Don’t read this review if you don’t want spoilers!
This book, the most recent full length novel in the Vorkosigan series is among the very best. That’s the review part!
I know it’s been ten years but I was completely caught off guard the first time I read Cryoburn at the death of Aral Vorkosigan. He wasn’t a beloved character for me, but he was so important to other characters who were beloved, that his death hit me. This book follows up Cryoburn by about 3-4 years and we focus on Cordelia, where we began the whole series. Cordelia is still Barrayar’s imperial head of Sergyar, and we find her meeting with Admiral Oliver Jole, head of Sergyar’s fleet. We also understand from this novel that Jole and Aral were long time lovers, approved of and supported by Cordelia’s Betan sensibilities. Now both past grieving, but still missing Aral the two becomes closer friends when Cordelia tells Jole that she plans to use Aral’s genetic material and her own to create embryos (she’s 76, but Betan live well into their 100s) and would he like a son of his own to raise in honor of their time together. One thing leads to another, and along with the various embryos created the two become lovers themselves.
As the novel moves forward, there’s not a lot of conflict beyond the ways in which the new relationship with be discussed with the different figures in their lives, the legal and social status of the created children, and their potential future together. It’s a sweet and engaging novel for the maturing and aging series. If it were to be the last (and I hope not) it’s a fitting send off, if not an official end point.
It’s oddly like Lois McMaster Bujold is making her own Our Souls at Night, but less somber.