reading-clipart-6This novella is fantasy and published by Spectrum Literary.

Young Lord Penric is on the road to his betrothal to Preita, the daughter of a cheese merchant who will bring wealth to his brother’s house. However, Penric never makes it to the ceremony. He and his groom have an encounter on the road where a Learned of the Bastard god dies and her demon possesses Penric. His life falls apart immediately. The betrothal is off, and he is spirited away to the city of Martensbridge where the Bastard’s temple lies. It turns out the elders of the Order aren’t pleased with what’s happened, as there was a suitable vessel, well-educated and prepared for the demon. Apparently it prefers Penric. Because of this, he faces immediate dangers, not only from the elders, but also from ambitious noblemen in the city.

This is a very professional young-adult story from a well-established writer—apparently part of a series. It’s smoothly written, and the characterization, imagery, world-building and theme are well-developed. The message is similar to others I’ve recently reviewed in young-adult, that being kind to others will make you successful against adversity. However, this story stretches the bounds of reality less than some. Drawbacks: Bujold puts me off a little with a tongue-in-cheek treatment for her characters. There’s something to be said for the irony, but it suggests she doesn’t take the stories seriously. I prefer real drama. I’ll give this one 4 stars.

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