A review by plottrysts
The Physicians of Vilnoc, by Lois McMaster Bujold


[a:Lois McMaster Bujold|16094|Lois McMaster Bujold|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1623465132p2/16094.jpg] is a master of her craft. The Physicians of Vilnoc is another entry in her Penric & Desdemona series. In this installment, Pen's brother-in-law calls upon him and Des to assist with an unknown illness sweeping the military barracks.

Reading this book a year in to the COVID-19 pandemic (hopefully the tail end!) brought home the issues faced by our hero. He leaves home, expecting to be back within a day or two, but is immediately separated from his family for an extended period of time. He is exhausted by treating increasing numbers of patients, and at the same time feels that he isn't providing enough care. Since he and his fellow practitioners (a medical officer in the army and, later, a novice sorcerer) are not only treating the disease but attempting to discover its origins, the pressure they face is intense. Although written before our real-life pandemic, the novella addresses many of the same difficulties we are facing now, making this an incredibly prescient and poignant book.

As always, the banter between Pen and Des is a highlight. It's also great to read about characters for whom compassion and intelligence are some of the most highly-valued traits.

This objective review is based on a complimentary copy of the novella.