“Jole wondered how his personal life had grown so tangled in so short a time. Vorkosigans did that to you, though. Flung you off cliffs, expected you to absorb the flying lessons on the way down. And yet, if some – not good, not evil – if some ambiguity fairy suddenly appeared amidst the screams and offered to undo it all, roll back your life to Go, you would refuse her.”
Spoilers for Lois’s last book, and I doubt this will make any sense for any non-Vorkosigan fans.
I realize that I cannot be objective about Lois books – I love everything she writes. And I know I always have super-high expectations for her stuff. This one was great and wonderful as always, but it also didn’t feel quite as complex as some of the other Vorkosigan books. It’s like, compared to everything else out there, this book is a 10. But compared to Lois’s other books, it might be a 7? There are usually layers upon layers in her stories, and I can reread them several times and still pick up new things. This one felt less layered. It’s kind of like Cetaganda. Lois doesn’t exactly do fluff, but this one wasn’t as dense as I expected. I figured I’d be bawling through the whole thing, since it’s the first Cordelia book post-Aral. I made it through with no tears, though.
Also, it’s weird having Miles in a book without it being a Miles book, if that makes any sense. This is Cordelia’s book, and I love her, but it was hard for me to see Miles through her eyes. He’s such a focus-pulling character; every book wants to be a Miles book. So it felt like a weird disconnect when he showed up and didn’t immediately take over the whole story. There are no point-of-view chapters for him, and I missed him.
However, that’s not to say I didn’t like this book. Of course I liked this book! If I am reading about Vorkosigans, I am happy. There’s not much to this one. It’s three years after Aral’s death (sob), and Cordelia is flirting with some big ideas for her future, as well as with an old friend. Exactly how old a friend Admiral Jole was surprised me, and now I want to go back and reread everything and look for signs of him. There’s some very minor drama about the colonists on the planet Sergyar, but really, there are no big problems to overcome and no real conflicts. That’s why it felt less layered – the stakes were so much lower than usual. But Cordelia has earned a break. And the way this one was set up, there are possible Vorkosigans for generations to come, which can only mean good things for the universe.