Sunday, July 30, 2017

Scifi/Fantasy Book Review: Cetaganda (Vorkosigan Saga) by Lois McMaster Bujold

Cetaganda is the third (chronologically speaking) book in the Vorkosigan Saga to follow Miles Vorkosigan, here partnered again with his cousin Ivan.  The story follows Miles in his role as ImpSec Lieutenant Vorkosigan - or more accurately as an official envoy of the Barrayaran government sent to observe the Cetagandan Empress' funeral - and does not involve at all the Dendarii Mercenaries.  It's also, like The Warrior's Apprentice, probably a bit too silly for its own good.

This is a stand alone novel in that it doesn't feature any cliffhangers, but you'll be more than a bit lost if you try starting the series here, as the book assumes you'll know about Miles' background going into this one.  So I wouldn't start the series with this one.

Long Review continues after the jump:

-----------------------------------Short Plot Summary-----------------------------------------
In Cetaganda, Miles Vorkosigan and Ivan Vorpatril have been sent to the capital planet of the Cetagandan Empire as envoys to attend the Empress' funeral.  Cetaganda is of course Barrayar's most dangerous enemy and maintains a culture very different from that of Barrayar - the Empire maintains a caste system that structures power based upon social class and very much upon gender - with both genders having very different roles in society.  The Empire also pratices strict control of genetic reproduction, which is very different from the all-natural births of Barrayar.

Upon arriving at the planet, Miles and Ivan are immediately attacked by a mystery stranger, and come away from the encounter with a mysterious artifact.  The artifact turns out to be part of a nefarious plot for control of the Empire by a rogue Cetagandan governor.  Naturally, rather than try to wash his hands of the matter, Miles can't help but try and get more and more involved with solving the situation - even though this more or less involves helping his enemies.  And the conspirators won't hesitate to try to assassinate Miles in order to stop him.

As usual, Bujold's dialogue in this book is absolutely fantastic - you will find it hard not to smile and/or laugh at half of Miles' dialogue/inner-monologue.  It's what makes this series such a joy to read.

That said, this book falls into a bit of silliness that was my problem with The Warrior's Apprentice - like that book, a lot of the problems come from Miles' instincts being so silly and somehow working out ANYHOW, that it's at times hard to believe.  It's a trickly line for Bujold to walk given how Miles' impulsive nature is what drives a lot of the plot of these books - it did so as well in The Vor Game - but I kind of think it feels just a bit too silly in this one.

Again, I enjoyed this book - Miles is still great despite the silliness and Ivan is a fun supporting contrasting character, and Cetagandan society is certainly different and interesting to read about.  But it's still in the second tier of Vorkosigan books for me.

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