Jump to content
Werthead

The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

Recommended Posts

Well, I do hope she gets better then. I'm not far enough along to really know. Just at the end of Barrayar she was pretty much overthrowing Vor tradition to save her son, without a whole lot of concern about the political or familial turmoil that was creating. she stood up to the father-in-law, who tried to kill Miles, and cut him out of the family (with Aral going along with it of course) making a big deal about cutting ties with him and moving away from him. There was no hesitation there... he was gone. But then the next book starts with Miles as a teenager and the old guy living there saying rude things to the kid and Cordelia just rolling her eyes and letting him have his way. I just didn't buy it, people don't make those kinds of 180 degree shifts in my experience. And while I do feel that the parents do take a very hands off approach to parenting, I still think this was a glaring problem in character development. for me at least!

so, we'll see. I'll keep reading and see if it gets better. at this point, she's barely mentioned so its a moot point I suppose.

Well, let's just put it this way as someone who has had those kind of "cut that person out" family feuds many, many times. Sometimes given a couple of years or a decade, people mellow, or try to find some sort of compromise. The main issue is often that the middle part gets cut out. And frankly, cutting people off completely from the family for ever like that is often tiring.

While old Count Piotr Vorkosigan was certainly mean to Miles, he was also the first one to get him onto a horse, and Miles often remember that it was a turning point for him and an almost magical moment. It seems to me that the relationship between Miles and his grandfather certainly wasn't ideal, but it wasn't all negatives either.

Edited by Lyanna Stark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I do hope she gets better then. I'm not far enough along to really know. Just at the end of Barrayar she was pretty much overthrowing Vor tradition to save her son, without a whole lot of concern about the political or familial turmoil that was creating. she stood up to the father-in-law, who tried to kill Miles, and cut him out of the family (with Aral going along with it of course) making a big deal about cutting ties with him and moving away from him. There was no hesitation there... he was gone. But then the next book starts with Miles as a teenager and the old guy living there saying rude things to the kid and Cordelia just rolling her eyes and letting him have his way.

I think you are misremembering. Barrayar ends with the reconciliation of Piotr and Cordelia -- she lets him teach Miles assuming Bothari comes along.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Book 10: Komarr

Komarr, second world of the Barrayaran Empire, is slowly being terraformed over the course of centuries. Key to the terraforming effort is an orbiting soletta, a massive mirror which increases the amount of sunlight being directed onto the surface. When the soletta is damaged by a spacecraft collision, the future viability of the planet is put in jeopardy. Newly-anointed Imperial Adjudicator Miles Vorkosigan is sent to investigate whether this was an accident or deliberate sabotage.

Komarr is the first novel in the series to focus on Miles Vorkosigan in his new role as an Imperial Adjudicator. Bujold wanted to freshen things up by taking Miles away from his support network of thousands of loyal soldiers and a fleet of powerful starships and it's a move that could have been mishandled. The loss of most of Miles's supporting cast from the Dendarii Mercenaries (who only warrant cameo appearances and the occasional mention from now on) is a blow and it was initially unclear if Miles as a (mostly) solo investigator is a compelling enough idea to replace the military SF feel of the earlier novels.

Komarr lays those fears to rest. This a well-written, crisply-paced and masterfully characterised novel. Bujold develops a new POV character in the form of Ekaterin Vorsoisson, a young woman and mother married to a difficult husband involved in the terraforming project. Komarr has the reputation of being a "romance novel", with Ekaterin brought in as a serious love interest for Miles, whose relationships up until now have mostly been more like casual flings and friends-with-benefits arrangements. However, it would be a serious mistake to dismiss Komarr as a light or frivolous book because of this.

Instead, Komarr is a serious book about adult relationships, motivations and fulfilment, and it layers those themes into a thriller storyline involving betrayal, murder and intrigue. Bujold has said she enjoys writing about "grown-ups", and the romance in the novel is between two adults who have been through the wars (literally and figuratively) and find something in each other they like and respect, but have to overcome personal issues before they can turn that mutual attraction into something more tangible. It's an approach rooted in character that works effectively without overshadowing the SF thriller storyline, which has all the required twists and turns of a solid mystery before Miles and Ekaterin can resolve the problem.

Komarr (****) is a solid entry in The Vorkosigan Saga which sets the books on a new course and does so effectively. It is available now as part of the Miles in Love omnibus (UK, USA).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Komarr is exactly as you say, Wert, a fully adult book. Still a fantasy, but an adult-concern oriented fantasy, and the series never returns to the Space-Opera Adventure Stories for Boys and Girls that the earlier works in the series were.



I think that Bujold did a good job of pivoting her characters and plots. Miles is recognizably Miles, but now he has something other than ambition driving his life. And while the latter books are not as exciting and suspenseful in the way that the earlier stories were, her command of her craft means that they are well-built stories that pull the reader along into situations that her earlier, less developed skills would not have been able to successfully execute.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ekaterin is an interesting character to put alongside Miles as well as she is so markedly different. She's also completely different from any other love interest Miles has ever run into since he tended to go for the awesome combat women busy kicking ass (or the otherwordly and beautiful but haughty Cetagandans). Instead we have someone thoughtful, rather quiet and melancholy with her own brand of competence which is in a completely different area to mercenary warfare or the military.





Komarr is exactly as you say, Wert, a fully adult book. Still a fantasy, but an adult-concern oriented fantasy, and the series never returns to the Space-Opera Adventure Stories for Boys and Girls that the earlier works in the series were.





Indeed, that is a very good description of it. Miles also eventually grew up, it seems. :)


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should this thread be treated as a general Bujold thread? Because Lois has written a new Chalion / World of 5 Gods (as she is calling it now) novella. Penric's Demon, 35k words, ebook soon it sounds. On that Goodreads link in the comments she talks about her semi-retirement basically meaning she writes what she wants whenever and without contract before it is written, and cut back (or maybe completely) on travelling and speaking..


Edited by SpaceChampion

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am so excited about this new novella. While I think Miles and Ekaterin are some of my favourite characters, the Chalion series is exactly to my taste.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should this thread be treated as a general Bujold thread? Because Lois has written a new Chalion / World of 5 Gods (as she is calling it now) novella. Penric's Demon, 35k words, ebook soon it sounds. On that Goodreads link in the comments she talks about her semi-retirement basically meaning she writes what she wants whenever and without contract before it is written, and cut back (or maybe completely) on travelling and speaking..

That is cool news - thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[url=http://thewertzone.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/a-civil-campaign-by-lois-mcmaster-bujold.html][b][i]Book 11: A Civil Campaign[/i][/b][/url]

 

Gregor Vorbarra, Emperor of Barrayar, is due to wed Laisa, an heiress from the (reluctant) Imperial client-world of Komarr. For the Emperor's diminutive cousin Miles Vorkosigan, the great social event provides the perfect cover for his courtship of the Lady Ekaterin Vorsoisson. Unfortunately, events are complicated by the complicated love life of Miles's clone-brother Mark, two landmark legal disputes in the Barrayaran Court...and a whole ton of butter-producing bugs.

A Civil Campaign (subtitled A Comedy of Biology and Manners) was originally conceived by Lois McMaster Bujold as the second half of Komarr. However, she separated the two books out for reasons of length (A Civil Campaign is the longest novel in the series by itself) and also for tone. Komarr is a serious book but A Civil Campaign is a romantic comedy that at times descends into flat-out farce.

It's hard enough to carry off romance or comedy or science fiction by themselves, so for Bujold to tackle all three genres in the same novel suggests either cast-iron confidence or outright insanity. After completing the book, the key to its success seems to be a bit of both. A Civil Campaign is flat-out crazy, a dramatic change in tone from the rest of the series to date. For starters, the novel has five POV characters, which is unusual given that most books in the series have just one, Miles himself. This novel adds Mark, Ivan, Kareen Koudelka (Mark's own romantic interest) and Ekaterin to the mix. This makes for a busier and more tonally varied novel than any of the preceding ones. Even more interesting is how Bujold mixes up the POV storylines: the normally frivolous Ivan gets the serious, political stuff to deal with whilst the emotionally-scarred, PTSD-suffering Mark gets the farcical butter-bug storyline to handle. Expectations are subverted throughout with great skill.

Most intriguingly, this is a novel about adults, relationships and how damaged people can help (or hurt, if they are not careful) one another or choose their own paths through life. Through comedy, tragedy, horror and humour, Bujold builds up each of her POV characters (and numerous supporting ones) and deconstructs them in a manner that is impressive and enjoyable to read.

That said, a key subplot revolves around a disputed succession between a dead lord's daughter and nephew, with Barrayar's laws of male inheritance favouring his nephew...until his daughter gets a sex-change. The resulting legal maelstrom is the result of a collision between fantasy cliche and common sense (and Barrayar has always felt it had more in common with Westeros than an SF setting) and signals an impending transformation in the planet's social order. It's also - arguably - the novel's sole misstep, with Bujold uncharacteristically more interested in the legal and political ramifications rather than the character-based ones. That isn't to say that Donna/Dono isn't a fascinating character, but it feels like Bujold did not engage with the issues raised by the gender reassignment with as much as depth as she might have done.

There is some action in the book (a single shoot-out, which feels a bit incongruous given the tone of the novel, and a more farcical, Bugsy Malone-esque battle sequence involving tubs of bug-butter) but primarily A Civil Campaign (****½) is a comedy of manners, a grown-up romance and a great big coming-together of almost every major subplot and character in The Vorkosigan Saga to date. It's a terrific read and is available now as part of the Miles in Love omnibus (UK, USA).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I felt like this book really drove home the fact that Miles is very, very fortunate in his universe of friends and relatives.  Although this is a fictional universe, Miles' character comes with a galaxy of secondary players who can be, and in this book are, revealed to be people of their own, and not just servants to the plot of Miles' success.

 

And yet, Miles' success is a by-product of all those around him who care for him.  We should all be so lucky as to have even one friend as good as somebody in a Vorkosigan story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[b][i][url=http://thewertzone.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/winterfair-gifts-by-lois-mcmaster-bujold.html]Novella 4: Winterfair Gifts[/url][/b][/i]

 

Winterfair on Barrayar and the unthinkable is happening: Miles Vorkosigan is getting married. For his family this is a time of great happiness and joy. For Armsman Roic, one of Miles's long-suffering security officers, it's a time of paranoia, vigilance and stress. When things start to go wrong, Roic joins forces with one of Miles's old Dendarii comrades to ensure that the wedding goes off without a hitch.

Winterfair Gifts is a short novella set after the events of A Civil Campaign. It centres on Roic, a minor supporting character most notable at this point for engaging in combat with overzealous offworld security officers whilst half-naked and covered in butter (produced by insectoids from another planet, but that's another story). The novella actually feels a bit like an apology from Bujold to her character, giving him a chance to shine in his own story.

It's an enjoyable piece, with some laughs, some drama and some pathos in the relationship between Roic and Taura, the genetically-engineered soldier Miles rescued from Jackson's Whole. The drama part of the novel - including an assassination attempt and a dramatic arrest - feels almost tacked on, with much of the pivotal action happening off-page. Bujold's focus is on the two main characters, their development and their unexpected relationship, which is effective and touching.

A minor interlude in the overall Vorkosigan Saga, then, but one that is enjoyable and worth reading. It is available now as part of the Miles in Love omnibus (UK, USA).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My copy of "Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen " has been dispatched. Seriously excited about it. I'm expecting it to arrive Mon / Tues. I intend to spend the day in bed reading.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Book 12: Diplomatic Immunity

Miles Vorkosigan is enjoying his honeymoon...right up to the point that he is diverted to Graf Station in Quaddiespace to sort out a diplomatic mess involving Barrayaran warships, Komarran transports and some missing personnel. What initially appears to be a straightforward mission rapidly escalates into a major incident that threatens to break out into full-scale war.

After several novels in a row concerned primarily with Miles Vorkosigan's character development, Diplomatic Immunity sees Lois McMaster Bujold returning to something of a more "normal" approach for the series. She sets up a series of interconnecting mysteries built around some interesting SF ideas and then sets Miles loose to investigate and resolve the situation with a (relative) minimum of fuss. This time around Miles is accompanied by his wife, Ekaterin, and reunited with one of his old Dendarii compatriots, but for the most part it's Miles doing what Miles does best: fast-talking, quick-thinking and having a lot of fun in the process.

The novel is also a bit of a sequel to one of Bujold's earlier novels, Falling Free, which is set in the Vorkosigan universe but is not part of the core series. That book explored the development of the quaddies, humans genetically engineered to best exploit freefall by being given an extra pair of arms and hands instead of legs. Diplomatic Immunity also catches up with the quaddies and reveals what has become of their society in theĀ  intervening two centuries (Falling Free accompanies Diplomatic Immunity in the omnibus edition).

The book is standard fare for Bujold and Miles: well-written, with some clever ideas, some unexpected twists (the escalation of the situation from a minor drama to a massive diplomatic incident is sudden but convincing) and some nice work in terms of both characterisation and plot. It's a smart novel, although it is a little too reliant on coincidences. We are told repeatedly how obscure, bizarre and off the beaten track Graf Station is, so Miles running into two people he's met in previous adventures purely by chance is a little hard to swallow. Once you move past that, it becomes a more interesting story combining mystery, action and politics.

If Diplomatic Immunity does have a major flaw, it's that it feels a little slight in terms of Miles's own character development in the wake of Mirror Dance, Memory, Komarr and A Civil Campaign. But after a whole series of traumas, it is also kind of fun to see Miels not being put through the emotional or physical wringer so much and just getting on with his job.

Diplomatic Immunity (****) is a fun, enjoyable addition to The Vorkosigan Saga. It is available now as part of the Miles, Mutants and Microbes omnibus (UK, USA).

Edited by Werthead

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×