Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold.
Baen, $25.00, 428pp, hc, 9781451638455. Science fiction.
What do you do when your quasi-cousin the ImpSec spy shows up at your door in the middle of the night and demands that you figure out who the mysterious, beautiful woman is, and that you protect her from even more mysterious bad guys?
Well, if you’re Captain Lord Ivan Vorpatril on temporary assignment on Komarr, you marry her.
And then you get to know her, find out about her family, and court her in the hopes that she’ll stay.
So begins Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, the newest Vorkosigan Saga Novel, although with Miles making only the briefest of cameos, and the other Vorkosigans completely off stage but for mentions, it might be more appropriately called the first Vorpatril Saga Novel. Nevertheless, it’s a fitting continuation to the much-loved series. Chronologically, the events in this book occur between Diplomatic Immunity and the most-recent Miles novel, Cryoburn.
As we’ve suspected (and several characters have mentioned), it appears that Ivan isn’t quite the fool he plays in public. Rather than adopting Miles’ attitude of conquering the world, Ivan has chosen the path of less resistance: do what you must, fit in, and slide on through. But that hasn’t always worked out, as Miles would frequently pull Ivan into one misadventure after another.
This time, it’s Byerly who’s pulled Ivan into misadventure. But this time, Ivan’s going to pull himself out of it, without Miles’ help. Sure, it’s difficult getting to know your new wife, and even harder to explain away her bejeweled blue quasi-sister, but when the in-laws show up, it becomes an event of empire-shaking proportions.
I could go into the minutiae of the plot: is former ImpSec Chief Simon Illyan really happy with his retirement? Did the departing Cetagandans leave any present when the occupation of Barrayar ended? What happens when a Jacksonian House is overthrown? And are there really moles that are bigger than the cockroaches in Cockroach Central? And there are the cameos by Miles, Gregor, and others. I could, but I don’t have to. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is a worthy continuation of the much-loved Vorkosigan Saga. And it’s a wonderful way to continue the series, knowing that the literary vein of Miles may be tapped out. Now I don’t have to wait for the next Miles novel, wondering what Bujold can do with him; instead, I’ll be waiting for the next Ivan novel, wondering what Bujold will do to him.