Cryoburn – Lois McMaster Bujold

The title is the worst part.

Stars: Four-and-a-quarter of five.

Review format: Review plus links.
Cryoburn – Lois McMaster Bujold. Summary: Kibou-daini is a planet obsessed with cheating death. Barrayaran Imperial Auditor Miles Vorkosigan can hardly disapprove—he’s been cheating death his whole life, on the theory that turnabout is fair play. But when a Kibou-daini cryocorp—an immortal company whose job it is to shepherd its all-too-mortal frozen patrons into an unknown future—attempts to expand its franchise into the Barrayaran Empire, Emperor Gregor dispatches his top troubleshooter Miles to check it out.
On Kibou-daini, Miles discovers generational conflict over money and resources is heating up, even as refugees displaced in time skew the meaning of generation past repair. Here he finds a young boy with a passion for pets and a dangerous secret, a Snow White trapped in an icy coffin who burns to re-write her own tale, and a mysterious crone who is the very embodiment of the warning Don’t mess with the secretary. Bribery, corruption, conspiracy, kidnapping—something is rotten on Kibou-daini, and it isn’t due to power outages in the Cryocombs. And Miles is in the middle—of trouble! (
Provenance: Purchased online via It is only published ‘standalone’.

Cryoburn was published in 2010, and as far as I know it is the furthest along in Miles’ adventures.  I strongly recommend this book, particularly to people who are fans of the Vorkosigan universe.

It is well-written and enjoyable.  As a quibble, I must say that Miles seems not to have the zest and momentum he had at a younger age, but then again he is a family man now, and settled in his unusual career as Imperial Auditor.  The eleven-year-old boy Jin Sato is a good foil for Miles, not just in youth and enthusiasm, but also to provide an external point of view onto Miles and Armsman Roic.

I did have the feeling that interesting things must have been missed in the six or so years that passed since the previous book.

Ware Spoilers below

Things I liked

  • The slight weariness of the story itself is more than offset by the interesting themes of death/not-death and grief that weave through the novel.  This subconsciously sets you up as a reader for the suckerpunch ending.  “Count… Vorkosigan, sir?”
  • What was really masterful was then the group of almost haiku-like stories showing the aftermath from different characters.  Mark’s description of watching Lord Vorkosigan die before his eyes elevates this book to 4.5 stars.  Otherwise it’s just a four-star.
  • I also like the abrupt hallucinatory beginning with Miles staggering blindly through the sub-basements.


  • The title! What do you mean, Cryoburn?  The other novels had such prosaic well-justified names in comparison. While reading this I was constantly grumbling to myself, wondering what the title was supposed to mean aside from a reference to cryo-suspension suffixed onto a fun verb.
  • Jin’s love of pets seemed to be authorial intervention.  The world seemed very bleak, almost Androids-Dream-of-Electric-Sheep, and so I found the menagerie incongruous.  Yes, it does justify why Jin so readily ‘adopts’ Miles, and it’s a pretext for why Jin ran away from his Aunt and Uncle, but… too tidy.

Other reviews of Cryoburn  (added by me, not generated)

  • Reading the Leaves – feels it’s not as good as Mirror Dance.  In total I agree, but the ending is so strong!
  • ela21 liked it – and hadn’t even read the other books! I hadn’t really seen the ending coming, but when I realized that the incoming soldier was in dress uniform, I started to think ‘Uh oh, this is bad news.’
  • Another long-time fan of Miles, mervih gives it a qualified thumbs-up… and agrees that the ending calls for kleenex.


Did I overlook your review? Let me know in a comment, and I will add the link here.

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  1. #1 by Ela on September 15, 2011 - 11:58 am

    Thanks for linking to my review. I should point out that I have actually read a number of the Miles books, certainly the three immediately prior to ‘CryoBurn’, but not the one where he actually dies and undergoes cryo-freezing himself!

    • #2 by Sandy M. on September 15, 2011 - 12:26 pm

      Ohhh, sorry about that. Well, you are right that the cryo-freezing experience is important in adding depth to this story.

      The freezing happens in Mirror Dance which is actually my favourite Miles book so far. If you’re a Miles fan, you’ll like that one.

  1. Lois McMaster Bujold – Cryoburn « Fyrefly's Book Blog

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