Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga) by Lois McMaster Bujold
Extras: Brief tutorial from the author on the order in which her books should be read.
Short Review: Intrigue and romance dominate the scene as cousin Ivan finally gets his day in the sun. A great addition to the Vorkosigan series, this time with Miles only in a supporting role. Gardner is still as great as ever.
Long Review: While this book clearly can stand on its own, it will be a particular delight to those who are long time Vorkosigan Saga fans. Always in the past, Ivan has been the straight man to cousin Miles’s crazy mad-cap plans. I always knew he was no idiot, despite frequent claims by many to the contrary.
So this time it is Ivan’s turn. He is minding his own business, keeping his head down and doing his job well (as he is wont to do) when a lovely lady in a bad situation is dropped into his lap. Ever the gentleman and with an eye for how bad things could get if he doesn’t help, Ivan steps in to try and untangle things. The tangle resists simple resolution (this is a Vorkosigan book after all) and the full scale of it stretches from Kommar to Jackson’s Hole to Barrayar. It also stretches back in time, likely to the immense pleasure of hardcore fans as it fills in a few interesting historical tidbits. Even though I sometimes felt like Ivan would have been happier to hand this story over to anyone else, by not too far in he is as captivated as we are by those who need his help.
I smiled a lot during this book. If you have read your way through the Vorkosigan books to this point, there will be a number of familiar faces to enjoy – some in cameos, some with larger roles. I also really enjoyed the new characters – especially the leading lady Tej. Bujold has a knack for creating characters with a balance of flaws and appealing traits that blend into someone you expect you would like to meet in person.
The story has threads of both intrigue and romance. It didn’t have quite the breakneck pace of a Miles novel, but the story suits the characters and is captivating and entertaining.
Grover Gardner is still one of my most favorite audio book readers, and this is just another great example of his artistry. It is always clear who is speaking and his rhythm for the narration is clear and pleasing.
For those who keep track of such things, according to Bujold’s chronology, this book takes place before Cryoburn though it was published after it.