Unlike every other Bujold book I have listened to, including Curse of Chalcion and Paladin of Souls, this one was not enjoyable. The main characters are not very likeable, the plot is impossibly complicated, and Bujold takes the longest possible route to describe the simplest things. This book could easily have been half as long, and almost nothing would have been lost.
I'm going back to Miles.
As others have noted, this seems to be the best of the Miles series. The genius of this book is its focus on Mark, Miles's clone, and the significant time it spends with the characters who are sometimes put in the background. I really thought I was going to miss Miles more... I was almost sorry to see him pop back up.
There are times when this book is hard to read... Mark is far from perfect, and he endures some serious suffering before he can be redeemed, but working through all of this story, including some very graphic and upsetting scenes, pays off in the end. Mark and some of his new friends introduced in the last part of this book deserve their own series. In fact, nearly all the characters in this book do... and I hope Bujold has many many more like this one in the pipeline.
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