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Wednesday, January 31st, 2024

The Hallowed Hunt

Categories: [ Books/World of the 5 Gods ]

ISBN: 9780060574741

© Amazon.fr

Ingrey is sent from Easthome, capital city of the Weald, to investigate the death of Boleso, one of the two sons of the dying Hallow King. He quickly comes to believe Ijada's version, the woman who killed him in self defence: Boleso was attempting to use her as a human sacrifice that would allow him to acquire the soul of a leopard, an almost forgotten practice from the Old Weald from before the country was conquered by the Darthacans four centuries earlier that allowed to make shamans. Ijada is the unintended recipient of the animal's soul; Ingrey also has the soul of a wolf that had been forced on him by his father as a boy and, because he was not prepared, drove him mad for several years. On the way escorting Boleso's body and Ijada back to Easthome, Ingrey loses control of his wolf several time. Thanks to the unexpected arrival during a stop of Hallana, a sorceress and friend of Ijada, Ingrey understands that someone had cursed him so as to force him to murder Ijada. Ingrey and Ijada also fall in love during the journey. Later in Easthome, Ingrey has a mystic experience during Boleso's funeral, where he meets the Son; the god asks him to clean Boleso of all the animal souls he has accumulated so that he can receive the man's soul. Ingrey is then invited by his cousin Wencel who tells him that he is the real Hallow King, as he hosts the accumulated souls of all the descendants of the Hallow King who was killed with his army four centuries ago in Bloodfield, a patch of cursed forest that now belongs to Ijada. Those souls actually control Wencel's body and the cousin Ingrey knew as a child does not really exist anymore. The old king's curse was such that the souls of the dead soldiers are prisoner of Bloodfield. Moreover, Ingrey is next of kin to Wencel and will inherit and be taken over by the accumulated souls of the kings if he survives his cousin. As they attend the death of the Hallow King, Wencel captures the kingship of the Weald and becomes truly the new Hallow King, unbeknownst to all but Ingrey. Using shamanic powers, Wencel forces his wife Fara and Ingrey to accompany him on a journey to Bloodfield. Ingrey confronts Wencel whose body dies, making Ingrey responsible for letting the dead souls of four thousand soldiers rejoin their gods. Thankfully, Ijada, Hallana and a few friends arrive just in time to play the roles of conduits to the gods while Ingrey cleanses the souls of the soldiers from their animal souls. Ingrey also marries Ijada on the spot after the Old Weald fashion. Ingrey then somehow relinquishes his role of Hallow King and lets the son of the previous king take over. He also marries Ijada in a more usual ceremony.

[ Posted on January 31st, 2024 at 19:20 | no comment | ]

Sunday, December 24th, 2023

Penric's Labors

Categories: [ Books/World of the 5 Gods ]

Masquerade in Lodi

ISBN: 9781982193034

© Amazon.fr

In Lodi on the eve of the Bastard's Day, Penric is asked to check if a madman who had just been saved from the sea by fishermen. The man is confused because he got a demon from a dying dolphin. Soon after Penric makes his diagnostic, the man flees the hospital and hides in the city. Penric seeks the help from Chio, the local saint, a young woman living in an orphanage, the only kind of person who can free the man from its demon. They manage to identify the man as Ree, the son of a local merchant who was at sea with his cousin Merin. They eventually find Ree hiding in a warehouse, fighting Merin who is trying to kill him. After Penric has immobilized the two men and Chio has returned the demon to its god, Ree reveals that Merin had thrown him overboard because he suspected him of stealing.

The Orphans of Raspay

On his way back home to Orbas, Penric's ship is boarded by pirates and he is taken prisoner. He befriends two orphan children who also are prisoner. On the island of Lantihera, controlled by pirates and slavers, Penric manages to keep the two children safe, and takes them with him when he escapes. He first rescues the sailors from his ship form the jail where they were waiting to be sold as slaves, but afraid of the sorcerer, they flee the island without him. Penric then wreaks havoc in the harbour, sinking ships and burning buildings, but with little chance of finding a ship on which to flee. He and the two children are then saved in the nick of time by his brother-in-law Adelis who was sent with a fleet to put a stop to the pirates' activities. Penric then goes back home with the children and places them as apprentices in a house of his order.

The Physicians of Vilnoc

Adelis asks Penric to investigate a mysterious disease that is killing a lot of his soldiers. Penric can use his magic to help the sick get step-by-step better, but the situation becomes desperate as the number of sick people increases and the mode of contagion cannot be determined (a wild experiment conducted by the only remaining army physician on himself proves it's not transmitted by the fleas on the rats). Penric also sends letters asking neighbouring cities to send sorcerers, but they remain unanswered. From a nearby camp of Rusylli prisoners he learns the name of the disease to be the blue witch. The arrival of Dubro, a inexperienced b fast-learning sorcerer, provides help, but as Adelis comes back from an expedition the number of sick soldiers increases again. During a desperate prayer to the Bastard, Penric is bitten by a blue fly. He also discovers that the army parks just outside the garrison sick and dying horses that suffer from the same disease. He then understand that all horses must be screened and the sick ones must be killed and burnt. This action and the sorcerers killing as many flies as they can allows to stop the epidemic and for Penric to go back home.

[ Posted on December 24th, 2023 at 19:08 | no comment | ]

Tuesday, December 12th, 2023

Penric's Travels

Categories: [ Books/World of the 5 Gods ]

Penric's Mission

Penric is on a diplomatic mission to Patos to contact General Adelis Arisaydia who seems to want to defect to Adria. Upon arrival he is arrested as a spy and left to drown in an underground cell. After escaping, he discovers that the general has been blinded on orders of the emperor of Patos who fears he would try and seize power for himself. The Arisaydia is under the care of his sister Nikys and Penric, feeling guilty of having provided the emperor with an excuse to attack his rival, presents himself to Nikys as a physician and over the course of a week manages to repair his eyes, secretly using sorcery. When the emperor's men come to ensure Arisaydia has indeed become harmless they find out he can actually see and attack him. Penric neutralizes them and takes the general and is sister with him away from the city. Penric wants to take them to Adria, but the general believes that Orbas is easier and safer. They flee for a couple of days, until the emperor's men catch up with them, accompanied by another sorcerer. Penric fights him and wins, killing or chasing away the rest of the soldiers.

Mira's Last Dance

Penric, Arisaydia and Nikys are still fleeing from Patos and find refuge at a bordello in Sosie. In exchange for food and shelter, Penric rids the place and the customers of the lice and other parasites and even treats the owner's breast cancer. Easily recognizable, Penric decides to disguise himself as Mira, the fifth rider of his demon and a rich and independent woman, eccentric enough to be accompanied by two masked servants, Adelis and Nikys. To test his Mira persona, Penric mingles among the customers and catches the eye of General Chadro who insists on spending the night with Mira. Mira's personality convinces Penric that Chadro could provide the money they need to continue their travels towards Orbas, so she takes over, promising Penric he would not even need to take his clothes off. Nikys, who has started to get attracted to Penric notices that if she marries him she would also marry Desdemona and all the past personalities, which puts her off. The purse however let them rent a carriage with horses. When they almost reach the border, they are caught up by a group of soldiers, but instead of being arrested, it is Chadro who attempts one last time to convince Mira to marry him. In Orbas, they are welcomed by the duke who hires all three of them. Some weeks later, as Adelis already left to fight for the duke, Penric proposes to Nikys but she refuses as she does not want to have to share Penric with all the other personalities.

The Prisoner of Limnos

In Orbas, Nikys receives a coded message from Lady Tanar, the woman in Thasalon Adelis was meant to marry before falling into disgrace. The message informs her that her mother was taken prisoner and sent to the island of Limnos, in a retreat of the Daughter's Order from which she cannot leave. Nikys asks Penric to accompany her to Limnos and free her mother. They first visit Tanar in secret, who welcomes them and agrees to help them. As only women are allowed in the retreat, Tanar and Nikys disguise Penric into a woman. The plan is to find Nikys' mother and exchange her with Penric. The latter will give them the night to escape as far as possible from Limnos before himself escaping, somehow and rejoining them in Akylaxio. They are accompanied by Bosha, Tanar's faithful servant since her childhood. The retreat is an impregnable fortress at the top of a cliff a thousand feet tall. The plan goes well, but in the middle of the night Penric is woken up by a man who entered through the window: Nikys' half-brother Ikos who is a bridge builder and who had also planned to save his mother. Penric and Ikos escape using the latter's rope-and-pulleys contraption. The manage to leave the island on a ship belonging to friends of Ikos' and meet with Nikys and her mother who also managed to reach Akylaxio. As they go through customs, an imperial courier arrives with probably a description of the fugitive. Using his powers, Penric puts a geas on him, making him forget his mission. They then embark on a ship for Orbas. During the trip, Nikys discusses with Desdemona, comes to terms with Penric hosting multiple personalities.

[ Posted on December 12th, 2023 at 15:07 | no comment | ]

Friday, November 24th, 2023

Penric's Progress

Categories: [ Books/World of the 5 Gods ]

Penric's Demon

Penric is the youngest son of a minor noble in the Weald. One the morning of his arranged wedding, he crosses path with an old woman just as she dies of a heart attack. The woman is a sorceress hosting a demon and the latter jumps to Penric. As demons are normally given only to people who have been prepared for many years to receive one and dominate it, Penric is considered as potentially dangerous. The wedding is cancelled and Penric is taken by the local religious authority to the house of the Bastard's Order in Martensbridge where the scholars should know what to do. On the way there, Penric discovers little by little that the demon can talk through his mouth and decides to name it Desdemona. Desdemona is 200 years old and contains the knowledge of the twelve women who have previously hosted her. Over time, her knowledge of different languages percolate into Penric's mind, allowing him to read many books in the library of the Bastard's Order's house. Desdemona also teaches Penric rudiments of sorcery like killing fleas or lighting a candle at a distance. In Martensbridge, Penric bunks with the younger brother of the local lord. One evening, the latter invites him to dinner in his castle. The two brothers want to kill Penric in order to force Desdemona to jump to one of them, but the demon detects the drugged wine and gives Penric enough extra power so that he can fight them, escape and walk back to the house. He is then presented to a Saint who has the power to extract demons, but the Saint declares that his god does not want the demon. He apparently has plans for Penric.

Penric and the Shaman

Working for the princess-archdivine of Martensbridge, Penric is associated to Locator Oswyl, an investigator of the Father's Order in Easthome. Their task is to find Inglis, a shaman suspected of having murdered his teacher, Tollin and who recently fled from the city. After a chase through the countryside, they arrive in a mountain region where they learn about shamanism, which consists in “breeding” the soul of an animal through the lives of many animals in order to produce a Great Beast whose soul can be received by a human, becoming a shaman. Penric and Oswyl learn that a recent landslide has killed Scuolla, the local shaman, and that they urgently need to find another shaman to help Scuolla's soul moving forward and prevent it from becoming a ghost. They finally find Inglis, but the latter has lost his shamanic abilities due to what he has done. Oswyl also explains that Tollin had an accident during training and was dying, so Oswyl used the knife to anchor his soul until it can be given to a new shaman. Penric spends some time restoring Oswyl's confidence. Eventually the shaman is able to perform the rites on Scuolla's soul. Some time after being back in Martensbridge, Penric receives a letter from Inglis explaining that he was not found guilty of murder and only put on probation and fined.

Penric's Fox

Penric accompanies the princess-archdivine on a journey to Easthome. There he spends some time with Inglis. One day, Oswyl asks Inglis and Penric to help him investigate the murder of a sorceress and if possible recover her demon. The demon seems to have jumped to a passing fox. The investigation leads them to Wegae kin Pikepool, the local baron, more of a bookworm than a warrior, and who has inherited the estate after his uncle escaped trial for having murdered his wife. With the help of local shamans they manage to detect the missing demons and find the fox (actually a female with cubs). They also discover that Baron Wegae's gardener has been trapping foxes without killing them, and that a mysterious man seems to hide nearby. The man happens to be Wegaes's uncle who has come back to take revenge on the demon, whom he blames for having told the authorities, throuhg the sorceress who hosted it, that he killed his wife. The culprit is finally brought to justice, the vixen and her cubs are taken in the shamans' menagerie until the cubs can become independent and the demon can be extracted from the fox by a Saint of the Bastard. Penric negotiates with his employer a year of leave so that he can study with the shamans before being sent elsewhere to study medicine.

[ Posted on November 24th, 2023 at 18:32 | no comment | ]

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Paladin of Souls

Categories: [ Books/World of the 5 Gods ]

Sequel to Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold, published in 2003.

Ista, the mother of the royina of Chalion-Ibra, can't stand her too quiet life in her castle. She decides to start a pilgrimage and get away from the place. During the journey, she has strange dreams about a man lying on a bed with a stream of light coming out of his chest and leaving through the door. On the way Ista and her party are attacked by Jokonan soldiers who take her prisoner for ransom. She is saved by a mysterious knight, Arhys, lord of the nearby castle of Porifors. Ista quickly notices that Arhys never eats and never sleeps at night. At the same time, Arhys' half brother Ilvin is near death, and has been so for the last three months, only waking up briefly, on some days. In a dream, the Bastard, god of demons gives her again the gift of second sight she had in the previous story. Ista then discovers that Arhys is actually dead, killed three months earlier by a Jokonan princess who stayed at the castle on a diplomatic mission. The princess was inhabited by a demon, and when she was killed the demon went into Arhys' wife, Cattilara, who was the closest person. Cattilara's will was strong enough to force the demon to keep Arhys' soul bound to his body, giving the illusion of life, while draining the life from his half brother. Ista manages to get Arhys to talk to Ilvin (Cattilara was preventing this to happen) and Arhys agrees he has to die for good. But Ista notices that Arhys' soul cannot be taken by a god, condemning him to damnation. Soon after, the Jokonans attack the castle, helped by Queen Joen who appears to be a powerful sorceress, and controlling eighteen other sorcerers. She demands Ista to be brought to her, as a first step to conquer Chalion and Ibra. Her sorcerers make the siege of the castle impossible to resist. During the night, Ista is visted again by the Father of Winter who gives her the power to link her soul to Arhys and thus allow him to be taken by his god when dying for good. Additionaly, the Bastard gives her the power to eat demons and return them to hell. Arhys, immune to demons' magic, leaves the castle at night in order to kill as many sorceres as possible and die gloriously, while Cattilara and Ilvin give him their life energy and absorb his wounds. After that, Ista and Ilvin go and surrender to the Jokonans. When taken to Joen, Ista absorbs her demon and the ones of her other sorceres. The Jokonans are then swept away.

[ Posted on February 1st, 2009 at 23:25 | no comment | ]

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

The Curse of Chalion

Categories: [ Books/World of the 5 Gods ]

Cazaril comes back to Chalion after over one and a half years at the galley, where he had been sent after loosing a siege, because his name was (purposely) not on the list of the officers who would be ransomed. Without land or money, he's hired as secretary and tutor of the royesse Iselle, sister of the current roya, Orico. Soon after, Iselle is sent with her brother Teidez and her friend Betriz to the court. The king is sick and without a heir, and Teidez is next in line for succession. The Jironal brothers, Dondo and Martou (who is also the Chancellor and actual leader of the country, and the man because of whom Cazaril was sent to the galley) scheme to get closer to the power: Martou convinces the king to let Dondo wed Iselle, while Dondo tries his best to pervert young Teidez and make him his creature. Iselle and Cazaril try to find a way to prevent the wedding to happen. While Iselle prays the Lady of Spring, Cazaril prays the Bastard to send his demon and kill Dondo (well aware that this is illegal and going to cost him his life, the demon taking both the killer's and the victim's soul). Dondo dies, but Cazaril survives the operation, thanks to the Lady who traps both the demon and Dondo's soul in a tumor in Cazaril's abdomen. Soon after, Teidez kills all the sacred animals in Orico's menagerie, under the influence of the late Dondo who led him to believe that they were poisoning Orico's soul, when it was actually preventing him from dying. Being touched by the gods, Cazaril becomes a saint, and is given the power to see some people's auras. The royal family has a dark aura (including Iselle, her brothers, her mother), a curse dating from Orico's grandfather who had used dark magic to kill his enemy. Cazaril learns from Orico's wife that the Lady told her in a vision that if a man would lay down his life three times for Chalion the curse would be lifted. Cazaril also reasons that if Iselle gets married, she would get free of the curse. Orico's will states that Martou will become regent of Chalion after his death. The only politically worth candidate for Iselle would be Bergon, the heir of Ibra, and she sends Cazaril to negotiate a wedding agreement with his father, the Fox of Ibra. When Cazaril meets Bergon, the latter recognizes him as the man who helped him on the galley, where he had also been sent by his jealous elder brother (now dead in the civil war). Cazaril realizes that he has been controlled by the gods from a long time already. The negotiations go smoothly, and Cazaril and Bergon go back to Chalion, where Iselle and him get married. But this is not enough to get the curse lifted. Soon after, Martou's troops try to arrest Iselle on the pretense of rebellion, but when Martou tries to kill Cazaril, the demon escapes and takes Martou's soul, while Cazaril is resuscitated by the Lady. The curse is lifted, since Cazaril has laid down his life three times already (once at the galley to save Bergon, once when killing Dondo and just now). Iselle and Bergon become roya and royina of Chalion-Ibra, since Orico officially died just after the wedding (unofficially one day before, but his wife didn't want to give Martou a ground for declaring Iselle in rebellion and seize the power in Chalion).

[ Posted on January 14th, 2009 at 23:47 | no comment | ]