Series: World of the Five Gods (1.1, 1.2, 1.3) / Penric and Desdemona, (1, 2, 3)
Published by: Baen
ISBN 13: 9781982124298
Published: January 2020
Format reviewed: eVersion from Edelweiss
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Okay, so this one is slightly confusing. It collects three novellas that follow Penric, a side character from the novel series World of the Five Gods, so to make things easier I’m going to include the internal chronology and the numbers following will show their order of internal chronology:
– The Hallowed Hunt (World of the Five Gods, #3)
– Penric’s Demon (Penric and Desdemona, #1)
– Penric and the Shaman (Penric and Desdemona, #2)
– Penric’s Fox (Penric and Desdemona, #5)
– Penric’s Mission (Penric and Desdemona, #3)
– Mira’s Last Dance (Penric and Desdemona, #4)
– The Prisoner of Limnos (Penric and Desdemona, #6)
– The Orphans of Raspay (Penric and Desdemona, #7)
– The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods, #1)
– Paladin of Souls (World of the Five Gods, #2)
Penric’s Progress collects Penric’s Demon, and the Shaman, and Fox, making this an excellent entry into the world if you haven’t yet got around to reading this series. Each and all are also standalone however I always recommend reading in internal chronological order; s’just how my mind works (and I’ll never understand how anyone could ever want otherwise? Isn’t it the easiest way to devour books to read them in the order the characters would have lived their lives?)
Back to what the story actually is. Penric is a simple young man; his full title being Lord Penric of kin Jurald, barons of a small stretch of land with not much money left in the purse. The majority of his clothes are hand-me-downs, and as we start his story he is off to be married. Nervous, but glad to be getting to live his own life away from the constant comparisons to his older siblings and the fact there wasn’t enough money to send him to the university which is what he wanted to do with his life, he’s now worrying if he can make his wife-to-be happy. Which is rather sweet.
Along this short journey he comes across a small party of people halted on the main road; one woman lying on the ground having taken ill, and the various people around her being temple guardsmen and from the religious Daughter’s Order, for as the series title gives away, there are five Gods in this story; Mother, Father, Daughter, Son, and the fifth being the Bastard, who is in charge of all things chaotic and disordered.
The woman dies with Pen at her side, trying to give her comfort in her last moments, and it’s here Penric discovers just what chaos the Bastard governs. For the woman was a Temple sorceress; a very senior one, which means she housed a demon, who need a body to ride around in generation to generation. She had been travelling to give her demon on to its planned successor but when she died early, her demon went instead to the nearest suitable person… who in this case, was Penric.
Thus his betrothal is off and he is instead thrown into the life of a sorcerer with his demon (whom he calls Desdemona) who comprises of the memories of the 12 generations who carried her before Penric did. At any time Des can speak with his voice which, at the start, is a bit awkward and hilarious.
As a demon Des’s magic thrives on disorder, which at the least can be things like getting rid of all fleas and ticks in the nearby vicinity (which comes handy on their travels) and to find out what else it can aspire to, well, you’ll just have to read the books for yourself.
The first three novellas cover the early years of Penric’s life, from when he gets Des and manages to be allowed to keep her, to becoming the Princess-Archdivine’s personal sorcerer after his training is complete (which he manages to finish years early, thanks to his demon and the past generations having gone through it multiple times already), and on to travelling with friends he’s made along the way, such as the Shaman mentioned in the second novella’s title.
This is a series that’s hard to put down, fun, full of great characters and interesting heroics, and Penric and Des’s friendship as it grows is lovely to see. She thinks she may be one of the oldest demons in existence and yet still manages to be surprised by the way in which Pen treats her. The dry wit is exactly what I love to read, and the ways in which they use the magic ‘downhill’ can be really clever.
Highly recommended, as are the other four novellas in this series. I’m still yet to read the three novels that make up the other part of this world which I really hope I can get to soon.