I've been working my way through the Vorkosigan series and loved Bujold's humor and lighter touch in Cetaganda. High points for me were when Miles first meets the gorgeous genetically engineered Haut-lady Rian and is badly smitten (of course) and his second interview with the Cetagandan security colonel in the presence of the Barayaran imp-sec officer, who realizes just how much Miles hasn't told him about what's going on. It is very funny stuff.
In this book the only two characters from the earlier novels are Miles and his cousin Ivan. So far as the series is concerned, in this book one learns a whole lot about Cetagandan society and culture. In the earlier books they were just the somewhat mysterious expansionist enemy, although Barayar and Cetaganda are currently at peace.
For those interested in listening to/reading the novels in the series in chronological order I believe it goes this way:
1) Shards of Honor,
(these two books concern Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan, parents of Miles Vorkosigan)
3) The Warrior's Apprentice,
4) Short Story: ???The Mountains of Mourning??? (short story is contained in "Borders of Infinity"),
5) The Vor Game,
7) Ethan of Athos,
8) Short Story: ???Labyrinth??? ("Borders of Infinity"),
9) Short Story: ???The Borders of Infinity???,
10) Brothers in Arms,
11) Mirror Dance,
14) A Civil Campaign,
15) Novella: ???Winterfair Gifts???,
16) Diplomatic Immunity,
I first came across Tamora Pierce via her "lady knight" series "Protector of the Small" and enjoyed the heroine Keladry, with her secret patron Alanna the Lioness. I then filled in the story with the Lioness and Wildmage books intended for young children. But it wasn't until I read "Trickster's Choice" that I became a Pierce fan: the book instantly became a favorite and was my first purchase when I joined Audible.com. It did not disappoint: Trini Alvarado does a superb job with the narration and dialog, five stars all the way!
This book concerns the daughter of Alanna the Lioness and George Cooper, secret spymaster of Tortall. Sixteen year old Alianne (Aly) learned spycraft at her father's knee but has a troubled relationship with her famous mother, the King's Champion, who is often away at the wars. When circumstances cause Aly to be plucked from home and dropped into the intrigues of a foreign kingdom and culture, thanks to the meddling of the "Trickster" god Kyprioth, she must use all her skill and savvy to survive, thrive, and protect those around her. In addition to Aly, the book is filled with compelling, well-developed characters. But it is simple in style, as opposed to beautiful literature: the story is the attraction, not language artistry.
As heroines go, I find it hard to top the "Trickster's Choice". She was a character I wanted to root for from early on and didn't disappoint. And I think that one would have to have a hard heart not to tear up a bit when Aly encounters her father near the end of the book, no matter how many times one has read/listened to it. Those who enjoy this book will certainly want to continue with "Trickster's Queen" to find out how the story ends. (Hint: no, the Trickster's Queen isn't Aly...)
My impression is that Tamora Pierce has been gradually writing for older readers as her series progress and this book seems intended for teens and, perhaps, fairly mature tweens (as is her Beka Cooper "Terrier, Bloodhound, Mastiff" series). Themes include slavery, racism, revolution, and deadly political intrigue. For the record: I am not part of Pierce's target readership since I am an older male not a young female. But I enjoy books with strong female protagonists and this book has one of the best.
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