Ethan of Athos – Lois McMaster Bujold

 Standalone… not quite outstanding

Stars: Three  of five.

Review format: Note plus links.
Summary: The familiar old SF “planet of women: chestnut is reversed in the planet of Athos— an all-male planet made possible by the invention of the uterine replicator. Ethan, drawn out of his beloved Athos by a quest, finds himself an alien in more mainstream human society, and cannot help but find women disturbing aliens as well, especially the ultra-competent, ultra-beautiful Elli.Ethan of Athos is Lois McMaster Bujold’s third novel. It departs from the concerns of the Vorkosigan family to explore the ramifications of advanced biotechnology, turning many a cliché on its head along the way. (from goodreads)

Provenance: purchased from the Baen Online Store… via the containing omnibus, Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem.
Date Read: Sometime in late July.  Review written much later. 😦

Recommended for Miles fans, but newbies should start with Cordelia’s Honor, or The Warrior’s Apprentice. As a standalone SF book, it’s not a stand-out. It’s a thought-experiment to explore that point of view.  I read this as part of a Bujold marathon (all 16+ saga books in maybe two to four weeks. Something like that)… so it’s hard to evaluate the individual books in a sensible context.

One thing that did strike me about Ethan’s character – he’s a real fish-out-of-water, and socially naive, but in other ways I think he’s dauntingly competent. At times, I was frustrated at not seeing him through other characters’ eyes. I wanted to know whether he came across as clueless or scary. 🙂

Links and others’ reviews

Other related good stuff and reviews  (added by me, not generated)

  • Fyrefly is a self-confessed fangirl. And an eloquent reviewer – click through for great opinions “Bujold’s got an uncanny ability to create multidimensional, flawed, and loveable characters in a very short space. Even though Ethan is almost painfully naïve throughout the book, it’s hard not to sympathize with him and cheer for him right from the beginning.”
  • Read the first Miles book for free via the publisher: Warrior’s Apprentice
  • Janicu provides a great narrative summary, with her own humor: Elli Quinn “pulls Ethan out of a couple of jams, and I imagine that’s her on the cover of the book with Ethan in the background. When I first bought this book they looked like they were working together, now I think that additionally Ethan is hiding behind her! (Also: he is Lee Majors’ twin). “
  • Eyrie gives it only 5/10: “it’s something of a side story and (I believe) not really necessary for understanding what happens later. This is convenient, since even if you enjoy the rest of the series, you may want to skip this one.”
  • Quest for Ovaries” – how’s that for a review title? A discussion at Tor – puts the book in context as #3 published novel.
  • Want the full list of books in the Vorkosigan Saga? Here’s my list: Bujold Bibliography. That’s also a good place to find my other reviews, which’ll cover all of them as I get to writing them up.


Want me to link to your review too? Let me know in a comment, and I can add the link here.

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