Led by Admiral Naismith (a.k.a. Lord Miles Vorkosigan), the Dendarii Mercenaries have pulled off the daring interspace rescue of an entire Cetagandan POW camp. But they have made some deadly enemies. Having finally outrun the infuriated Cetagandans, the Dendarii arrive on Earth for battle, shuttle repair, and a well deserved rest. But Miles realizes he's in trouble again. First the Mercenaries' payroll doesn't arrive on time, and then someone tries to murder him. Now Miles must juggle both his identities at once to unravel the complicated plot against him, and to reveal an unexpected ally. Just who is trying to assassinate which of his personas, and why?
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I hope someday Audible publishes the whole series (or at least numbers them), in the
meanwhile, here is something that might be useful.
The Vorkosigan Saga, in series order:
- Dreamweaver's Dilemma
- Falling Free
- Shards of Honor
- The Warrior's Apprentice
- The Mountains of Mourning (included in Borders of Infinity)
- The Vor Game
- Ethan of Athos
- Labyrinth (included in Borders of Infinity)
- The Borders of Infinity
- Brothers in Arms
- Mirror Dance (1994)
- Memory (1996)
- Komarr (1998)
- A Civil Campaign
- Winterfair Gifts
- Diplomatic Immunity
In truth you can skip around, but it's more fun if you kindof read these in order.
Suspenseful and Funny Character-Driven Space Opera
In the beginning of Brother in Arms (1989), the fourth novel in Lois McMaster Bujold's popular science fiction series about Miles Vorkosigan, Miles and the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet he heads under the fake identity of Admiral Naismith have limped into orbit around earth to repair their ships and restore health to their personnel. Miles' first visit to earth is immediately plagued by a host of prickly problems. First, the Dendarii may still be being pursued by assassins sent by the Cetagandan Empire to exact revenge on Admiral Naismith for the covert action the Dendarii recently conducted against Cetaganda. Second, the money owed the Dendarii by the Barrayaran Empire for that contract hasn't been paid, leaving the mercenary company on the edge of bankruptcy. Third, in his true identity as Lieutenant Miles Vorkosigan of the Barrayaran military, Miles must report to Captain Galeni of the Barrayaran Embassy, which has a mole who might be Galeni. Fourth, Miles must decide how far to take his relationship with the beautiful Dendarii Comander Elli Quinn, his right-hand woman and bodyguard. Beneath those problems Miles' lugs his perennial baggage: at age 24 he's only 4' 9" with an over-sized head and brittle bones, which (he believes) leads many of his fellow Barrayarans to figure that his military career is due to nepotism because his father is the Prime Minister of the Barrayaran Empire, or that he should have been killed at birth as a mutant.
As the novel progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for Miles to keep his two incompatible identities secret and separate. How much of Miles is Admiral Naismith? How much is Lieutenant Vokosigan? How much is Miles? Early in the novel Miles is forced to ad-lib a clever cover story: Admiral Naismith is Lieutenant Vorkosigan's clone, created by the Cetagandans to cause trouble for their Barrayaran rivals. Needless to say, the fabrication has intriguing unintended consequences.
Miles is a wonderful protagonist: witty, clever, cocky, insecure, unflappable, empathetic, insubordinate, and loyal. No action hero, throwing a punch would break every bone in his hand. Instead, he relies on his chutzpah, brains, knack for improvisation, and facility with falsehood to get out of sticky situations that are dangerous to his fragile body and to his Barrayaran home culture.
The reader of the audiobook, Grover Gardener has a dry and articulate voice ideal for Bujold's witty writing. In the text, Bujold writes Miles' impertinent and caustic thoughts in italics, without writing, "he thought," and Gardener is skillful at subtly indicating those italics when Miles is thinking something subversive or rude rather than speaking it.
Through the plot strand about Miles' dual identity, Bujold threads plenty of the espionage, kidnappings, rescues, showdowns, family dynamics, and witty dialogue spawned by the galactic history and politics of her fictional universe, in which human beings have dispersed over the millennia from earth into competing cultures on different worlds in different solar systems linked by a limited number of rapid transit wormholes. Bujold does not write sublime space opera ala Iain Banks or Alistair Reynolds, mostly ignoring the wonders of nature and mind-boggling scales of size, time, or space. She also does not write hard science fiction, leaving the scientific workings of her advanced technology unexplained. Instead, she writes fast-paced, suspenseful, and funny space opera driven by appealing and psychologically believable characters and by interesting and politically believable cultures.