• Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

  • The Miles Vorkosigan Adventures, Book 17
  • By: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 12 hrs and 40 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (1,954 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan returns to the planet that changed her destiny in a new novel by multiple New York Times best-selling author Lois McMaster Bujold.

Future imperfect: Three years after her famous husband's death, Cordelia Vorkosigan, widowed vicereine of Sergyar, stands ready to spin her life in a new direction. Oliver Jole, admiral, Sergyar Fleet, finds himself caught up in her web of plans in ways he'd never imagined, bringing him to an unexpected crossroads in his life. Meanwhile, Miles Vorkosigan, one of Emperor Gregor's key investigators, this time dispatches himself on a mission of inquiry into a mystery he never anticipated - his own mother.

Plans, wills, and expectations collide in this sparkling science fiction social comedy as the impact of galactic technology on the range of the possible changes all the old rules, and Miles learns that not only is the future not what he expects - neither is the past.

©2015 Lois McMaster Bujold (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Featured Article: 12 of the Best Sci-Fi Series in Audio


From the furthest reaches of space to the microbiology of pandemics and gene manipulation, to the future implications of technology for societies similar to our own, science fiction is a fascinating genre that offers listeners a wide variety of ways to access its themes. In looking for the best sci-fi audiobook series, it can be difficult to know where to start due to the genre's sheer number of iterations and variations. But what these series have in common is an acute devotion to telling a good story, as well as fully building out the worlds therein. The writing is enhanced by the creative and impassioned narration.

What listeners say about Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

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Only for Cordelia fans and, even then, be warned.

Where is her editor?

No plot, no conflict, minimal tension (either emotionally or romantically), and she creates events that happened decades before in the series that go against the characters' natures. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen, some difficulty for the characters to overcome. There isn't even any romance tension, which could have saved the book. According to the story, they're basically just re-kindling a relationship, so there's no 'falling in love' process and no wondering if/when they'll declare their love and consummate the relationship. There's mild tension where the hero has to decide to whether to accept a long distance job, but there's no crisis or anything.

There were points where I thought an exciting plot was about to start, but she never took the story in any of those possible directions. It's frustrating to know it could've been so good that it makes your disappointment so much worse.

Someone said she's ending her series and tying up loose ends, which is a good idea as the plots and writing have been going downhill. As someone said, this makes a nice, but boring, epilogue. It should not have been a stand alone book.

I would only read it if you're a Cordelia fan, which I am; so I continued listening all the way to its tedious end. But I would recommend buying a used paperbook, not an audiobook.

29 people found this helpful

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Back to Barrayar

After more than four years, since Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Grover Gardner again brings the Vorkosigan saga to life and back to Barrayar in the latest story “Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.”
I personally began my adventure with this series starting with the “Warriors Apprentice,” and couldn’t get enough of Miles. Brittle boned, slight of build, and always over-matched physically in a world that prided itself on strength, he wass usually able to overcome all obstacles with his keen intelligent and equally sharp and witty wit. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every audible book in this series that Louis McMaster Bujold has so masterfully crafted and this latest release is no exception. Some of my favorited characters are back, including Miles, but this is a Cordelia story. Throughout the series we got to know her; “Shards of Honor” and “Barrayar,” centered on her. We learned of her diverse background growing up on a technological forward thinking planet called Beta Colony that was indirect contrast with the militant hierarchical planet from which her husband came from and which they both resided called Barrayar. Now three years after the death of her famous husband, Aral Vorkosigan, Cordelia, widowed vicereine of Sergyar, is ready to begin a new direction in her life. Insightful and heartwarming, this story does not have a whole lot of action but for those who have been following this series I think you will like this addition.
Grover Gardner, as usual, gives a great performance setting the tone perfectly.

27 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

I expected a book similar to the others in the series - full of action, intrigue & humour. What I got was a badly handled & utterly boring romance between Cordelia & a new character that had no real conflict, angst or even interest. There were one or two minor characters that frankly were more interesting than the protagonists but they were never developed beyond the barest minimum. The whole thing should have been a short story or, at most, a novella. I can't see myself ever listening to this again, whereas all the other books in the series have been read & reread many times. Very annoying.

20 people found this helpful

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Disappointed.

LMB is one of my favorite authors. I had listened to all of Miles several times over, so I could not wait for this one to come out. Her writing style hasn't changed but I did not care for the story itself. I did not get past the first chapter.

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vanishing armada

I was so disappointed with this book. After the first chapters, I only skimmed. I was kind of painful to see characters and relationships I loved sacrificed... for what?

I have read every Vorkisigan book, and some of them are among my favorite books ever. Bujold's writing style is in my top three of all-time.

But in a seemingly obsessive pursuit to redefine/challenge morality, Bujold has turned all of these beloved characters into an amorphous, meaningless mass, especially in this book.

I loved it when the characters were different from each other, when they challenged each other. Now I can only say: "This again?"

14 people found this helpful

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A very flat story

It's happy ending, happy start and happy in the middle. I have read or listened to all Bujold's books so purchased this out of principle although it seems I would stop with this one. The story progress very lazily and has virtually no rise.it's slightly more adventurous than watching paint dry. On the other hand if you have a condition that requires you to avoid strong emotions then this is the book.

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A huge disappointment.

After so many good books this one had no real plot, no suspense, and no action. A sweet but boring love story.

13 people found this helpful

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A Flop.. READ the REST of the Series NOT THIS ONE

Lois is one of my favorite SciFi writers. I have absolutely loved all of her other books in this series. They are full of delightful characters, good plots, humor and philosophical insight applicable to living life today, as well as sound speculation on what life could be like if certain science is realized in the future.

Sadly, this book is a flop. Its plot is uninteresting, not much at all happens. It is a poorly executed romance and nothing more, not at all up to par with the rest of the series.

Read ALL the REST of the series. They are truly a treat. But don't read this one, it will leave a bad taste in the mouth.

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Memory Lane

Many reviews begin with "Do not begin with this one". In this case it is no joke. The fact that this is a good read on its own, does not take away from the fact that this will be a great book in its place in the Vorkosigan series. This book is as comfortable as meeting old friends and sharing memories from times far away. But those memories are from earlier books so well written that just a few words bring them to life.

It is so difficult to write a review of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen without reviewing the whole series, because this book brings the series full circle. But readers lucky enough to have read all of the books from Shards of Honor through the last book before this one, Cryoburn, are jerked back to the early stories and are aware that the references to early stories are not exaggerations for humor. And somehow these memories are pale reflections of the original stories. It almost became a game, to remember what book each reference to early times refers to. Oh yes the head in the bag happened in Barrayar, and the fish tank interrogation happened in Shards of Honor, and it must have been the time young Gregor ran away from his Emperorship that resulted in the battle of the Hegen Hub. It is totally realistic that the characters talk about these things the same way soldiers talk about war stories and do not even try to convey the fear and horror and immediacy of the original events.

"The fact that this book begins with references to the first stories and we get to catch-up with all of the characters lives to this day, gives me the shivering thought that this is the end of the series. The stories begin and logically end with Captain Cordelia Naismith of the Betan Astronomical Survey, who was attacked by a Barrayaran army, met and married helped heal an emotionally broken warrior, who saved the life of her son, and on the way saved the throne of the child emperor and worked her way through the lives around her with calm, clear logic. Of course some of her friends tried to hide from her Betan straightforward thinking, but hey, nobody's perfect. We see her today having fulfilled her promises and responsibilities and ready to live the life she wanted when she was a young woman, before she met and loved and lost Aral Vorkosigan.

Grover Gardner is so good that the listener slides into the book without once being jerked out of the story. I think it must take a good deal of discipline to keep just enough consistency to never once make any one character sound like another, and still keep enough energy in the narrative to reflect the emotion or even harder the lack of emotion in each character.

11 people found this helpful

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Unsurprisingly Pleasant

Any additional comments?

As a long-time fan of this series, I found this audiobook warmly satisfying to experience. Grover Gardner's narration is professional and expressive without being obtrusive, and I was charmed by the characters and plotline, which made for great comfort listening. However, please note: this is primarily a book about the two title characters, both sensible (if sometimes quirky) people who are well into midlife. If you require astonishing plot twists, or if you enjoy high angst, death-defying drama, and youthful mishaps, as in Bujold's books about young Miles, this book might seem rather tame and predictable. But if you'd like an extended glimpse of Cordelia hitting her stride, again, some years after the events of Cryoburn, go ahead and take the jump! For the right kind of reader, this book is a treat.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-18-16

Every trace of an exciting plot dispensed with

Would you try another book written by Lois McMaster Bujold or narrated by Grover Gardner?

I have read them all. This was the one that appealed least - even less than Diplomatic Immunity and Cryoburn.

Has Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen put you off other books in this genre?

A difficult question, since the genre it appears to be written for isn't the genre in which most of Ms Bujold's books are set. It's a lazy, self-indulgent self-congratulatory conclusion for Ms Bujold's own favourite Mary Sue, bringing in character after character who had submerged all other attributes to support her. If you like the ideas of BayBees! and Toddlers! and agonising over long-dead secrets - secrets which within days they seem happy to tell to anyone who's interested, all of whom accept with it grace and tolerance.The only one of the on-going problems that actually boiled over was deal with so efficiently by Mary Sue's idealised devoted swain that it became an anticlimax. No wrecks, and nobody drownded, in fact nothing to laugh at all. I began to wish that Miles would poke the hexapod with his stick with the horse'shead handle. If you are going to write an episode in a space opera, don't buy plot bunnies, then decide not to use them to any effect.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen?

The important question is - which scenes would I have insisted on being inserted. They would have been scenes with some more significant action than a made up game, competed in by characters we neither knew, nor cared about, with rules that might have been comprehensible, but were, absolutely, irrelevant. There might have been a dastardly Cetegandan plot, or a raid by Jackson's Hole on the mothballed Prince Serge, or even a sudden eruption of a volcano. But instead we got kids eating cake.

Any additional comments?

I am keeping it because I have the others, and have only myself to blame for not heeding the warnings.

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  • Krok84
  • 06-12-16

Very disappointing read.

I felt quite let down by this addition to the saga. I finished it simply out of loyalty to the grand story world I love. I wish I could travel back in time, give my younger self a short summary and save the credit for something more worthy.

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  • Dowie
  • 02-08-16

No Space drama its just a mills & boon romance

Would you try another book written by Lois McMaster Bujold or narrated by Grover Gardner?

I have the purchased them all since the Warriors Apprentice and really enjoyed them. I really like the wheeling and dealing that the author can generate and tell with interest. I was so looking forward to this.

What was most disappointing about Lois McMaster Bujold’s story?

This was put forward as a Miles Vorkosogan story. He just appears hafl way through kind of thing. Its a romance not adventure. The story is well crafted and highlights a number of issues. However its not about beating the bandwagon

Which character – as performed by Grover Gardner – was your favourite?

Gardener is a brilliant narrator its just this book content with nods to previous storylines isnt for me .

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen?

Non question its the authors work - they have to get it right

Any additional comments?

On the edge of sending this back - but I wont , mostly because of Grovers narration , it can play in the background. If you are new to the Vorkosogan Saga don't start with this one you wont want to read the rest

2 people found this helpful

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  • J. Furlong
  • 05-07-17

Space Mills&Boone

I'm a big fan of Miles and even a little bit of his assorted relatives, but I really don't know why this book exists. Cordelia is mildly irritating at the best of times, but this book bring entirely devoid of action, drama or even any kind of arc pushes all her worst traits to the fore. It also gives plenty of space to Bujold's annoying habit of over-using and describing gestures, usually hand gestures, that nobody in the history of the universe has ever actually used.

I don't particularly want to read a romance novel, never have, but if I did, I would rather like it to have some kind of a plot. I kept waiting for someone to happen! I feel tricked into reading this as I normally know that I'm getting in the Vorkosiverse.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Digitalsitiriyadh
  • 05-21-16

Vorkosigan, but not Miles

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Somewhat. It's a nice enough story, but a real departure from other vorkosigan saga.

Would you recommend Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen to your friends? Why or why not?

Probably not. It's really not my cup of tea.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Nothing really springs to mind. Not that it is bland, it just did not grab me the way the usual vorkosigan saga would.

Do you think Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No. Give me back the space opera!

Any additional comments?

I was tempted to return the book, but I did enjoy the narration, even if it was disappointing. It's like ordering a ribeye steak, and getting nicoise instead. I still enjoyed it, but it is not steak

1 person found this helpful

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  • Gonefishing
  • 09-30-22

Duller than the rest

I enjoyed the other vorcosigan books despite the narrator not being my favourite but this story was rather dull.

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  • Marleena
  • 03-10-22

Why so many polarised reviews?

Before I listened to this audio book I checked it out and was surprised at the amount of low reviews. Bujolds writing had not disappointed me before, so I went ahead anyway.

All true wealth is biological, and despite lacking in action, battles and mostly Miles, this book addressed, like all the books in this series, the interplay of biology and science. I expect the themes on sexuality and marital relationships are the ones that had resulted in the most bad reviews, as these topics usually do. Unfairly I feel, but you can make your own judgement on that.

It was a pleasant listen (a lot of thanks to the narrator). Much like a book length epilogue to the series. I wish there will be more, but this was a good finale for Cordelias story.

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  • Tuomo
  • 10-03-19

No scifi here

Story was nice, and would have needed very little editing in order to fit in Victorian England.

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  • Keith K
  • 05-25-18

another good yarn from Ms Bujold

Ms Bujold is consistently one of the very best authors in the genre and this book although a little different is excellently crafted.

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  • Hevpais
  • 02-20-18

Loved this book

I admit that I read this one with reluctance, given the Big Event at the end of the previous book (no spoilers). However, I loved it. It swiftly climbed the listings of my favourite LMB's books right up to second - Civil Campaign being up there at the top. Jole is a very likeable character and, as with all LMB's characters, you really feel that you get under his skin.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-14-22

couldnt understand

The reader or the recording missed the beginning of sentences .
couldn't understand the story so it was hard to listen to.

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  • Shane
  • 09-29-18

Shoukd be removed from the canon

Will most likely be removed from the canon in a future Vor Kosigan religion.

Although as always, narrated brilliantly, and lois deserves endless thanks for her previous work.

but no.

.