of orphans and misfits, of liars and rogues, of spies and demon hunters. Penric by default lands among the followers of the Bastard once he acquires his demon, but apparently his patron saint values highly free thinking and initiative. These will serve Penric well as the chase heats up.


Once again, I blew though this second episode much too fast, carried along by the twin narrative stream from Penric and from Oswyl the shaman. The secret is in the balance between minimal exposition and intense action that bookmark the moral question at the core of the novella. Lois McMaster Bujold has refined her style over decades of high quality writing and it shows here that she doesn’t need hundreds of pages in order to make an impact.
I will of course continue with the series.
[Actually, I have already finished episode six, but I’m way behind in my reviewing.]
Profile Image for Carly.
456 reviews185 followers
February 20, 2017
In the midst of all the chaos of recent events, Penric and the Shaman was a gloriously gentle read. We jump back into Penric's life about four years after the events of Penric's Demon, after he has become comfortable with his place in the world. But when Senior Locator Oswyl asks for the support of a sorcerer in chasing down a dangerous shaman, Penric finds himself setting off on a quest led by the rather disapproving Oswyl into the rural mountains in search of a stolen ghost.

I thought Penric and the Shaman did a nice job unifying the world of The Hallowed Hunt with the rest of the Five Gods stories: we get to see the uneasy interactions between the church of the Five Gods and the nature-worshipping shaman, and the interplay between their two magics. The story itself is told from three perspectives: that of Penric, Oswyl, and also Inglis, the shaman himself. It's a bit slow-paced, and I had a hard time seeing how things could be brought to a conclusion that would fit the mood of the rest of the book, but I found myself satisfied throughout, always able to enjoy the gentle banter and measured pace. I especially loved how it explored the humanity of all the players in the story-- there are no true villains in the book, which makes it a wonderful read if you're feeling stressed and depressed. Last, I love the way this whole series respectfully explores religion. For instance, take one of my favourite quotes:
"For all that we trust the gods, I think we can trust them to know the difference between humor and blasphemy."

~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Subterranean Press, in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!~~

Cross-posted on BookLikes.
Profile Image for Melissa McShane.
Author 54 books738 followers
January 24, 2020
I love the blurb for this one, which begins "In this NOVELLA" because I'm sure a lot of people were pissed at how short it was. Because people don't always pay attention. Anyway, Bujold packs a lot into this short tale, and I was satisfied regardless of length. That's the great thing about experienced authors: they know how long a story should be, and if they're lucky, they can publish something that isn't novel-length and get it noticed.

There are shades of Miles Vorkosigan in the Penric of this story. Older and a teensy bit wiser than he was in Penric's Demon, he's called on in his capacity as sorcerer and divine to take part in a search that turns out to be more complicated than he or his companions expected. So there's a hint of Miles as Imperial Auditor, and Penric has something of Miles' approach to problems. But I never felt like Bujold was treading old ground. I particularly liked the passing of the POV between three key characters, which was effective in telling the story as well as highlighting how good Bujold is at compartmentalizing knowledge and perspective.

The ending moved me. One more spoiler:

Ready to move on to the next!
Profile Image for Liviu.
2,241 reviews627 followers
July 12, 2016
set 4 years after the events of Penric's Demon (so thankfully skipping Pentric's school days in divinity), the novella is fairly interesting but its structure did not quite work for me - it is split in 3 pov's, one from an animal spirit shaman which was very boring as I never get the fascination with animal spirits in general, another from a sort of inquisitor chasing the shaman (who is accused of murder and absconded) and who serves as a sort of external observer of Penric as the inquisitor finds himself at the court of the princess arch-divine in need of her young sorcerer (Penric as mentioned back and working full time there so to speak) to find the cold trail of the fugitive; this pov is better than the one of the shaman, but is not that fascinating either; and then Penric (and Desdemona's) pov which is again the highlight of the novella, making it worth reading for sure but I really would have loved if that were most if not all the book...

overall, still interested in the series, but the highlight is Penric (with Desdemona - the composite 12 personality demon, ten women spirits, two female animal spirits which always makes for a fun dialogue - of course) and this book has only about 1/3 that
Profile Image for Contrarius.
621 reviews90 followers
August 30, 2018
I gotta say -- if I were a writer, I'd be desperately jealous of Bujold's writing chops. She never fails to make me smile, and this one is no exception. From the opening paragraph with the stellar description of a curious vulture (seriously), to the scene where a Very Special Dog steals and eats scraps of deer hide and then promptly throws them up again in front of several characters (seriously!), she is always tons of fun. All the characters were great, and Bujold writes so efficiently that she can pack a real punch into a short novella. Highly recommended if you like her other books.

update 3/31/17 -- I just finished listening to the audio of this, and it's just as much fun -- and as touching -- as reading it. And I love Grover Gardner, who is LMB's usual narrator. His dry and sardonic delivery is a perfect match for her writing style. I highly recommend him in anything he narrates.
Profile Image for ambyr.
868 reviews78 followers
May 18, 2017
The word I keep coming back to for this series of novellas is "pleasant." There's nothing here I want to chew over after finishing it, but this is exactly the sort of book I want to read while curled up in front of a fire or on the sun-lit grass. There's some lovely bits of description, especially of the mountain valley, and I enjoyed the outsider PoV on Penric. I do feel like the main theological plot retread a lot of territory already amply covered by The Hallowed Hunt, but then, that's my favorite Five Gods novel, so I'm not exactly complaining.
Profile Image for Roslyn.
340 reviews17 followers
December 2, 2016
In this second novella in the series Penric, who continues to be an utterly charming character, is faced with a theological puzzle and a hunt for a maybe-murderer. Although I didn't find the story itself quite as engaging as the first, I was bowled over by its resolution, and the way in which Bujold (again) manages to combine lightness and humour with the seriousness and weight of characters' inner lives.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,509 reviews187 followers
August 1, 2021
3.5 stars.
I had a harder time enjoying this still very good story than I did with Penric’s first outing. I was a little lost with all the shamanic theological and practical stuff, even though some of this was covered in The Hallowed Hunt (my least favourite of the full length books set in this world).
Penric is wonderful, again, and it’s nice to see how far he and Desdemona have come in how they work together.
I did like the two dogs a lot, too.
Profile Image for OhWell.
719 reviews
September 13, 2017
A murder-mystery of sorts. Enjoyable but not to the level of Penric's Demon. The plot seems weaker and there are fewer amusing scenes. Part of the problem could be that I listened to the audio version instead of actually reading the novella.
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,219 reviews164 followers
July 6, 2021
“Certain death still held attraction. Uncertain death, less so. He hurt enough already.”

Second novella following Penric and his 200-year old ‘demon’ Desdemona. Four years have past and our young sorcerer is in a very comfortable situation, until he is sent on a mission to help a Locator find a murder suspect, who turns out to be a shaman.

Once more, I really enjoyed this tale, seeing how Penric has developed with his new life but mostly for his relationship with Desdemona. Bujold did surprise me with her focus on the shaman, which is the reverse of Penric’s, like the other side of the same coin. The narration divided between these two characters, as well as the locator Oswyl, works very well too. Can’t wait for the next one :O)
Profile Image for Bogdan.
851 reviews1 follower
August 10, 2017
Not quite what I was expecting. Quite a boring one for me. I think I will stop here. Had potential, but it's a long & tricky road to fulfill it. And , from what I've read, the writer has gone on an entirely different voyage than what I was hoping to really happen.

Profile Image for Leah Bayer.
567 reviews201 followers
April 24, 2017
The last Hugo-nominated novella! And for me, my least-favorite (though I did still give it 3 stars).

I think the most impressive thing about Penric and the Shaman is that it's a sequel novella set in an already-established world but I went in blind and was never confused. The worldbuiling is handled so well, and there is enough recap of the main elements that I felt like I understood it by the end. I do wonder if that is tedious for a long-time reader, though! Are they just sitting there like "no shit there are 5 gods, move along now."

It's an interesting world for sure, especially the religion built around its gods. I always like when books do that (i.e Gentleman Bastards). There's shamans, spirit walks, tons of animals, demons, priests, etc. But I wasn't particularly riveted by the main plotline. It's kind of a mystery--a murder mystery at first, and then a magic mystery. It becomes "how do the magic elements line up to solve this plotline?" Which I guess is a cool and unique device but... I just didn't really care about the characters. Maybe because it's a sequel and a lot of Penric & Desdemona character growth has already happened? They just felt a little flat to me.

It's certainly not a bad novella, and I think I might have rated it higher if I hadn't already read the rest of the Hugo novella nominees (which were all 5- or 4-star reads for me).
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