Michaeline: New Reading! Penric 7, or: “The Orphans of Raspay”

Cover of The Orphans of Raspay with Penric kneeling in the hold of a ship with two girls regarding him with suspicion.

“The Orphans of Raspay”, a new novella by Lois McMaster Bujold in the Penric and Desdemona series, came out July 18, 2019. Image taken from Amazon.com.

A Review in Three Stages

If “The Orphans of Raspay” is your first Bujold: Penric is an archetypical hero, and sharing a mind with an entity is an old and wonderful trope; Lois McMaster Bujold does her trope-twisting magic with both. You won’t have any trouble following the story on this level. This is an exciting tale with a happy ending, and lots of things that go boom. Some people may feel leery about the fact that the Orphans could be sex-trafficked. I’m squeamish myself, but Lois has a light hand, and while I worry about the girls, I know they are going to be fine. The girls are really well done, too. So often, writers turn child-characters into plot moppets, or precocious brats. These kids are essential to the story, and they act like kids. If you like clever tales of adventure, this is well worth a few hours of time. Penric and his demon, Desdemona, are a great team!

For people who have read the Penric series, but not much else:
CAUTION: HERE BE SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS NOVELLAS (maybe).

It’s another Penric and Desdemona! Fabulous!

Let me get the bad news out of the way first: Continue reading

Michaeline: Wedding Dance

a peasant wedding from 1566 with many people dancing and enjoying themselves, among other things

Some things don’t change. Fortunately, the fashion for wearing your best codpiece to the wedding does seem to be buried in the depths of time. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

The cake has been cut and the booze has been flowing freely for about an hour when you look across the dance floor, and you see him. He was at your table, and sitting, he was a well-dressed nothing. But now, he’s dancing, and there’s something about the fluid motion of his arms, the way his kneebone connects to his thighbone, and oh lordy, will you look at his hips? You look away before your heart pops over your sweetheart neckline. You look back, and there he is, asking you to dance. You take his hand, and take your place in the crowd of people swaying and celebrating a new marriage. Welcome to the dance.

What can I say about the wedding dance as a writing prompt? It permeates most cultures, so we’ve all seen it, or can enjoy it on YouTube. When you see the same ritual conducted in so many different settings, it’s easy to imagine it conducted in more fantastic places. A historical Scottish penny wedding, as described on Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion website here. Or a frontier wedding dance on a newly settled planet. Or maybe a fantasy wedding in some delightful fairyland of your imagination.

And of course, what kind of story doesn’t have Things That Go Wrong? Continue reading