Saturday, May 10, 2014


by Lois McMaster Bujold

Story summary: Miles finally reaches a bit too far, and one of his clever, seemingly-impossible schemes ends as expected for once: badly. He is stripped of what he holds most dear, and his life (as he sees it) is pretty much over. And then on top of this utter misery, things start to go subtly wrong on Barrayar.
See the others in this series: Shards of HonorBarrayarThe Warrior's ApprenticeThe Vor GameCetagandaBrothers in Arms, and Mirror Dance.

Thoughts: Most of my reviews for these books end up seeming rather similar. I exclaim that the book is marvellous, and then gush over the characters for a while. But one of the amazing things about this series is actually how different they are. Their excellent writing and fascinating characters are some of the few things that remain consistent (ignoring the similarities that obviously occur from taking place in the same world and focusing on pretty much the same set of characters). This one was more a psychological study/mystery story with some romance, as opposed to the adventure of the first few books, or the psychological study/adventure of Mirror Dance, or the more straight romance that I gather some of the future books are.
But I am not good enough to analyze it properly (you can see some really good analysis at, though). So here goes the standard gushing:

This one had a lot of focus on Simon Illyan, which I was extremely pleased about. Illyan has been one of my favourites since he was first introduced in Shards of Honor, but there's been less about him than all my other favourite secondary characters (Cordelia, Ivan, and Gregor, mostly). But the main plot of this book centres around him, so he gets lots of character development. Also, Gregor's part in this book was absolutely lovely, and rather hilarious.

I was worried that I wouldn't like the later books in this series as much as the first few, with the emphasis on society and romance as opposed to adventure and frantic cleverness. But I should have trusted. Because, man, I love these books. They are just so good. They have depth and keen insights into human nature as well as lots of humour and adventure. I love almost every character that comes along, and I always finish feeling glowing and satisfied. They are everything I could want in a series. I'm sure they will remain among my favourite books for the rest of my life.

Grade: 5 stars

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