The Prisoner of Limnos

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

Penric is back! Still attempting to court Nikys, the widow he fell in love with in Mira’s Last Dance. Still kind and courageous and inwardly torn and immensely gifted. This time, Nikys’s mother has been taken hostage in a complicated political maneuver, and it’s up to her and Penric (and Desdemona, his inward-dwelling chaos demon, and all of Desdemona’s many previous hosts) to rescue the lady. Another superb tale set in the world of the Five Gods. 

The usual disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book, but no one bribed me to say anything about it. Although chocolates might be nice.
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A fitting end to this delightful (if slight) series of novellas featuring Penric and his many "companions." Once the romantic relationship/possibility entered the equation the books became much more enjoyable. Penric is not nearly as obnoxious as Miles Vorkosigan, Bujold's other major young male protagonist, but he's almost as brilliant in many ways. Overall, I enjoyed the story and wish the books were longer.
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With The Prisoner of Limnos, Bujold brings to a close the major story arc of the Penric and Desdemona novellas, that being the gradual romance of Penric (temple sorcerer and host of the demon Desdemona) and Nikys (widow, interesting person in her own right). The plotline is the rescue of Nikys's mother, but the beating heart is Penric's somewhat awkward courtship of Nikys.

This isn't the Penric novella to start with. While I recommend all of them, at least start with Penric's Mission followed by Mira's Last Dance to get the Penric / Nikys storyline. But, with the background and emotional story. beats of the characters already set, The Prisoner of Limnos is a wonderful novella. Bujold is a grandmaster.
Score: 8/10
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This new chapter in the novella series featuring Learned Penric, his daemon Desdmona, and the widow Nikys, is an episode in which Penric rescues Niky's mother from prison. To accomplish the brave deed, Penric and Desdemona call on the skill of Ruchia, another of Desdemon's previous hosts who was a temple divine, scholar, and spy.

Light-hearted and quick moving, this series is fun to read, although it does not really have much depth. Ms Bujold is one of my favorite authors.
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Penric gets a girlfriend

Spoiler-ific review

I got this book for free for the purpose of review.

I can strongly recommend this book to people who have read the prior five books in this series. While it does stand on it's own, I think it is made stronger by being read chronologically.

The gods are active in Chalion, seeking to right wrongs even though they have almost no impact on the world. When our hero Penric, and his brain-parasite demon friend Desdemona, learn that one of the temples of the goddess Daughter is invaded and is being used as a prison, they take it upon themselves to right this wrong and free the prisoner. Also, the prisoner is his girlfriend's mother so that's extra motivation.

Penric and Desdemona are a wonderful character combo to read. Penric's solid and respectable personality is a counterpoint to the more fun and experienced personality of Desdemona. Together they are a fascinating combo, as either one provides the necessary skills to get through their different challenges.

I had fun with the plot. The author did a good job upping the stakes and adding some fun twists and turns. The narrative style is as good as ever too.

The characters were even better. There are a number of good side-characters who are well fleshed out and have excellent dialog in addition to the returning characters of Pen, Des and Nikys.

Net total, this is a worthy addition to a compelling series. I'm looking forward to where Bujold takes Penric and Desdemona next, as well as the rest of the World of the Five Gods.
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With the latest novella set after the previous one it does spoil anything that has happened before. Penric is dragging is feet returning from his mission hoping that Nikys will change her mind about him. When word arrives that her mother has been confined to a temple on an island and Penric offers to help spring her. Things pretty much go off the rails in a good way and the overall feelings in the book are of love and family. A great read and I do hope to see more stories set in this universe.
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As with all the Penric stories, this was a thoroughly delightful read. I loved learning more about Nikys and her family, and the adventure was fun as always (and pretty stress-free, because you always know Desdemona will haul Penric out of whatever stupid situation he gets himself into). If the series ends here, I'll be sad because I want to spend more time with Pen and Des and Nikys (and Tanar and Bosha were really intriguing additions to the cast), but I'll be satisfied.
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The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMasters Bujold. A Penric and Desdemona novella. 5 stars 

First of all I love Lois McMasters Bujold.  She is terrific.  This  series of short stories- novellas are set in the world of one of my favorite books - The Curse of Chalion.  Penric who is the main character/ hero is an ordinary man on his way to his wedding and somehow get attached to a demon named Desdemona.  Des has been around a long time and Penric is her latest host.  Because of that he becomes a sorcerer, healer, scholar and a kind of priest.  I haven't read all the stories, just the earlier ones.  But I have listened to Grover Gardner's narration and they're wonderful.  This story is fast paced, filled with intrigue and peril.  There is a rescue sequence that could have come out a summer blockbuster.  Bujold injects humor and sarcasm into the plot.  Nikys the heroine reminds me of Ekaterin from the Vorkosigan books - practical and pragmatic..  I hope there will be more adventures for Penric, Desdemona and Nikys.

Thank you Netgalley and Subterranean Press for the ARC.
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I've greatly enjoyed this series, and this novella provides a nice sense of closure to Penric and Desdemona's story arc. In particular, this completes the arc started in Penric's Mission, where Penric meets Nikys and Adelis. I don't recommend starting here if you haven't read Penric's Mission and Mira's Last Dance.

In this story, Penric helps Nikys rescue her mother, who is being held as a political hostage against Adelis. Daring infiltration and extraction aside, this novella explores relationships--family, friends, and yes, romantic relationships as well. What I particularly enjoy about the romance in this is how it's not about fiery, overwhelming lust, it's two levelheaded and introspective characters carefully evaluating and negotiating their relationship. Nikys has valid concerns about how Desdemona (and all the other personalities hiding in Penric's head) would affect her relationship with Penric, and she's not thrilled the fact that he's essentially a transient foreigner, albeit an important one. Furthermore, she's still got hangups related to the question of whether she even wants to remarry. That's a lot to explore in a short novella, and Bujold does it well.

Bujold's strength in all these novellas is the way she writes compelling close relationships. Many writers choose to fracture relationships in order to create interesting plots. That is usually interesting, but it's refreshing to read stories in which those relationships are tested and strengthened in other ways.

All in all, this is a satisfying conclusion to the Penric and Desdemona saga.
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