RogerBW's Blog

Knot of Shadows, Lois McMaster Bujold 24 May 2022

2021 fantasy novella in the World of the Five Gods (formerly known as Chalion). A corpse found floating in the harbour is not unusual… but this one, while clearly dead, is still moving. Penric digs into what happened, and why.

Some parts of the solution are obvious, other parts are less so, and much more than most recent Bujold this is a story of tragedy: even when the disruption to society has been rectified in the best mystery-story tradition, the dead people are still dead, and the people left behind still have to go on with their lives without them. This feels like Bujold's meditation on life, death, sin and justice, in this setting that has the best-worked fantasy religion I've met, not to mention the only series I've read that comes close to showing how fundamental religion was to mediaeval culture.

It's not a romp the way several of the other books have been; there's no triumphant climax in which things are set right; there's just, well, this is the limit of what humans can do, and we've done it, and any more than that is in the hands of the gods.

I get the impression that Bujold these days only writes another book if she feels she has something new to say. Fortunately, she has.

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Previous in series: The Assassins of Thasalon | Series: Penric and Desdemona

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