Jenny's Library

Reading Round-up 2013: week 24

Posted on: November 19, 2013

(aka, the week I read only books by Bujold)

cover image for MemoryMemory by Lois McMaster Bujold

Miles is used to proving people wrong, especially when it comes to what they think about him and what he can do. Since before he was born he’s been escaping death and ignoring all “rational” assumptions about what a body like his is capable of.  But when Miles disregards – and hides from others – the physical effects of his latest brush with mortality, he ends up almost costing his team their mission and another officer his life.  For once, Miles has gotten himself into a mess he won’t be able to talk his way out of.  As if that wasn’t enough, now Miles’ mentor, security chief Simon Illyan, has fallen ill and doesn’t seem to be getting any better.  Even worse, Illyan is being kept under guard at Imperial Security, and Miles no longer has the security clearance to make sure Illyan is being cared for as he ought to be – and that his demise isn’t being sped along by someone inside ImpSec.

Memory is just absolutely superb.  Quite different in tone from the Miles books before it, Memory nevertheless works precisely because of the way it builds off of Miles’ earlier adventures. That Miles completely deserves the consequences he’s given doesn’t change the fact that they feel like punch to the gut – if anything, that makes it hurt all the more.  Bujold could have gone for the easy way out here, but instead she holds Miles feet to the fire and forces him to realize that some mistakes can’t be forgotten, even if one must eventually move on.  And it’s this that makes Memory such a wonderful and heartbreaking book, worthy of all the praise it’s been given.

cover image for KomarrKomarr by Lois McMaster Bujold

When a freak crash leaves Komarr’s orbiting solar mirror damaged, and the planet’s decades long terraforming project in jeopardy, Lord Miles Vorkosigan (along with fellow Imperial Auditor Professor Georg Vorthys) is sent to determine if the tragedy was an accident or sabotage.  Miles being Miles, chaos ensues – including murder, kidnapping, the kind of secret weapons that are best left to mad scientists, and falling in love.

More serious than most of the previous Miles books, Komarr is similar in tone to Memory.  But where Memory had Miles flailing for much of the book, Komarr shows Miles settling in (yes! settling! in!) to his new role of Imperial Auditor, and the mature responsibilities that job entails.  It also has one of my favorite love stories ever, a romance made awesome not only by Ekaterin being shown as having intelligence, determination, and personality to spare, but also because of the respect that Miles shows her and her son (and the fact that she dares to call him on it when he slips).

cover image for Winterfair GiftsWinterfair Gifts by Lois McMaster Bujold

Lord Miles Vorkosigan and Ekaterin Vorsoisson are finally getting married.  Naturally, between the preparations for the ceremony, reception, and all the guests, the house in chaos.  Among those coming to wedding are Elena Bothari-Jesek, Baz Bothari-Jesek, and Sergeant Taura. Miles’ old partner Quinn declined her invitation but sends her love, along with a string of pearls that causes Eketerin to fall mysteriously and dangerously ill.  Is it revenge, or is Quinn being framed?  Sergeant Taura and Armsman Roic, eager to redeem himself after the butter bug incident, are on the case.

Roic and Taura are both absolutely excellent in this short story.  Which is good, since the plot – and the chemistry between Miles and Ekaterin – often leaves much to be desired.  Fortunately, watching Roic deal with his prejudices, and seeing Taura learn to be confident even in social situations, makes up for any other shortcomings this story may have.

cover image for A Civil CampaignA Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold

Love is in the air.  Miles is in love, again.  This time around, the object of his affection has recently made it out of a disastrous marriage and isn’t eager to be courted again.  Mark is also in love, but now that they’re back on still-recovering-from-the-Time-of-Isolation Barrayar, he and his sweetheart can no longer be lovers in truth – unless they marry. Assuming her father would give permission. Gregor is in love as well, but at least he’s already engaged and soon to be married – which has the entire capitol in a frenzy over the preparations.

I may have possibly enjoyed this book slightly more than it deserved, as I loved watching Bujold play with Romance tropes.  It was rather entertaining to see the many ways in which couples got together, not all of them traditional.  There were plenty of funny and clever bits as well, and all of the characters felt very much themselves.

Captain Vorpatril's AllianceCaptain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold

If Captain Ivan Vorpatril had his way, his life would be free of both drama and politics.  Unfortunately for Ivan, he’s related to the Vorkosigans, none of whom – his cousin Miles in particular – could be considered restful or a-political.  On top of that, his mother is putting even more pressure on him than normal to settle down and give her a grandchild or two.  So Ivan is less than pleased when Byerly Vorrutyer shows up on his doorstep with a special project for him: befriending a young woman who may be in danger.  He really doesn’t need to get involved in anything that might result in being shot at. Again. But Ivan has never been one to turn down a damsel in distress.

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is occasionally ridiculous, but generally entertaining.  It’s also rather nice seeing things from Ivan’s point of view for a change.  That said, I have no idea why this novel was nominated for a Hugo.  (Other than fan affection for the author and series.)

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1 Response to "Reading Round-up 2013: week 24"

You should write longer reviews of these! (perhaps you already have). Ian Sales runs a review collating site for pre-2000 SF works by female authors. You should submit any 500+ word reviews that fit the chronological requirement to him!

http://sfmistressworks.wordpress.com

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