Miles tries to play detective in a strange, complicated, and deceptively alien culture, while lascivious Ivan manages to get himself involved with several noble females at the same time, a diplomatic no-no of the first order. As the plot thickens, it becomes clear that it's up to Miles to save the empire.
With her usual skill, Bujold addresses timeless issues of human identity through the personal dramas of her characters.
©1996 Lois McMaster Bujold; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"Set in a vividly realized world where Machiavellian intrigues are played out behind a facade of aristocratic discretion, this novel, like its predecessors, blends high adventure with wry commentary on the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between human ideals and political realities." (Publishers Weekly)
"[Even] readers who normally eschew science fiction will delight in Bujold's intriguing plots, appealing characters, and wry humor." (Library Journal)
"As witty and well-handled as is usual for Bujold....In the wake of Bujold's new Hugo, even greater swarms of readers will flock to this book and swell even more the number of her fans, which is only what she richly deserves." (Booklist)
This is not one of my favorite Vorkosigan novels, but as always, Bujold's writing is so excellent and funny and her characters so humorous and well-drawn, that it is entertaining all the way through. Miles and his decorative cousin Ivan are sent to Cetaganda, their own planet's long time enemy, as representatives of the royal family to the funeral of the Cetagandian Empress.
It is supposed to be a strictly diplomatic mission- just show up, stand where you're told, drop off the ceremonial gift and don't embarrass us! But of course things start to go wrong almost from the start and pretty soon Miles finds a mystery on his hands that he cannot resist looking into and is talking Ivan into covering for him... and wacky hi-jinks ensue!
This is one of the lighter of the Vorkosigan books. In many ways Bujold's writing is at its best when drawing light and hope out of horrible and tragic circumstances. But in between some of the 'heavier' events of Miles' life, it is nice to take a little break and this book not only accomplishes that, but also serves the longer plot arc of the entire series- something Bujold is also very good at. There are small references back to events in this book that show up later in the series and will provoke a chuckle or a 'ha!' from those in the know :)
Anyway, it's a Vorkosigan novel, which already means it's probably better written, funnier and more likely to grab and keep you wanting more than about 90% of the science fiction out there :)
If you're at all familiar with the Miles Vorkosigan saga you will be drawn into this audiobook immediately and recognize the Machiavellian intrigue and humor Lois Bujold breaths into her stories. Having read the excellent novel, this audio edition holds up extremely well. The reader, Grover Gardner, brings nuance to the characters and expression to the story to make for an enjoyable listen. This is classic adventure story telling at its best. The pace is brisk. Miles is a reluctant hero, at times arrogant, who drags himself and those close to him through near fatal scrapes and adventures. As always, he must overcome his physical handicaps, convince others to follow him, and solve some tough puzzles to win the day. Yes, he does talk to himself frequently...this insight into his psyche is both humorous and enlightening. Frankly, I think this helps endear him to his fans. Audible should make the entire Miles Vorkosigan series available so listeners can hear them in sequence and fully appreciate this fantastic universe Lois Bujold has created.
Apparently there are more written book in the series but we don't have them here. The important thing is that the books listed below follow a sequence. (Wouldn't it be nice if someone were to add numbers to the books titles so as to make this less confusing, hint hint)
book 1) Warriors Apprentice
book 2) The Vor Game
book 3) Cetaganda
..as a side thought, it isn't that much that Miles is snooty(er) in this book, it's just the way the author reads it. It makes everyone sound snooty.
I have to admit that I'm a sucker for Miles Vorkosigan stories. I'm not even quite sure why but this one was very satisfying. Anyone who is following this series should not miss this one. It is set very early in Miles's career and rounds out some of Mile's personality and relationship with cousin Ivan.
I don't know how it would be to read, but this book was awsome to listen to. Lois Bujold is clever, creative, tuned in to the kind of deep, wierd questions serious sci-fi fans sometimes wonder about and an excellent writer. Its hard not to laugh out loud during several parts of the novel. Great story.
I love to read, but I am time-limited. Audible allows me to keep up with all my favorite authors while on the hiking trail. Thanks, Audible!
Another great book. In this installment, Miles and Ivan go on a diplomatic mission to Cetaganda and Miles gets into trouble and Miles gets Ivan into trouble. This is a great addition to the Vorkosigan Saga. And I think my favorite line in the book is, '...van-like space clearly designed for the lady-bubbles.' Want to know what this means? Listen to the book.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Cetaganda is the ninth novel that Lois McMaster Bujold published in her popular VORKOSIGAN SAGA but, chronologically, the story takes place earlier in the sequence, between The Vor Game and Ethan of Athos. If you’re new to this series, I (and the author) recommend reading these novels in order of internal chronology which is how we have them listed here at Fantasy Literature. I read some of them out of order because of how they were presented in the Baen Omnibus editions and I regret that. The story flows much better if you read them chronologically. (Still, though, any order is better than not reading them at all — this is a great series!)
In Cetaganda Miles Vorkosigan, the “mutant,” and his tall handsome cousin Ivan are off on a diplomatic mission for their home planet Barrayar. They are attending the funeral of the dowager empress of Cetaganda, a planet where everything is genetically engineered to please the senses of the upper class. Cetagandas, like most of the universe, don’t like Barrayar and, like most of the universe, they especially don’t like the Vorkosigan family because of Miles’s father, the military genius who is unfairly known as “The Butcher of Komarr.” And then there’s the problem that Miles, who was crippled and stunted before birth by a teratogen, doesn’t fit in with the snobbish Cetagandan society because of the way he looks. As usual, he will have to rely on his wits so that the Cetagandans won’t have to metaphorically look down on him, too.
Miles and Ivan have been instructed to keep a low profile and to not do anything that might incite the Cetegandans. Unfortunately, as the Barrayaran government should have known, this is an impossible request. Ivan is unable to keep his hands off of pretty girls (and in Ceteganda, all the girls are pretty) and Miles is a magnet for trouble. Sure enough, the mayhem starts as soon as they arrive on the planet. There’s a conspiracy afoot in the Cetagandan upper class and someone is trying to frame Barrayar for their dirty deeds. Miles has to figure out what’s going on before the relationship really goes sour. But even if he does manage to solve the case, we readers know that, as usual, he’s going to leave a lot of angry people in his wake.
In Ceteganda, Lois McMaster Bujold continues to do what she does so well. This is more of a murder mystery than space opera, but as with all the VORKOSIGAN books, Ceteganda has wonderful characters (we really get to know Ivan Vorpatril in this installment), crazy adventures, fascinating societies, ethical quandaries (mostly having to do with genetic engineering), witty dialogue, and clever plotting with several hilarious scenes. It’s not quite as entertaining as Brothers in Arms and Mirror Dance (which are my favorites so far), but it’s still an excellent novel.
I’m listening to Grover Gardner narrate the Blackstone Audio versions of the VORKOSIGAN SAGA. He’s got the perfect ear for Bujold’s brilliant sense of comedic timing. I highly recommend this series on audio!
I love this series but this edition has Miles in a very confusing and slow moving traditional mystery story that fails to hold the attention. The inter-play between Miles and his cousin is as always, extremely entertaining, but the main plot found my attention wandering. The narrator is excellent.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
The Vorkosigan series is fun, if you like science fiction that features battles of wits more than the sort with lasers. Its hero, the young Miles Vorkosigon, reminds me a lot of George R.R. Martin's Tyrion Lannister, but in a less machiavellian way. Bujold's societies and secondary characters may be a little bland at times (at least in comparison to other sci-fi), but as space adventure goes, it's smarter than a lot of stuff out there.
The chronology of the series is a bit confusing, but I'd suggest reading it in order of:
The Warrior's Apprentice (see my review)
The Vor Game (see my review)
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.
I've enjoyed everything that Louis McMaster Bujold has published, and I think that Miles Vorkosigan is one of the great comic/dramatic heroes of recent literature. Nevertheless, Cetaganda was never my favourite of his adventures. That has changed since hearing this reading of it. The narrator brings out all the dry comedy of narrative, and the detective elements unfold very effectively. Overall, this is a superb reading of an excellent story (but if you're going to buy it, it probably makes sense to start with 'Warrior's Apprentice' which is the first Vorkosigan novel available from Audible).
"Classic, fun sci-fi"
I'm such a fan of Lois McMaster Bujold I find it hard to believe her books need recommending to anyone, as they ought to recommend themselves. This is part of the Vorkosigan saga, but can be read independently. Smart, funny, with a central mystery that pulls you along, and a reader who, you can tell, loves his job.
This is a fantastic book. Lois McMaster Bujold can REALLY write, and the narration of Grover Gardner perfectly brings the book to life. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys elegant, entertaining prose.
I find Ceteganda society totally creepy but I admit that now I want a Haut wife too :-(
"Super awesome plot and great part of the saga"
I particularly loved this book. It was my favourite of the miles novels by far. It was just a very unusual and interesting plot. Ceteganda is a very interesting place and there are some very different characters from the other books. As always miles ends up in the most complex of situations and this is probably more so than most that he encounters.
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