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Captain Ivan Vorpatril is happy with his relatively uneventful bachelor's life as a staff officer to a Barrayaran admiral. Cousin to imperial troubleshooter Miles Vorkosigan, Ivan is not far down the hereditary list for the emperorship. Thankfully, new heirs have directed that headache elsewhere, leaving Ivan to enjoy his life on Komarr, far from the Byzantine court politics of his home system. But when an old friend in Barrayaran intelligence asks Ivan to protect an attractive young woman who may be on the hit list of a criminal syndicate, his chivalrous nature takes over. It seems danger and adventure have once more found Captain Vorpatril.
Tej Arqua and her half-sister and servant, Rish, are fleeing the violent overthrow of their clan on free-for-all planet Jackson’s Whole. Now it seems Tej may possess a secret of which even she may not be aware - a secret that could corrupt the heart of a highly regarded Barrayaran family and provide the final advantage for the thugs who seek to overthrow Tej’s homeworld. But none of Tej’s formidable adversaries have counted on Ivan Vorpatril. For behind Ivan’s facade of wry and self-effacing humor lies a true and cunning protector who will never leave a distressed lady in the lurch - making the ultimate sacrifice to keep her from harm: the treasured and hard-won freedom from his own fate as a scion of Barrayar.
Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the most honored writers of science fiction and fantasy, having won five Hugo Awards and three Nebula Awards. In 2011 she was awarded the Skylark Award for her significant contributions to science fiction.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Barbara on 11-06-12
We are finally allowed to see Ivan without Miles.
What did you love best about Captain Vorpatril's Alliance?
Ivan Vorpatril is a survivor. Born in the middle of a military coup, hours after his father was killed in front of his very pregnant aristocratic mother, he was swaddled in borrowed blankets and smuggled out of the war zone as part of a refugee family. Although he has grown into a gorgeous "hunk", he has continued to survive through protective coloring. I thought in the first books his character was only included in the Vorkosigan stories as a foil for his cousin Miles, the physically challenged genius, who accidentally founded a whole Army at seventeen years old. Ivan's name in these stories is often followed by "you idiot".It hasn't stopped his relatives for asking for his reluctant help though.. So I LOVE IT, that Ivan is now the hero in this book, without any tricks such as having him turn from a Clark Kent to Superman. Ivan is still the very ordinary young man who has avoided becoming a focus for a coup in his own times, not by becoming a super warrior on a planet of warriors, but by being an average, guy, just not understanding all of the plots and underplots swirling around him. His over achieving relatives sometimes wonder if he is doing it on purpose, and shake their heads and think not, unless he began fading into the background at five. Hard to do when your are taller, and stronger than everyone else around, even at five. These warrior types should have spent more time around five year olds. The little people are very much personalities even at five. Sorry, I feel as if I've watched, a favorite child grow up and become successful. Lois MacMaster Bujold is a great writer to make her characters that real.
What did you like best about this story?
I enjoyed watching Ivan come into his own.
What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?
Grover Gardner is one of those magnificent performer's who sounds as though he is someone you've met. No matter what part of the country your from.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
I enjoyed the whole book, but the last few pages were made me laugh aloud.
Any additional comments?
I hope there will be more stories about the Vor world. This author doesn't leave the reader with cliff hangers, like old fashioned B movies or soap operas. She doesn't have to. Her books are so interesting, that although each book is ended with a logical and satisfying conclusion, her world is full of such interesting people that I hope to meet them as often as possible.
43 of 43 people found this review helpful
By Eivind on 11-07-12
Ivan you Idiot!
“Ivan you idiot!” is a phrase that we have come to love over the years. But Ivan is not really an idiot, he is no Miles for sure, but what he really lacks is not intelligence but rather the driving ambition that keeps Miles going like a deranged Duracell bunny. Instead Ivan has something else, an acute sense of the political ramifications that would fall on his head if he just happened to not be an idiot. He has in a sense a vast driving anti-ambition. Ivan is the second in line to the imperial throne, he is the son-in-law to the almighty Simon Illyan and not to mention his connections to all kinds of powerful people including an immensely political, protective and meddling mother. Something other powerful people would exploit in a heartbeat if they could and if Ivan would only let them. So Ivan the Idiot has over the years developed his own unique way of dealing with all these issues when really all he wants to do is live a quiet ordinary life. In the rooms and on the bridges of the starships where the Big Decisions are handled Ivan has made standing around (with selective amnesia and attention disorder) like the wall-hangings or a part of the décor into an art form. Either that, or solve the whole problem by doing his best to oversleep that day.
This is the story of how Ivan, without Miles’s help I might add, gets into trouble, falls in love and much more when his allergy to intrigue clashes with the old Vor-honor. After all, what can a Vor Lord do when there are damsels in distress about, gorgeous ones at that, with unfortunately a whole lot of familial and familiar baggage themselves?
39 of 40 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Ms. S. Hogan on 12-23-12
Worthy addition to a great series
This is the most recent addition to Lois McMaster Bujold's popular Vorkosigan saga, but it doesn't feature a Vorkosigan protagonist. Instead, "quiet life" Ivan Vorpatril (who tends not to have quite the Vorkosigan larger-than-life quality) gets to take centre stage.
There's a bit of an adventure plot and a slice of a mystery plot, but both of these take backseat to an enjoyable Georgette Heyer-esque romance story, which gives Ivan the opportunity to be a hero / knight errant in his own right. There's a some fun dialogue, and witty asides as Ivan is shocked to find himself in trouble without help from his cousin Miles, which is all very enjoyable. The heart of the story, though, is two people coming to terms with what they themselves want out of life, as opposed to what others expect them to want.
As with others in this series (which I have only listened to as audiobooks-please excuse misspellings of character names), the book is engagingly read by Grover Gardner. I don't want to give away plot details, but the story twisted enough to keep me interested, and whilst this isn't necessarily my favourite of the series, I'm certain I will be wanting to listen to it again at some point. Money (or credits) very well spent!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Andrew John Rae on 07-07-14
Typically Excellent Bujold
This book takes place in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan universe. Like most books in the series it is a completely standalone novel, but readers of other works will recognise references to events and cameo appearances. The main character is Ivan Vorpatril, who plays second fiddle to Miles Vorkosigan in earlier books.
Whilst set in a sci-fi universe with stunners and plasma arcs, this is a very standard Regency Romance. The plot is almost a direct fusion of two of my favorite Georgette Heyer novels (I won't mention which two for fear of spoilers).
If, like me, you enjoy sci-fi based on character development and interaction then I recommend this as an undemanding, pleasant listen.
Grover Gardner does his usual workmanlike job of reading. He isn't great with character voices and accents- Ivan speaking sarcastically sounds the same as Miles speaking sarcastically sounds the same as his admiral speaking sarcastically - but he has a lovely reading voice suitable for hours of listening.