The setting of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga is utterly fantastic, and the circumstances not to be believed. This is, after all, space opera, but it isn’t your grandfather’s space opera. Character development shines here. Of course, the denizens of this far-future universe aren’t real people, but they seem like they might be, given more than a thousand years of human evolution. The characters in these novels are three-dimensional figures who act in ways that are indisputably human. And Bujold outdoes herself in Mirror Dance, the most ambitious novel in the series.
In this ninth entry in the Vorkosigan Saga, Miles’ clone-brother, Mark, comes into his own. He takes center stage throughout much of the novel. In a sense, though Mark was introduced in the preceding book, Brothers in Arms, this is his coming-of-age story. We follow his development from antagonist to collaborator, through a long series of conflicts and adventures that force him to grow. We learned in Brothers in Arms that Mark was designed and raised on the criminal planet Jackson’s Whole to impersonate Miles and eventually worm his way onto the throne of the Barrayaran Empire. In that book, the two brothers finally met.
Mirror Dance (Vorkosigan Saga #9) by Lois McMaster Bujold (1995) 392 pages @@@@@ (5 out of 5)
Character development outstanding in this novel
Now, as Mirror Dance opens, Miles is away from his fleet, engaged on business in his guise as Admiral Miles Naismith of the Dendarii Mercenaries. Mark seizes the opportunity to commandeer one of Miles’ warships and sets out on a mission to avenge the crimes committed against him on Jackson’s Whole. The two brothers come together again when Mark’s mission has gone awry, as is so often the case with so many of their adventures.
Lois McMaster Bujold is an American science fiction writer who rivals Robert Heinlein in the number of major awards she has won for her work. The first book in the Vorkosigan Saga, Shards of Honor, was published in 1986. The most recent appeared in May 2018. Apparently, then, we can hope for many more installments in this charming series of novels.
For further reading
I previously reviewed Brothers in Arms at An interstellar adventure story in the award-winning Vorkosigan Saga. And you’ll find all the books in the Vorkosigan Saga at The pleasures of reading the complete Vorkosigan Saga.
For more good reading, check out:
- The ultimate guide to the all-time best science fiction novels;
- Great sci-fi novels reviewed: my top 10 (plus dozens of runners-up); and
- The top 10 dystopian novels reviewed here (plus dozens of others).
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