Penric is back. Last year he appeared in a Hugo-nominated work that explained how he hooked up with his demon, Desdemona, who possesses him and enables him to do magic. This time Penric is playing detective with regard to a deceased shaman, teasing out the worldbuilding and magic system as he goes. It all takes place in a congenial civilized fantasy world with all kinds of rules regarding religion, and education, and etiquette – and we’re going to learn about them, oh yes we are.
This is the kind of story all those “how to write stories” articles are talking about. Clear, articulate, has a plot, the author devoted some brain cells towards making it contiguous, I could see how some people might love it. I thought it was enjoyable enough but it didn’t really stick. The characters seemed similar, the magic is a little convoluted and Penric’s amiable demonic possession creeps me out a little. I liked it, but I didn’t love it.