So far in the novellas we’ve had two stories that felt like novels with parts missing and two stories (with one more to come) that made use of other stories & conventions. With Lois McMasters Bujold’s Penric and the Shaman we hit another style of novella: an episode in a set of stories. By that, I mean a story in which the world and key characters have already been established by the author elsewhere and we get a bit size chunk of story that doesn’t require the same amount of scene setting or character establishment.
Penric and the Shaman is the sequel to Penric’s Demon and are set in Bujold’s Chalion Series/World of the Five Gods. It is a well thought through but otherwise familiar fantasy setting but with a magic system based on the posession of people and spirits. In the previous novella, we met Penric a bright but young nobleman who accidently becomes possessed by an ancient (but largely benign) demon called Desdemona – who had previously been inhabiting an important priestess.
Penric and the Shaman follows a search for a man suspected of murder – the man in question being a shaman, which in this setting is a person who works with animal spirits to gain magical powers. It is a solid and entertaining fantasy tale with enough events and actions to feel like a shorter work.
I felt disappointed that Desdemona was a lesser figure in this story than the previous one but the nature of it was one where Penric had become confident and comfortable with his powers and situation.
Fun, diverting and basically an entertaining story told by a highly competent spinner of tales.