I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Poor Miles Vorkosigan! Right from the start of Memory (1996), perhaps the fifth novel featuring Miles in Lois McMaster Bujold's entertaining Vorkosigan space opera saga, he is suffering from both the worst physical afflicton in his nearly thirty-year life and the worst self-inflicted debacle in his thirteen-year career. The former involves his being prey to unpredictable, debilitating, and apparently untreatable seizures, rendering him a threat to any action undertaken by his Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet. And if the Chief of Barrayaran Imperial Security (ImpSec) Simon Illyan were to learn about it, Miles' sensational career and liberated alter-ego as Admiral Naismith of the Dendarii, as well as his official but modest career as ImpSec Lieutenant Vorkosigan of Barrayar, would be finished. So he writes a false report for Simon Illyan, putting himself in an impossible position. It is unsettling to witness Miles being crushed by circumstances of his own making that leave him apparently without the slightest hope of being able to jury-rig a plan involving improvisation, subterfuge, sleight of hand, b-essing, or any other tool from his usual bag of “forward momentum” tricks.
The promising opening to the novel also provides glimpses of Miles' doomed relationship with Sergeant Taura, the eight-foot-tall, genetically engineered super soldier with a brief built-in life span, his intense but ultimately hopeless relationship with Dendarii Captain Elli Quinn, who will love only Admiral Naismith and refuses to marry Miles Vorkosigan, and his sadly nostalgic relationship with Elena Bothari, who wants to retire from the Dendarii and raise a family with her husband. And as soon as Miles returns to his home in the Barrayaran capital, Bujold summons several interesting characters from Miles' past, including his gormless Cousin Ivan, his former hot-tempered superior in Brothers in Arms (1989), Captain Duv Galeni, an unprecedentedly love-smitten Emperor Gregor, and, most compellingly, Simon Illyan, when his eidetic memory implant chip goes haywire, making his behavior increasingly disoriented and pathetic in a manner reminiscent of the dementia that has wiped out my father's short term memory.
Memory is one of the Miles novels that take place nearly entirely on Barrayar away from his (Admiral Naismith's) Dendarii Free Mercenaries. Miles spends most of this novel in his family castle-mansion in the Barrayar capital, in his family's hill-country estate, or in the daunting ImpSec headquarters (dubbed by Miles "Cockroach Central"). Despite or because nearly the entire book is set on Barrayar and features no space battles or exciting action scenes, Memory is a page-turning novel with an interesting cast of characters and an intriguing mystery. And will Bujold finally have Miles resolve his ever conflicted dual identity as Mercenary Admiral Naismith and ImpSec Lietuenant Vorkosigan?
Some scenes are funny, as when Emperor Gregor offers Miles the chance to play at being an "Auditor":
"I thought you'd like it."
"Like it! It'll be downright orgasmic."
"Don't get carried away."
And some scenes are moving, as when Miles unburdens himself to Simon while fishing:
"I liked the winning . . . . I always got away with it somehow. Any way I could. On the table or under it, I won. This seizure thing . . . seems like the first enemy I couldn't outsmart . . . . "I was beaten . . . . Yet I survived. Didn't expect that. I feel . . . very unbalanced about that. I had to win always, or die. So . . . what else was I wrong about?"
Grover Gardener is his usual professional and appealing self, smoothly reading the novel as though he were born to voice Miles and managing to enhance the text in all the right places and ways without ever showing off or trying too hard to alter his voice for female or old voices. And his clear, dry, DJ-esque voice is as pleasant to listen to as ever.
All that said, I must admit (SPOILER ALERT) that although Bujold had me smiling as the long resolution of the novel plays out, the part of me stimulated by bracingly tragic tales of human self-destruction was disappointed by how ideally she works out the initially devastating predicaments of Miles and especially Simon Illyan, so that they both come out of their afflictions far better than they went into them. And Gregor's doctor love interest appears too more zaftig and not intelligent enough, and General Haroche is not as wiley as he's supposed to be. And I missed Miles' socially challenged clone-twin Mark.
But overall, Bujold is in fine fettle here, writing another solid entry in the Vorkosigan saga, each novel of which feels fresh and fun, because she is so adept at coming up with new ideas for Miles' trials and triumphs.
After a unexpected and crushing blow to his career, Miles sinks into a long but thoughtful depressive period which is a little slow, though still interesting to read. However, seeing "Auditor Miles" at work later more than makes up any lack of space battles. Miles crazed and entertaining maneuvers still keep you on the edge of your seat crying, "Go Miles!" The scenes between Illyan and Miles were gut-wrenching and absorbing. Must read for Miles fans.
Good narration. Great story. A tale of new beginnings for several characters, a soul-searching character-making shake-down, and bone-deep loyalty and friendship. It's a mystery plot, a "who done it" with minor elements of science-fiction (the memory chip, embedded in Simon's brain for decades). I quickly guessed who the villain was, but loved the scenes where Miles set the culprit up to reveal his true colors.
Characters: Miles Vorkosigan, Simon Illyan, chief of Imperial Security (Imp Sec) at planet Barrayar. Various employees at ImpSec. Lady Alyce Vorpatril. Ivan Vorpatril, and several others.
I chuckled several times, mostly at the untrained butler / chauffeur.
Miles takes a trip to his country estate. Wonderful fishing scene.
Miles also goes back to see the hill folk in the Dendarii Mountains, to pay his respects to the baby's grave (relates to scenes from the prequel, Mountains of Mourning).
Oh, and this is where Miles gets his fantastic cook.
Expect just the slightest bit of romance for more than one couple.
It has not been enjoyable at all.
Miles - because he's Miles!
Get a different narrator!
I love the Vorkosigan Saga, and I was really looking forward to listening to this book. I've read the other ones in e-book format. But I just cannot bear this narrator. Something about his voice and inflections grates on my last nerve. I've listened to about 1 hour of this recording, and can't take any more. Will be returning this one, and buying the e-book.
This is a book I can listen to over and over - either when re-listening to the whole series or just on it's own.
The way Bujold transitions Miles from warrior to Auditor and the whole 'can of worms' thing that Haroche finds himself in
Laugh, cry, feel for Miles, enjoy the spectacle.
This is one of the best of a great series - a series not just for Science Fiction buffs but for anybody who appreciates superlative writing and characterization.
While a little more cerebral and less action packed than other installments in the series, this episode adds important dimension and complexity to Mile's character. I enjoyed it and recommend it to Miles Vorkosigan fans.
It is a major turning point and must-read for series fans!
Say something about yourself!
For me the book has like 15 boring chapters, and at the very end it got better. I have been reading other reviews, and one of them says that it is a very good book, but in order to grasp the story you need to have read at least five or six Miles stories before in order to understand the characters. I am assuming that was the reason I did not like this book that much. However I am going to give a try to at least one of the other stories.
Social Scientist and Researcher; mostly retired but conducting longitudinal research into social issues especially the media and social networking. Avid SF and alternative history fan; enjoy a good crime yarn and have become something of an addict for audiobooks.
Lois McMaster Bujold has created an extraordinarily clever, credible scion of one of the great houses of Barayar, part of the empire ruled by the young Emperor Gregor. For those who haven't read any of the series, it's well worth starting at the beginning because in a world where men are expected to be physically perfect and very strong, the hero is a pint-sized young man with brittle bones and other disabilities which are more than offset by lightning intelligence, quick wittedness and the boldness to create a second character for himself as the leader of a mercenary fleet. But Miles has suffered badly during a raid and returning home, he is nonplussed to find that his cousin the Emperor is somewhat distrait, while his intelligence chief (Miles' superior) is having problems with what appears to be approaching senescence. Miles finds himself out of one job, at a loose end and then suddenly thrust into action in a quite unexpected fashion. This is a highly recommended work but unless the reader is familiar with the history of the character, this is a purchase to defer until you are: it's well worth the time!