RogerBW's Blog

Mira's Last Dance, Lois McMaster Bujold 02 September 2018

2016 fantasy novella in the World of the Five Gods (formerly known as Chalion). This one follows directly from Penric's Mission; the demon-ridden sorcerer tries to get a discredited general and his widowed sister to the safety of a foreign court. But Penric is injured, and the minimal funds they had for their escape have run out.

This volume is largely Penric's, and falls perhaps too conveniently into three parts: struggling across country, an incident in a town, and the end of the journey. That incident has the trio hiding out in a brothel, and for perfectly good plot reasons Penric disguises himself as a (female) courtesan, using the demon's memories of her former host Mira (who was a courtesan) to carry off the impression. Which is all very well until someone important falls for the imageā€¦

There's some farce here, but the characters keep their dignity and are handled with sympathy; that's a fine touch, and shows real skill on Bujold's part. Nikys, on the other hand, has become strangely passive; in Penric's Mission she had ideas and goals and skills of her own, a forceful personality that could match Penric's and made the potential romance plausible, but here she's much flatter and without apparent motivation. One might regard this as the delayed effects of extreme stress, but it feels unjustified by events.

There's not a great deal of magic, and (apart from Mira) little interaction with Desdemona. The ending, while it feels more like the end of a book than Mission's, is still somewhat rushed and unclear, and evidently there's more to come.

This is still a good story and I enjoyed it, but it's weaker than the previous volumes. Followed by The Prisoner of Limnos.

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Previous in series: Penric's Mission | Series: Penric and Desdemona | Next in series: The Prisoner of Limnos

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