Penric's Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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 line. Maybe I was just in the mood for something like this: for friendship and faith and devotion, and maybe it's just a testament to Bujold and her writing, but either way, this novel was a hugely satisfying tale. It makes me feel good and all warm and tingly afterward.
No previous Chalion reading required. Everything is there to understand what's going on, but the significance and the strange and wonderful history of the Bastard and his people, the weight of it, might improve upon a reader's enjoyment. Maybe. Maybe not. Hell, this one might actually be the best starting point, all things considered.
I'm going to have a very hard time picking 2016's best Hugo Novella, for between Polansky's The Builders and Penric's Demon, both are truly excellent tales even if they come from wildly different traditions and aim at wildly different ends. I'm going to have to deliberate longer on this, maybe even dither until the voting process begins. :)
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