The choice is not a popular one on Komarr, where a betrayal a generation before drenched the name of Vorkosigan in blood. Thus, the Komarrans surrounding Miles could be loyal subjects, potential hostages, innocent victims, or rebels ready for revenge.
Lies within lies, treachery within treachery - Miles is caught in a race against time to stop a plot that could exile him from Barrayar forever. His burning hope lies in an unexpected ally, one with wounds as deep and honor as beleaguered as his own.
Hi-fi sci-fi: listen to more in the Vorkosigan saga.
©1998 Lois McMaster Bujold; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"Bujold retains the wit, intelligence, action, and great character development that have made the Miles Vorkosigan series so superior. In Komarr she proves once again that it is possible for the latest book in a series to be as good as the first." (Voya)
"As usual, Bujold tells a fast-moving story that combines just the right amount of action and wit as Miles continues to mature in a manner unusually complex for a series protagonist....[Bujold's] work remains among the most enjoyable and rewarding in contemporary SF." (Publishers Weekly)
This one (in the series) has the feel of a set up for the rest of the books that come after it. On its own it is a good book, but if it is taken as a piece of the large picture of the series then it really keeps your interest. It still has some good action, mystery, and suspense. The characters introduced and developed end up playing key roles in the plots to come in future books. For these reasons, I have to take a starr off my review even though I loved the book. I love the series! If you like the 'Prince Roger' series by David Weber and John Ringo then you will love these too!
I have only recently discovered Bujold, and only in the context of her audiobooks, but I have found all of her works to be entertaining and sophisticated works for the genre. Komarr brings a new twist to the Miles saga, by telling half of the story from the point of view of Ekaterina, a female co-equal protagonist. Bujold's strength is no doubt her memorable and quirky characters, and here she develops not just more Miles, but a totally new character as well. And she throws in a mystery that drives the plot along very effectively. No doubt this is not her best novel, but as an audiobook, with a narrator who is totally in command of the material, this is a terrific "listen."
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Roughly the eighth book featuring Miles Vorkosigan in Lois McMaster Bujold's ever-entertaining space opera series the Vorkosigan Saga is Komarr (1998). It opens about three months after the events of the last one, Memory (1997), when the brilliant, curious, hyperactive, and independent Miles apparently found his calling as an Imperial Auditor, a detective/diplomat/judge/paladin who speaks with "the Emperor's Voice." Because Miles and his eight fellow Auditors wield the authority of the Emperor without rules as they solve unusual, challenging, and politically delicate cases, it would seem to be an ideal gig for Miles. And it is, but for one small drawback: it tends to put him on the defensive and to deny him his "forward momentum" that has entertainingly (for us) helped him get into and out of so much trouble in past novels. In this one Miles has traveled to Komarr with his older Auditor colleague Vorbathys to investigate the accident which may be sabotage by which a freight space ship crashed into the solar mirror system vital to the ongoing terraforming of the harsh planet. And it just so happens that Vorbathys and Miles will be staying with the family of the older man's niece, Ekaterin Vorsoisson, whose husband Etienne is the administrator in charge of terraforming in the part of Komarr most affected by the accident/sabotage.
Bujold alternates chapters told from the points of view of Miles and Ekaterin, whose husband is a domineering, serial job-changer who refers to Miles behind his back as "the Vor dwarf" (readers familiar with the series know that an assassination attempt on his parents while he was inside his mother's womb made Miles unnaturally short and large headed). The most interesting parts of this book depict Ekaterin's unhealthy relationship with her selfish and manipulative husband (sex with whom is a nightmarish labor for which she must "hypnotize" herself via ugly fantasies into being able to respond with "natural" passion to avoid his resentful guilt-trips), her curious feelings about Miles (how did he receive and survive the myriad scars on his stunted body?), and his attraction to her (which involves sensual dreams, wistful conjugal fantasies, asides like "Down boy, don't even think about it," and rhetorical questions like "So what is this thing you have about tall women and unrequited love?") It's neat for the lonely Miles to take a back seat every other chapter to a potentially strong but hitherto "self-effacing and self-erasing" woman as she wonders, "How did I grow so small?" and begins to realize that she owns herself.
All of the above is complicated by the fact that Miles, Vorbathys, and the Vorsoissons hail from Barrayar, the homeworld of the Empire that some decades ago violently absorbed Komarr so as to be able to control the planet's many wormhole jump points, which still makes some of the native Komarrans resentful if not rebellious. And by the fact that Ekaterin's husband and their young son Nikolai have a genetically-transmitted, AIDS-like adult-onset disease, her husband having refused thus far to be treated for it because of the attendant shame on being perceived to be a "mutant" in the still too macho and patriarchal Barrayaran culture. Bujold highlights that culture by having her Barrayaran characters think of, allude to, or talk about apt Barrayaran sayings, fairy tales, epic poems, legends, and such that emphasize their dread of mutants and their celebration of self-sacrificing women and heroic men.
Throughout the novel, Bujold writes plenty of her trademark witty lines of dialogue and italicized inner thoughts:
"Tien with a plan was about as reassuring as a two-year-old with a charged plasma arc."
"How could you be lovers with someone and yet feel that every moment alone with them intruded upon your privacy, your dignity?"
"I spent a career fighting the powers that be, now I am them."
"Marriage was not an experience she cared to repeat."
Grover Garden gives his usual professional reading of the novel: nothing fancy, a limited number of voices, none of which are very different from each other, but all easy to listen to (and only his voice could belong to Miles!).
Although to move her plot forward Bujold has Miles act a few times in ways that are, given the situation and his character, unbelievably obtuse or reckless, she tells an involving mystery and an appealingly awkward romance, and I recommend Komarr for fans of entertaining, political, cultural and psychological space opera who don't require violent, large-scale, and pyrotechnic action.
Inhabitants of Komarr live in domes and wear oxygen masks when outside. The planet is in process of being transformed into a more habitable place with the use of a solar mirror. The mirror is shattered by a starship. Miles is sent by the emperor of Barrayar to investigate. Miles and his co-investigator stay with Ekaterin and her husband Tien during the investigation.
Ekaterin is unhappy in her marriage. Because of her husband’s demands Ekaterin suppresses her personality. She lives as a stone but must pretend to enjoy Tien. She doesn’t stand up to Tien to get medical help for their son. She doesn’t have much backbone, but she does some smart and brave things later.
When pregnant with Miles, his mother was exposed to chemicals which caused birth defects. Miles is 4'9" tall due to skeletal problems and periodically has epileptic-type convulsions. He has a brilliant mind and had many successes as a spy and negotiator for the government (in prior books). He is currently a government auditor (investigator).
This reads like a mystery - a long slow process of investigation with an eventual climax with the bad guys. The good guys win through smarts and bravery. This is not romance. A couple is not together at the end, but there is potential for romance in a sequel. Miles is attracted to Ekaterin, but she does not know it. She has not reciprocated. These are the two main characters in the story. She has accidental and coincidental interactions with the bad guys which keeps her in the story.
For me, I would have preferred more interesting characters. Many of the characters’ interactions and conversations were normal. Their actions could easily be set in current day earth - just change the bubble pods to automobiles and add some titles like “my lord auditor.” Sci fi fans should like this more than I. Wormholes facilitate interplanetary travel.
I didn’t know until after I finished this book that this is book #11 in a series with Miles as the main character.
I was uncomfortable with the narrator. I suppose he was ok, but his voice irritated me. His interpretation of different personalities might be different than mine.
Ending: good guys win.
Genre: sci-fi mystery.
Komarr has grown on me considerably since I first read it in paperback years ago. I enjoyed it then but didn't find it as memorable as some of the others in the series, and yet listening to it in audio for the first time I discovered a whole lot I missed earlier. All the same, my rating is for the author rather than the narrator, who is very solid but more of a 4 than a 5. There are a few misreadings and what I think of as mispronunciations, although they might in fact be the different pronunciations standard in different countries and generations. Plus he sounds like he has a bit of a cold during some of the chapters, poor lad. I do like the fact that he narrates all the MV novels and have become very comfortable with his reading style. As far as Komarr is concerned, the plot serves the characters pretty well, and the characters themselves are complex enough to be interesting without being confusing.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
Bujold is one of my favorite modern Sci Fi authors. Her characterization is very strong, with wit, intelligence, good stories, and even some romance ??? I think. Komarr is no exception. Komarr has less action than almost any of the other Vorkosigan novels, yet it had enough for me. It is truly remarkable that Bujold has written so many good books. Komarr has a nice little mystery and some action, but it is mostly character development and relationship building. This was not my favorite Bujold novel, but it was nevertheless superior to almost any other Sci Fi out there.
With his usual "grace" Miles falls in love. This is the funny,heart warming, and just plain action packied good fun that we have come to expect from Bujold. This audio book is well presented and well paced. The Narrator even captures the wry wit of Miles.
The ending was perfect with just the right touch of humor.
The scene where Miles and Ekaterin go shopping was especially well done. The Madam shall we wade line delivered with just the right touch.
I can see this as a romantic sci fi movie. It is enough of a stand alone story that it could be adapted but the Tag line would have to be Love blooms under glass or something like that.
Get this book you wll enjoy it. It is one of ther author's best and is an excellent place to start in the series if you have not encountered Miles before now.
Admonition: I finished this series months ago but I just slammed a new SciFi compenduim so hard in a review that I felt bad, hence this review. :)
Some time ago I finished the last of the Vorkosigan series -- every reading was just outstanding. Lois McMaster Bujold is a strong writer with a good technical/science background. She is the perfect scientist, warrior, politician and all of the stories are woven like a cat's cradle of these elements.
Very much recommended.
This has been my least favorite book of the series so far. It was his first book in his new role, and it was a little rough. Not a lot of excitement and the plot kind of plodding along. At no point in this book did I feel excited to find out what happened next. It definitely had the feeling to be a setup book for the series. It was still a decent listen, just not nearly as good as the rest.
They focused a lot of character development, but the main plot was very weak and when it finally crested at it's high point, it was kind of a dud.
"Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful"
Miles undertakes his first ever job in his new position as Imperial Auditor and at the same time, he meets Ekaterin Vorsoisson, a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. OK, that may not sound like the most gripping novel summary of all time but really this is fantastic. It mixes light social comedy with serious meditations on the nature of power and personal happiness with a gripping detective story. As ever it is read brilliantly by Grover Gardner.
In case you're wondering the chronological order of the Miles Vorkosigan novels is this:
The Vor Game
Brothers in Arms
A Civil Campaign
However, it doesn't matter too much about reading them in the right order as Bujold didn't right them in chronological order, and anyway has said that she wrote them bearing in mind that readers might encounter them out of order.
In addition there is are 3 short stories originally published in a single volume that can be slotted in among the novels, and there are two novels, Shards of Honor and Barrayar, which deal with Miles's parents.
Good reader helps you to get into the book. Wish ther were more of this excellent series. Well worth the purchase.
Part of a series but can be read as a standalone. Will read again.
Just wish there were more
"Great Grover Gardner"
I thoroughly enjoy Bujold's writing style her subtle humor and solid plots are good and strong not overly complicated but edge of seat, Ekaterine is truly a match for Miles and occasionally the wry dry humor makes me laugh out loud, a bit strange when no one can see you are reading....
Grover Gardners narration is addictive his ability to convey different characters with a slight change of voice brings the story to life and the pace allows my middle aged mind to relax and become absorbed, thanks to all involved.
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