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2010-12-06 07:04 pm

The return of Miles Vorkosigan

 As a long-standing fan of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vor Saga I greeted with joy the new (and to me totally unexpected) installment of this series, Cryoburn. The last one, Diplomatic Immunity, had been a little disappointing to say the truth, since it seemed to me that Bujold had somehow lost interest in her wonderful character and said all she wanted to say about him, but happily Cryoburn gave us back the 'old' Miles, and the hope that sometimes in the future we might enjoy more of his adventures.

So I've been able to re-acquaint myself with Miles Vorkosigan and his universe, and he seemed to be back in his prior form, although less impetuous (some might say 'crazy') and more mature. Which is understandable and correct, since the years have gone by and it would be wrong to expect him to stay the same as in the first books. What I liked most was that the old spark of craziness is still there, yet this time it's not acted out by Miles' usual recklessness, but rather observed through the eyes of others, like the faithful armsman Roic (nice character this one!) or the young boy who is Miles' counterpoint throughout this story.

My only complaint with Cryoburn, is that the book seems to end too abruptly, and that it does so on a poignant revelation. One that might have been expected, of course, but still saddened me to no end… And sorry, no spoilers from me!

If you don't know the works of LMB, and this enjoyable space-opera that goes under the title of Vor Saga, you will find here http://www.dendarii.com/biblio.html#timeline  the list of books in internal chronological order.

In short, and in the hope of introducing these much-beloved books to people who still don't know them, Miles Vorkosigan is born with serious physical impediments on a world that makes strength and military prowess the pillars of society. Despite these drawbacks, Miles manages, through sheer force of will and great intelligence, to emerge and carve a place for himself, all the while regaling us with fun, compelling and wonderful adventures.

What I love most about Ms. Bujold's writing is that it's flows along simple lines while at the same time it manages to convey deep meanings, and above all that it's… well, trans-generational: Miles' adventures can be quite satisfying both to young adults (to whom they can teach a great deal without ever being pedantic) and to older people as well. The style of writing is such that it can be enjoyed no matter your age or your preferences.

More important, Miles never looks like those stereotyped "boy geniuses" that we often encounter in books and tv, the ones that breeze through obstacles as if they weren't there, the ones, let's admit it, that we hate. Miles is fallible, he constantly doubts himself and he makes mistakes, sometimes fatal ones. His path is one of constant strife, against his shortcomings and against himself, and his victories are more often than not tainted by painful losses. This, I guess, is one of the reasons Bujold's readers learn to care so much about him, or the people around him. I found a sentence, over at GoodReads, that sums up quite effectively this character: he happens on people - usually unsuspecting ones - and he changes their lives forever, whether they want it or not. This is true both for the fictional persons in the stories and for the readers, and it's an incredible discovery.

As for myself, I think I will start a much-needed re-read of the whole saga. Care to join me?