Book Review – Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

  • Title: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/17/2019

Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles VorKosigan series has always been one of my favorites. The books are funny, poignant, and quick reads. This story takes place three years after the death of Aral VorKosigan, Cordelia’s husband and Miles’ father. Miles is now Count VorKosigan and living on Barrayar with his wife and five children. Widowed Cordelia is the Vicereine of Sergyar – the planet where she and Aral met so many years ago. Admiral Oliver Jole is a close friend of the family. It turns out that Aral was bisexual and Oliver was his lover for over 20 years, with Cordelia’s permission. The trio had even experimented with being a threesome, but only somewhat successfully.

Oliver and Cordelia cross paths on Sergyar and quickly renew their friendship and then become “friends with benefits”. Cordelia also takes frozen gametes to the Reproduction Center on Sergyar and gets herself six new daughters-to-be. She has one placed in a Uterine Replicator and the rest frozen for later use. She also has some leftover “eggshells” from the process – which she donates to Jole. Jole will initially freeze these genetic specimens but eventually decide to have three boys of his own using the Rep Center’s advanced technology.

Cordelia and Oliver date, sleep together, and try to figure out what they will do with their lives. Cordelia decides she will retire as Vicereine to raise her new daughters. Admiral Jole is offered a plum promotion to Chief of Operations for the Barrayarian Military, a post he eventually turns down so he can retire with Cordelia and raise his own new family.

Miles arrives with his wife and children to find out what is going on with his mother. It takes a little while but eventually Cordelia explains she’s sleeping with Jole, she is going to use tech to have six daughters with Aral and eventually Oliver tells Miles’ about his own family plans. It takes Miles a little while to absorb all this but he eventually adapts and he’s happy about his mother’s happiness.

I enjoyed this book – it starts a little slow, but speeds up once Miles finally arrives (with wife, five children, and nannies in tow). The scenes at Jole’s birthday picnic are marvelous. There’s also a more technical plot with moving Sergyar’s capital city away from a Volcanic Zone to someplace more temperate and suitable to living. This almost functions as a McGuffin as it functions as an excuse for furthering the plot. The book is really about the people: Cordelia, Jole, Miles, and the people around them. This book also really feels like it’s a conclusion to the entire Miles VorKosigan series, letting the reader know all the characters are OK and will be happy, even after Aral’s death. Still, it’s an enjoyable read and highly recommended. This volume isn’t really stand-alone as it refers back to various events throughout the entire Miles VorKosigan series of books. Recommended.

Book Review – Captain VorPatril’s Alliance

  • Title: Captain VorPatril’s Alliance
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 01/02/2014

I’ve been a fan of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan novels since a friend handed me a well-worn paperback copy of Shards of Honor and said “Read this,” and I did, then read my own copy many times. I’ve eagerly devoured every new novel in the series since. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, however, isn’t about Miles, but rather his cousin, Ivan, the one often referred to as “that idiot Ivan”. However, this novel is entirely from Ivan’s point of view, and it is extremely funny.

The end of Chapter 6, literally had me laughing out loud. I know it’s common to describe something very funny as LOL, but seriously – I laughed, out loud, as Ivan manages to get himself accidentally married to get himself and a female friend out of a spot of bother, as well as her “maid”.

The rest of the novel follows Ivan and his new spouse, Tej back to Barrayar. Just as they are getting used to their new life, Barrayaran politics, and Ivan’s family and extended relatives, the novel’s second surprise arrives – which I won’t spoil.

I finished this novel late last night, or should I say, early this morning, and it’s been a long time since I’ve stayed up that late to finish a book.

Needless to say, it’s a brilliant, funny, fun, adventurous, wonderful tale, and I highly recommend it.

Book Review – CryoBurn

  • Title: CryoBurn
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/13/2012

Update: This is a little different than most of my book reviews. It’s from a blog I had on a blogging platform that, for all practical purposes, no longer exists. And it was my first reaction upon finishing the book. But I’m presenting it as is, except for fixing a couple of typos and formatting the post to meet WordPress specifications. Other than this update paragraph, the rest is my original post. Enjoy!

MAJOR SPOILERS

Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold is Lois’s first new Miles Vorkosigan novel in years. And it’s really good, as all her Miles novels — is has a mystery, action, and humor. The book has less humor than other books, however, especially A Civil Campaign, which I would have wondered about until I got to the end — where the book hits you with a kick in the teeth.

MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW

The last line of the novel proper, is a chilling kick in the teeth that both made me want another Miles novel to read immediately — and saying, aloud, “Oh my god, no.” And since it’s at the end of the novel, there’s no time to see how Miles will react.

Miles and Mark, his clone brother, are sitting in the Escobar jump-point station, when they notice a Barrayaran courier in military dress greens. Neither thinks this is all that unusual, and Miles is even silently cursing the courier in a way because he assumes it’s a new mission from Emperor Gregor and he wants to go home to see his wife and child. The courier comes over and greets Miles by saying, “Count Vorkosigan, sir.”

No, seriously, that’s the end — if it hadn’t been for the afterword of 5 drabbles I would have totally freaked.

As it was, I was, seriously, saying “oh, god, no…” aloud to myself. And “Poor Miles” too — and the hardest part, besides the fact that Miles and Mark had been discussing their father the Count just before, was that it was, well, two things — Miles wasn’t being allowed time to mourn his father before being thrust into his shoes, and Miles would be entering yet another completely new phase of his life — because as Count Vorkosigan, he can’t still be Imperial Auditor.

And the thing is that for Miles — Aral wasn’t “Count Vorkosigan”, or “The Viceroy of Sergyar”, or “The Butcher of Komarr”, or Emperor Gregor’s right-hand man, or even a military genius — for Miles, Aral was his father. His Da’. Someone Miles loves.

Not that Miles doesn’t know all of his father’s history (or his mother’s for that matter), but to them they are both his parents first and foremost. I found it so painful to think of the ramifications of just those three little words, by anonymous courier in official Barrayaran dress greens, addressed to Miles — meant his entire life was going to change and he’d lost his father as well.

END SPOILERS

But damn do I want a sequel! I want to see what happens to Miles — and what Gregor does with him now.

For another note. Miles also doesn’t seem to really see himself as Lord Vorkosigan either — but as Miles. Neither does he realise that while he’s going at Warp 10, everyone else is going Warp 1, if that. This is a man, who, attempted to get into the military academy on his home planet by asking that his written exam scores be averaged against his physical scores. Because his written scores would be so HIGH they’d offset his lack of physical prowess due to his his brittle bones and medical problems.

By the way – I read this as an e-book version in EPUB format on my Sony Reader.