In the world of the five gods, demons are real, have rules to follow just as humans do. They are the “steeds” of persons who, by virtue of association, become sorcerers. (Who actually rides who is in question.)
Young Penric, off to become a comfortable lap husband, eschewing the travel and education for which he has longed, stops, of natural good will, to help a fallen elderly lady. He is rewarded by possession.
Prospects change abruptly. No longer to be betrothed, carefully forbidden weapons, and with all afraid to touch him, it is a grimly uncertain time for the young country nobleman.
Discovering that his demon is in fact a multi-generational, multi-lingual composite of females (including a mare and a lioness) does nothing to reduce trepidation.
In the process of discovering who each the other is, a relationship is defined under duress and threat of death . . . for both parties!
Different personalities, motivations, and perceptions are limned well. Done with McMaster Bujold’s usual humor, personal insight, and sometimes sexually hilarious mastery, I found this novella engaging, evocative, and was truly saddened when it ended.
I had an Advance Uncorrected Proof to review. It is perfect. The cover art is captivating and engagingly eerie.
Lois McMaster Bujold