Though this is not nearly my favorite book in the series, it is still exceptional. Bujold is a genius at relaying interpersonal interaction and personal growth in her characters while maintaining a firm grip on their human weaknesses. Like the others in the series, this book sets a darkly funny ambiance.
There is a fantastic change in perspective of the Cetagandans that happens in this book. In the end you don't particullarly love them more, but at least you understand them better and gain a healthy respect of their culture. Some aspects of their society are reminiscent of ancient Japan; the focus on perfection and beauty, the feudal structure surrounding the ruling and military casts, the deceptive power structure, the elitism within the race, and the hidden culture within the culture. I don't know if the conections are incidental or if Bujold intended them, but they add another level of interest to the story.
Ultimately, this is another great story in a string of them from this author.
Technically, Grover Gardner is a competant performer of audio books. He is consistent in his voices and he makes no regular or obvious mistakes. I don't prefer the timber of his voice personally, but eventually you get used to it.
This series actually incorporates a plot and human interaction beyond the bedroom, which is saying a lot for its genra. The story flows pretty well. There are some inconsitencies with 'world rules' set up in the previous books, but I have noticed these in the other books as well (Jade Lee contradicts HERSELF several times in Seduced by Crimson). The errors are all minor and don't appreciably detract from the rest of the book. There was believable interaction between the main characters and good complexity in the relationships. The author allows her characters to make choices beyond those that fate allots them. There are blatent description of sex, so if you are sensitive to that this book is not for you. However, the romance managed to be a byproduct of the story rather than the reverse. Overall, for a romance novel it is okay.
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