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Masquerade in Lodi, written by Lois McMaster Bujold and self-published as an e-book on October 15, 2020 is a novella in the World of Five Gods set approximately a year before Penric's Mission.

Publisher's Summary[]

Bastard’s Eve is a night of celebration for most residents in the canal city of Lodi -- but not for sorcerer Learned Penric and his Temple demon Desdemona, who find themselves caught up in the affairs of a shiplost madman, a dangerous ascendant demon, and a very unexpected saint of the fifth god.

This novella falls between “Penric’s Fox” and “Penric’s Mission” in the internal chronology of the Penric & Desdemona tales.

Plot Summary[]

On Bastard's Eve, Penric was working hard doing the translator's job he'd been given upon his arrival in Lodi. The archdivine came by, noting that he should be taking part in the celebrations, not working. So: could Penric check out this tale of a madman rescued from the sea and in the nearby hospital, then go out and party?

That plan became complicated when the madman turned out to have an ascendant demon, collected from a dolphin and which had previously had been within two humans - a Roknari servant boy and a Roknari murderer who'd been executed for his sorcerer-ness by being put out to sea to drown. The demon was terrified of Penric and Desdemona, and immediately fled the hospital.

In order to give chase and collect the insane demon, Penric needed a Saint of the Bastard. This took the form of a teenage orphan girl, Blessed Chio, who quite enjoyed the thought of a trip into town during the holiday celebration.

Their first stop was the curia; with no further news to be found there, they then went to the hospice where the young man had originally been. There they discovered his mother, Learned Iserne. A young man accompanying her had come to her home to inform her that her son, Ree Richelon, had gone missing off his boat; she hoped - correctly - that the young madman would turn out to be him.

The young man, Aulie Merin, decided to accompany Penric and Chio in their search as they wandered the island. At a pause to collect some food, a cutpurse made a try to steal Penric's braids; Des spotted the approach, so the attempt went poorly for the would-be thief. Penric temporarily paralyzed his hand and then gave him a stern sermon. He then bought the meat sticks as he'd planned to do. Merin, however, took advantage of the distraction by grabbing Chio and taking her off with him.

After concluding that he should continue his search and that Chio would likely be trying to do so as well, Penric then realized his searches had omitted one area: the harbor, which had been searched first by others, with no success. His visit there produced first the result of finding an injured man whose clothes had been taken - very likely, the demon's work. Penric treated his head injury and led him to the hospice.

"No, just his errand boy."
―Penric's response to victim wondering if he were the White God[src]

Penric resumed his search, and shortly found all three of his targets: demon-ridden Ree, Chio, and Merin, all in one warehouse. Merin and Ree were fighting, and the Bastard was not reaching through Chio to remove the demon from Ree. Penric broke into the warehouse and broke up the fight; the Bastard promptly showed up and Chio swallowed the demon. With Des hiding from the god, Merin attacked Penric. Chio knocked the attack away, then used a steel hairstick to stab Merin in the arm. Des managed to return, and the fight resolved with Merin immobilized and silenced.

Ree was able to talk at this point, no longer being bedemoned. As it turned out, Merin had thrown Ree overboard on the original ship because Ree had caught him stealing money. Some watchmen showed up, and Penric talked them into collecting Merin, while he and Chio brought Ree back to his mother. Afterwards, Penric took Chio back to her home, on the Island of Gulls, and she explained their doings to her chapterhouse supervisor, Learned Riesta.

"We walked all over town to the market parties, ate festival food, tracked down the ascendant demon, rescued its rider, and captured a murderer.  And I hear Learned Penric revived a robbery victim and reformed a cutpurse, though even the god wasn’t entirely sure that last was going to stick.”  Her sly grin widened as she capped this with, “Also I met a very nice boy, together with his family."
―Chio's summation of the night[src]

Major Characters[]

Supporting Characters[]

Minor Characters[]

  • Learned Riesta
  • Gnade
  • Master Linatas