Penric and the Shaman (Penric & Desdemona Book 2)
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Review by Gayle Surrette
Spectrum Literary Agency, Inc. Kindle Edition ISBN/ITEM#: B01HIQP38M
Date: 23 June 2016
I really enjoyed Penric's Demon when I read it and when I saw this new book was available, I snatched it up. Penric is as enjoyable a character as when he first appeared. Penric and the Shaman takes place four years after the last book. Penric has grown more accustomed to his demon, Desdemona, who shares his body and he's had some actual training. He's also finally able to do the work of a scholar and is translating medical texts as part of his work for the Princess-Archdivine of Martensburg when not running errands or other tasks she requires of him.
This time he's been asked to join in a hunt for a Shaman, Inglis, who has committed murder and sundered a soul, as the victim was not taken up by one of the five gods at his funeral. Locator Oswyl had been sent, but the previous Learned assigned to him felt he should travel in another direction. Still, the Locator is positive the criminal is in this area. Penric is needed, as only a Learned could handle the power of a Shaman. The Locator also needs some men to help him, and the Princess Archdivine sends them on their way.
Locator Oswyl finds that Penric is not at all what he expected, but he also learns over their journey to question some of his assumptions as Penric asks many questions that require thoughtful answers rather than rote replies. Penric remains a witty, intelligent, and very sharp observer of all that goes on around him. He also has learned to use the tools open to him including the many personalities that are part of Desdemona.
The story is one that slowly unwinds as the group seeks for the Shaman. This alternates with the Shaman Inglis' views on his thoughts, feelings, and his desire to escape. Eventually, the two threads come together and the situation is more complex and involved than any of the parties expected. These gods don't necessarily play dice with the universe, instead they play chess with lives.
I'm really looking forward to more adventures with Penric and Desdemona.