Friday, June 27

Brothers in Arms - Lois McMaster Bujold

His ship badly damaged by the Cetagandans, Miles (as Admiral Naismith) needs repairs, although for some reason funds are in short supply. While trying to work out why ImpSec are dragging their feet, he discovers a clone brother, engineered and trained as part of an assassination plot by the Komarrans. In accordance with Beatn tradition he declared the clone his borther, and tells him that, according to Barrayan tradition, he is entitled to the middle names of his grandfathers. Mark Pierre Vorkosigan, brough up his whole life to hate Miles, is conflicted but helps Miles fool the Cetagandans, who seem to suspect that Miles Vorkosigan and Admiral Naismith are the same person.
As with the rest of the Vorkosigan saga, it is the personal relationships and character development that sets this book apart from more run-of-the-mill space opera. I am particularly captured by Miles' relationship with a brother he never knew he had (and didn't have to claim) - we get to see both men's perspectives, in a situation that is truly unique, and once again appreciate the added complexity Miles' mixed parentage gives him.
This aspect adds depth to an already sophisticated novel - there are half a dozen plots, ranging from the series arc to romantic entanglements (and Miles' chivalry), the mystery of why the Barrayan fee isn't coming through, a beautifully drawn hostage situation in a London bottleshop, the always enjoyable interplay between Miles and his laid back cousin Ivan, near-invisible framework created for books later in the series, shading on the already detailed picture of Barrayan administration and red tape, and insight into the Cetagandan and Komarran mindsets.
As always the standout star is Miles, a complex and charismatic creation who manages to be noble but humanly flawed, shining from a background of intricate, texture and absorbing brilliance. Perhaps this is all too subtle: I love this series! - Alex

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