Ethan Urquhart, Chief of Biology at the Severin District's Reproductive Centre, is at a cross-roads. Well-respected in his field, his career is progressing perfectly. Well, except for the small matter of faulty, aging germ lines. Unfortunately, his personal life is a mess - the way his Designated Alternative Janos (son of Ethan's own father's DA) has been carrying on, Ethan will never accumulate enough social duty credits to allow the son he so desperately wants. When the chair of the Population Council outlines the attributes needed for an ambassador, a brave soul who must leave the security of Athos for Out There to uncover what happened to a precious cargo order, Ethan is the only appropriate candidate.
Unlike the rest of the series, Ethan of Athos does not feature Miles Vorkosigan, though former shipmate Elli Quinn plays a significant role in this highly enjoyable romp. Yes, I said it! This is a romp in the truest sense of the world - a pure, escapist, enjoyable delight of a novel that is unpredictable but coherent. This by no means indicates that Ethan of Athos is purely fluffy - the plot is substantive, the protagonist undergoes significant change, and a number of philosophically interesting questions are raised. However, such is the strength and skill of McMaster's writing that she can combine these more serious elements with light ones to create an overwhelmingly joyous novel. - Alex