Posts Tagged Vorkosigan Saga

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! (webscription.net)
Provenance: Purchased online via webscription.net. 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.

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Memory – Lois McMaster Bujold

One of many Vorkosigan stories.

Stars: Three and a half of five.

Review format: Note plus links.
Memory – Lois McMaster Bujold. Summary: Dying is easy. Coming back to life is hard. At least that’s what Miles Vorkosigan thinks and he should know, having done both once already. That was when he last visited the planet of Jackson’s Whole, while rescuing his brother. Thanks to quick thinking on the part of his staff, and incredible artistry on the part of the specialist who revived him, his first death won’t be his last. But his next one might be, a realization he finds profoundly unsettling.Even after he returns to military duty, his late death seems to be having a greater effect than he’s willing to admit. Unfortunately, his weakness reveals itself to the world at large at just the wrong time and in just the wrong way, and Miles is summoned home to face Barrayaran security chief Simon Illyan. But when things begin to go subtly wrong in Imperial Security itself, “Who shall guard the guardians ” becomes a more-than-rhetorical question, with a potentially lethal answer. (The publisher)
Provenance: Purchased online via webscription.net. It is only published standalone, not in any current omnibus.

This novel fills the gap between Admiral Naismith’s adventures in Mirror Dance and Imperial Auditor Vorkosigan’s investigation on Komarr.  Miles, and Simon Illyan, struggle to define themselves when they lose an essential part of how they’ve defined themselves.

This was solid and enjoyable, but not as good as Mirror Dance or Barrayar.

Linkage below

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Barrayar – Lois McMaster Bujold

One of many award-winning Vorkosigan stories.

Stars: Four of five.

Review format: Brief review plus links.
Barrayar – Lois McMaster Bujold. Summary: In 1992, Barrayar won both the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.
Cordelia Naismith was resourceful and courageous, but what is Lady Vorkosigan like? When her life is shattered by a soltoxin grenade, the unfortunate Barrayarans who target her husband and hit her child find out. (goodreads)
Provenance: Purchased online via webscription.net. It is only published in an omnibus version called Cordelia’s Honor.

Barrayar was thoroughly enjoyable. After slogging through Shards of Honor left me wondering why Cordelia was such a favorite character with some bloggers, I found out with this book why Cordelia is awesome.  The pacing is snappy, the characterization is gripping and confident, major and minor characters are important and realistic, and interesting moral/ethical dilemmas are presented.

Why, then, did I give it only four out of five stars?  I almost never hand out five stars – so if you start from four-and-a-half… Half a star deducted for not having breathtakingly beautiful writing throughout.

I strongly recommend this book.

An excellent discussion of the book provided by the author as an afterword to Cordelia’s Honor.  Bujold points out themes and tells the evolution of the book’s story.

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Shards of Honor – Lois McMaster Bujold

Flashes of Promise.

Stars: Three of five.

Review format: Review plus links.
Shards of Honor- Lois McMaster Bujold. Cover summary: In her first trial by fire, Cordelia Naismith captained a throwaway ship of the Betan Expeditionary Force on a mission to destroy an enemy armada. Discovering deception within deception, treachery within treachery, she was forced into a separate peace with her chief opponent, Lord Aral Vorkosigan —he who was called “The Butcher of Komarr”—and would consequently become an outcast on her own planet and the Lady Vorkosigan on his.
Sick of combat and betrayal, she was ready to settle down to a quiet life, interrupted only by the occasion ceremonial appearances required of the Lady Vorkosigan. But when the Emperor died, Aral became guardian of the infant heir to the imperial throne of Barrayar —and the target of high-tech assassins in a dynastic civil war that was reminiscent of Earth’s Middle Ages, but fought with up-to-the minute biowar technology. – from the publisher’s site
Provenance: Purchased online via webscription.net. It is only published in an omnibus version called Cordelia’s Honor.

Shards of Honor was Lois McMaster Bujold’s first published novel, and it establishes the Vorkosigan Saga universe in which so many of her books have been set.  It’s solidly written and enjoyable, though I do not think it is as good as her later books, or even up to the level of fun in her  Warrior’s Apprentice, published the same year.

The protagonist Cordelia Naismith is in the general mold of ‘spunky heroine’ – her mental landscape is a nice place to visit, though she does not ‘feel’ to have lived through quite as many years of experience as the author posits.

One minor disappointment was that this book had far less of the humor that I so enjoyed in the Miles books.  In addition, the book’s structure seemed a little disjointed and the pacing uncertain. Miles’ adventures are much more action packed on average. Granted, I did read this after reading thirteen back-to-back Vorkosigan book/novellas including the four Hugo winners – so they set a high standard.

In short, I recommend you start with Miles’ debut in Young Miles (containing The Warrior’s Apprentice, and  the Hugo winners The Mountains of Mourning and The Vor Game). If you like the universe, then circle back to get to know Miles’ parents better with Shards of Honor and Barrayar.

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