Audie Award Winner, Science Fiction, 2014
Captain Ivan Vorpatril is happy with his relatively uneventful bachelor's life as a staff officer to a Barrayaran admiral. Cousin to imperial troubleshooter Miles Vorkosigan, Ivan is not far down the hereditary list for the emperorship. Thankfully, new heirs have directed that headache elsewhere, leaving Ivan to enjoy his life on Komarr, far from the Byzantine court politics of his home system. But when an old friend in Barrayaran intelligence asks Ivan to protect an attractive young woman who may be on the hit list of a criminal syndicate, his chivalrous nature takes over. It seems danger and adventure have once more found Captain Vorpatril.
Tej Arqua and her half-sister and servant, Rish, are fleeing the violent overthrow of their clan on free-for-all planet Jackson’s Whole. Now it seems Tej may possess a secret of which even she may not be aware - a secret that could corrupt the heart of a highly regarded Barrayaran family and provide the final advantage for the thugs who seek to overthrow Tej’s homeworld. But none of Tej’s formidable adversaries have counted on Ivan Vorpatril. For behind Ivan’s facade of wry and self-effacing humor lies a true and cunning protector who will never leave a distressed lady in the lurch - making the ultimate sacrifice to keep her from harm: the treasured and hard-won freedom from his own fate as a scion of Barrayar.
Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the most honored writers of science fiction and fantasy, having won five Hugo Awards and three Nebula Awards. In 2011 she was awarded the Skylark Award for her significant contributions to science fiction.
©2012 Lois McMaster Bujold (P)2012 Blackstone Audio
The twists and turns within the plot. Excellent.
In this book Ivan finally shines rather than being "bloody Ivan".
We've always seen Mile's Cousin as a dashing but somewhat unambitious, at times bumbling adjunct character to the series. This captivating and amusing tale shows a whole new side to his character and some surprising gifts as well.
As per usual, Lois is spot on the issue. Her writing is tight and interesting. However, in her desire to stay true to Vorpatril's character, she ends up sacrifising the humour and devilish twists that a Miles narrative offered.
In fact, the funniest scene was when Miles makes a brief appearance, and Lois's dialogue blossoms, so to speak. But, straight away, that sword is back in its scabard, as the Vorpatril narrative takes over, and we are back at Mr Straightlace and a unique situation.
In Cetaganda, Vorpatril came off as the opposite to Miles, where Miles was the studious/hard working spy and Vorpatril as the seducer and debonair type. Sadly, that element isn't explored. Instead, Vorpatril becomes a staid and boring character who realises he's becoming a tired old bachelor.
Tej/Tez tries to cover up the blankness of the Vorpatril's narrative, but again, all I can say in despair is, "Miles, Miles, where are you!?"
Finally Ivan's turn!
Byerly Vorrutyer is just such a baaaad boy...and so much fun. Since his introduction into this series he's been such an enigma, and almost as much trouble as Miles. Byerly takes on more personality here and we learn just a taste of his history. I certaiinly hope we get to read further of his adventures in Jacksonian Space with his blue cherie amor.
The tunnel scene at the end. The GEM grandmother and her family are just too entertaining in their frenzied search for riches. Then again, Ivan's first meeting with his Princess and her sister, all the way through Byerly showing up at the girls' apartment is pretty entertaining also.
Keystone Cops of Barrayar!
As with every one of the Vorkosigan books, this is another winner. It will never be on my top 5 list (or top 10, either) as the story line lacks something I can't quite define. Cetaganda is my least favorite and Shards, Barrayar, Memory, Komarr and Civil Campaign are probably my top 5. Then again, that list could change when I listen to some of the older ones again. The one thing I didn't get here was that it felt as though Aral was still living on Sergyar even though he passed away at the end of Cryoburn (another good installment).
As I commented above, the story wasn't a 5 star as it lacked some of the traditional surprise elements I have come to expect in Ms. Lois' Vorkosigan books. The storyline here was a bit too expected in my opinion (as in "I saw that one coming"). Very unusual for this author. So only 4 stars here for the story. But then almost every one of h installments has been a 5 star listen for me....very unusual. Perhaps this is because I've been anticipating this so long it couldn't live up to my vaunted expectations?
This book was light fare. I think it had to be light since it was about Ivan and Byerly, after all. If you want heavy reading, go to the earlier books in the series (excluding Civil Campaign).
I did enjoy reading this book. I would recommend this book to a friend, if that friend had read the books preceding this in the series.
However that said, this story was not a Vorkosigan Novel. It was set featuring Ivan instead of Miles so the overall theme of the book was different (no insane strategies pulled from nowhere by Miles to save the day). This is a Vorpatril novel. And frankly, Ivan and the other main character were kinda boring. This novel had several slow points. I felt that there were several 'fluff' sections in the book that were just there to pad word count. There was no true villain, which was odd.
If I were to compare it to another book I have read it would be the last book in "The Cat Who..." mystery series, which was light on plot and heavy on characters doing things non-plotty (which was boring to read). I did enjoy this book, but I felt that the plot which Bujold introduced was somewhat shallow compared with other ones she has created over the years, and it was all an excuse to see what all our old friends were up to since Diplomatic Immunity.
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