This is probably my second favorite novel in the whole series and it was the first one I’d ever heard about. It came out in 2013 and was listed in a Buzzfeed preview list and the enthusiasm of the review made me really interested in the series. It’s funny too because the novel is a departure from most of the rest of the books. Here we have Miles’s cousin Ivan Vorpatrail, familiar to regular readers in his ancillary role. Ivan is a foil to Miles in many ways. He’s a rules-follower, he’s tall and handsome and a more traditional ladies-man (Miles is a ladies man too, but he sneaks up on their attraction to him through his wit, intelligence, and confidence; Ivan is handsome and charming). Ivan is not ambitious and wants it to stay that way. Born on the same day as Miles during the pretendership reign of the false emperor and newborn witness to his father’s illegal execution, Ivan has always wanted a simple life as compared to the not nearly as removed possible heir to the empire he is.
On assignment as aide du camp to an admiral on Komarr, Ivan is approached by slimy social worm (and imperial spy) Byerly Vorrutyer to be a kind of lookout or bodyguard to a mysterious and beautiful new arrival on Komarr. When Miles finds her and is invited into her flat, he is shot by a stunner, and it goes from there.
I wouldn’t want to say anything more about the plot other than it’s great because this novel pulls so many past threads together and is a deeply fun and satisfying book if you’ve read the previous installments.