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“Penric’s Fox” by Lois McMaster Bujold

This installment in the Penric and Desdemona series takes place before the two most recent installments. Penric is called in to consult on a murder mystery, which becomes of more personal interest to him when it’s revealed that the victim, like him, was carrying one of the Bastard’s chaos demons.

We were first introduced to shamanic magic in Penric and the Shaman, and I enjoyed getting a more extensive look at it here. The mystery was also interesting, and there was one scene with Penric’s patron, the princess-archdivine, that humanized this formerly remote figure.

Like the previous Penric novellas, this is a quick read, but Bujold packs a lot of characterization and plot into the relatively small space. And Penric’s story isn’t over yet: a new novella, The Prisoner of Limnon, is already available. It picks up where Mira’s Last Dance left off, bringing us back to Penric’s current adventures. But Penric’s Fox is an engaging detour that’s well worth reading.

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