It’s not hard to understand why the Vorkosigan Saga has been going on so long. Simply put, Miles Vorkosigan may be the single most engaging character in all science fiction. Consider, for example, how his bodyguard and valet, Armsman Roic, thinks of him. “It was hard to tell, sometimes,” Roic thinks, “if m’lord’s style was the result of single-minded dedication to duty, habits of overweening Vor privilege, or simple insanity.” And then there’s Miles himself, asking, “‘What if my children find out I’m not really a grownup? How dreadfully disappointed would they be?'” So, it’s appropriate to ask, Who is Miles Vorkosigan?
Who is Miles Vorkosigan?
So who is this guy, Miles Vorkosigan? He is, first of all, endlessly complex. In Cryoburn, the 15th book in the Vorkosigan Saga, Miles is just shy of 38 years of age. He is, by today’s standards, a dwarf, standing roughly 4’9″ tall. He is the son of two uniquely remarkable people: Count Aral Vorkosigan, a retired admiral and former Regent of the Barrayaran Empire, and Lady Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan. She had met the admiral on the battlefield when she was serving as a captain in the enemy military of an advanced planetary civilization.
Cryoburn (Vorkosigan Saga #15) by Lois McMaster Bujold (2013) 352 pages @@@@@ (5 out of 5)
Crippled and stunted in utero, Miles had nonetheless inherited both the brilliance of his mother and the military genius of his famous father. And before he had even turned 20, he was working undercover for the Barrayaran Imperial Security. Seizing an opportunity, he had assumed the identity of Admiral Miles Naismith, commanding the Dendarii Mercenary fleet. As an ImpSec agent, his job was to find creative ways to head off challenges to the Empire around the galaxy, and he proved to be good at it. Now, long retired from life as a mercenary, Miles is one of a handful of Imperial Auditors reporting directly to Emperor Gregor Vorbarra. His job as Gregor’s leading galactic troubleshooter has taken him to the planet of Kibou-daini.
A nefarious plot to undermine the Empire
Gregor had sent Miles to Kibou because one of its leading corporations was opening a suspicious new business on Komarra, one of the three planets in the Barrayaran Empire. That company, known as WhiteCrys, operated hundreds of thousands of underground cryogenic facilities on Kibou where terminally ill people had been frozen. But, just as Miles begins to understand WhiteCrys’s nefarious plot to undermine Komarran society and thus the Empire, he learns that an even bigger scandal is in the offing on Kibou. And digging out the truth behind both mysteries will (as usual) test Miles’s resourcefulness to the fullest and threaten his life more than once.
Sheer pleasure to read
Every one of the Vorkosigan Saga novels is strong on character development. But, in Cryoburn, author Lois McMaster Bujold has reached a new high in her portrayal of two children who become involved in Miles’s investigation. Eleven-year-old Jin and his seven-year-old sister both leap off the page as fully believable young people, with all the quirks and crankiness of people their age anywhere. The two play large roles in this story, and they enliven it considerably. It’s a sheer pleasure to read. And in portraying his relationships with them, it casts a strong light on answering the question, Who is Miles Vorkosigan?
For further reading
You’ll find links to my reviews of 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).
You might also check out Top 10 great popular novels reviewed on this site.
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