The Orphans of Raspay by Lois McMaster BujoldThe Orphans of Raspay by Lois McMaster BujoldThe Orphans of Raspay by Lois McMaster Bujold

Those of us who are big fans of Lois McMaster Bujold, now age 71, are always thrilled to have a new story from her. These days she’s been writing novellas and most of them are PENRIC AND DESDEMONA stories, a spin-off from her award-winning FIVE GODS / CHALION trilogy.

The Orphans of Raspay (2019) is the seventh of these novellas, if we go by publication order, and the eighth if we go by the story’s chronology. Most (but not all) of the novellas have a self-contained story with a satisfying conclusion, but I’d still recommend that you read them in either publication or chronological order so you can experience the development of Penric’s relationships. It is not necessary to read the CHALION trilogy, but you should because it’s so good.

The Orphans of Raspay begins about a year after the events of the previous installment, The Prisoner of Limnos. Penric and his demon Desdemona have been together for 13 years. While on a journey, their ship is raided by pirates and Penric is thrown into the bilge with a couple of young girls who’ve also been captured. The girls are sisters whose mother has died. They were supposed to be travelling to meet their father, though it’s not clear if he wants them. Their mother was his mistress and he has his own family who probably don’t know the girls exist and won’t be eager to welcome them.Penric & Desdemona

When the ship arrives at an island controlled by the pirates, the captives are moved to a prison where they’ll wait until they’re sold into slavery. Penric and Desdemona must figure out how to free themselves and the girls, destroy the pirates’ human trafficking business, return home, and find the girls’ father.

The Orphans of Raspay is a fun episode in Penric’s story. It’s full of action, tension, and suspense and the two young girls are a nice addition to the cast of characters.

I continue to listen to the audiobooks narrated by Grover Gardner and produced by Blackstone Audio. These are so good that I am willing to wait for each one. Unfortunately, they are always published months or even, as in this case, a year after the story first appears in print. The Orphans of Raspay is 5 hours long in audiobook format.

Published in 2019. When the ship in which they are traveling is captured by Carpagamon island raiders, Temple sorcerer Penric and his resident demon Desdemona find their life complicated by two young orphans, Lencia and Seuka Corva, far from home and searching for their missing father. Pen and Des will need all their combined talents of mind and magic to unravel the mysteries of the sisters and escape from the pirate stronghold.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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