• The Physicians of Vilnoc

  • A Penric & Desdemona Novella in the World of the Five Gods
  • By: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 4 hrs and 54 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (367 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When a mysterious plague breaks out in the army fort guarding Vilnoc, the port capital of the duchy of Orbas, Temple sorcerer Penric and his demon Desdemona are called upon by General Arisaydia to resurrect Penric’s medical skills and solve its lethal riddle. In the grueling days that follow, Pen will find that even his magic is not enough to meet the challenges without help from dedicated new colleagues - and the god of mischance.

©2020 Lois McMaster Bujold (P)2020 Blackstone Publishing

What listeners say about The Physicians of Vilnoc

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Hopeful recount of humanity v. epidemic

Hopeful parallel with current SARS COVID epidemic. A Potpourri of Penric remembrances, without spoilers. No mean feat. Good evening's listen, Grover Gardner an ever dependable bard.
Penric works at his brother-in-law's army camp, then the surrounding town and healing temple, faced with a spreading epidemic. Army doctors and orderlies, and public health figures - Mother Goddess healers, butchers, cooks, janitors, householders - care for patients, wonder about cause and cure, and cope with fear, exhaustion and grief as they do. Much recognition given to good nursing technique, which Penric notes as he weals and woes his p.o.v. through the killing fever, ever afraid for his own wife and baby in the midst of it. Kudos to caretakers and other exhaustive workers. Bujold shows with bright vignettes a respectful description of the driving curiosity, creative imagination, and application of scientific method which, cooperatively shared among many thinkers and doers, solves any medical puzzle.
Bujold also acknowledges and discourages the impulse to blame "the other" for epidemic origin and spread of disease, while clearly outlining causal factors. An outlier settlement camp of longstanding POWs are alienated by their enforced status. They self-isolate in response, exhibit ignorance of external science, dominance of their cultural superstition, and disrespect of women, with the result that information pointing to the cause of the fever just happens to reside in taboo female memory, unspeakable. Penric, our hero, cleverly disguising his understanding of their language while among them, thus has an inspired Aha! moment, and he adds their factoid to his accumulating trove to find The Answer.
The army general, faced with death inside his camp, exhibits military response, even to the extreme of execution for minor infraction of regulations when it spreads disease. Penric, when human frailty undermines science, gets angry, and can respond with information, instruction, and conscription for nursing duty to enlighten misbehavers, because he serves a god who is not so Martial.
Message: It's not 'them v. us', we are all us, together, ideally cooperating and acting with compassion, forgiving misbehavior and extending nurture and education to get everyone pointed in the same direction: restored health for all, the only lasting and ultimately also selfish goal.

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Too Short!

By that I mean over too soon. Love Penric and Desdemona, But girl, you don’t write these fast enough! And Grover Gardner, you are the perfect narrator. Just perfect.

Ms Bujold is my favorite author, Andorra reads lot of stuff. Started with Lord Miles, that I read at least once a year and recommend to as many people who will listen. Love everything you write. Like some better than others, but love them anyway.

More please, just more.

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Another perfect escape into intelligent fiction

One of the things I like most about Lois’ books is the mind-expanding effect they have on my understanding of the world around me. I loved every word of this story. Thank you Lois!!

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I love them all, but this one may be a favorite

I think I enjoy these more "slice of life" stories of Penric and Desdemona. However, it's still a story about dealing with a desperate epidemic, past failures, and someone attempting to kill him, so it's not exactly staid.

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Prescient plague story for our times

Prescient plague story for our times, with the introduction of a couple new characters that are keepers. But next time, please let Penric stay home with his daughter and charming family, please? Very nice meshing of the magical world and practical day-today life. Well-crafted. Lovely narration.

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A Penric Story for Quarantine

Will Penric be able to handle his plague better than we have handled ours? A timely novella for Quarantine listening.

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  • 09-13-20

Sad the tales are over

About 10 years ago I discovered the Vorkosigan Saga books and became a huge fan of Lois Bujold. She has a wonderful way of blending adventure, excitement, and humor into her stories. By the time you finish one of her books, her characters feel like old friends. Over the last two weeks, I have listened to all of the Penric and Desdemona Novelas, and I wish they were longer and that there were more of them.

This Novela finds Penric and Desdemona trying to solve the mystery of a strange sickness ravaging the army.

I look forward to when the next Novela, or dare I hope, a full-length Novel featuring Penric and Desdemona is added to the World of the Five Gods. Grover Gardner is one of my favorite narrators and should you choose to listen to this book, you will not be disappointed.

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What can be causing a rash of illnesses?

I love these 5 gods stories! I sympathize with Penric trying to save those that are ill, take on an apprentice, deal with military rules, solve the mystery of the disease vector . . . all while wishing so much to be home with his new baby.

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just right!!

i am in love and must now look for more stories about Pen and Des! enjoy!

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Always subtle, understated, yet engrossing

Lois McMaster Bujold is a master of her craft.
I did not like her style of writing at 1st ( Vorkosigan Saga). I put it down and restarted several times. Now I enjoy it.
I still have to fill my blood 🩸 lust with Martha Wells (Murderbot) tho.