Winterfair Gifts highlights the characters worthy of Shakespeare around Miles Vorkosigan.

The charm of Lois McMaster Bujold‘s Vorkosigan Saga derives not just from the enduring attraction of its central figure, the brilliant and confounding Miles Vorkosigan—”the little Admiral,” the beguiling dwarf with a taste for (very) tall women. Equally appealing is the fascinating cast of supporting actors in this long-running drama: his parents, Lord Regent Aral Vorkosigan and Lady Cordelia Vorkosigan, formidable Aunt Alys, clone brother Mark, foster-brother the Emperor Gregor, tall and handsome cousin Ivan, terrifying long–time boss Simon Illyan of Imperial Security, and the many, many others who follow Miles through the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet and the endless twists and turns of Barrayaran politics. Here is a cast of characters worthy of Shakespeare.

Winterfair Gifts (Vorkosigan Saga #12.1) by Lois McMaster Bujold (2011) 73 pages @@@@@ (5 out of 5)

Characters worthy of Shakespeare enliven this compelling series

Typically, in the many novels and novellas that comprise the Vorkosigan Saga, Bujold shifts perspective from one character to another. Winterfair Gifts is an exception. In this short tale, more novelette than novella, a minor character holds center stage. Armsman Roic is a new member of Miles’ retinue of twenty armsmen who have sworn allegiance to protect him with their lives. A veteran of less than a year in his post, he has been given the least desirable assignment of staying at Vorkosigan House as a sort of doorkeeper while others guard Miles or the members of his family. But the occasion is one of historic importance in Barrayar, and Roic will be put to the test as never before.

Miles is getting married!

Now in his thirties, Miles is—against all odds—about to be married, and the wedding will take place in days at Vorkosigan House itself. The event will be an intimate affair, with only 120 in attendance, including the Emperor and Empress. It’s serving as a reunion of sorts for most of the remarkable characters who have played outsized roles in Miles’ life. And none of them is more remarkable (or more outsized) than the eight-foot-tall genetically engineered supersoldier Sergeant Taura, one of Miles’ former colleagues in arms and lovers. Roic is unusually tall but is flummoxed to find himself staring straight ahead into Taura’s chest when she arrives for the wedding.

As the hour of the wedding approaches, the armsman and the supersoldier will play heroic roles—and become romantically involved in the process. And therein lies the tale.

For further reading

See The pleasures of reading the complete Vorkosigan Saga for a full list of the stories in chronological order in this compelling space opera series.

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