Saturday, June 1, 2013

eBook Review: Barrayar

Lois McMaster Bujold, Barrayar

Product Details

  • File Size: 544 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005BFIH7M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars (15 customer reviews) 
  • Price: $6.99
1. Short review:  (Amazon rating: 4 out of 5 stars -- I like it.)

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked: A good story, well told. Lois McMaster Bujold writes well. Depending on whether you count Falling Free as part of the series, Barrayar falls third or second in the Saga of Miles Vorkosigan.
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? Roller coaster.
Worth the money.

2.2. What I did not like: The cover above.

2.3. Who I think is the audience: Science fiction fans.

2.4. Is the book appropriate for children to read?  Yes.

2.5. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book? Yes.

2.6. The plot in a nutshell.

     Cordelia Naismith, a Betan, marries Aral Vorkosigan, a Barrayaran, and becomes pregnant with their first child. She tries to settle into life on Barrayar.
     The trouble begins when Aral is named regent to the young emperor, Gregor. Well, he's not the emperor yet. His grandfather, Ezar, lies in bed, slowly expiring. His father, Serge, is dead, and I gather from the side comments the household retainers make about him that that is a good thing. Anyway, old Ezar dies, Gregor becomes emperor, and Aral starts running the gov't.
    A couple of kids in their tweens resolve an argument by a duel. With sabers. One gets pinked too deep and bleeds out. The other is brought to Aral for justice, because 1) the emperor or his Council of Counts made dueling a crime and 2) the boy is Vor and cannot by tried by the common courts.
    Good ol' Aral upholds the law and has the boy beheaded. Mercy droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven but not on Barrayar. As night follows the day, this execution starts a blood feud between House Vorkosigan and the executed boy's Vor house.
    Dead boy's brother retaliates -- didn't see that coming -- with a gas bomb. Cordelia and Aral get a whiff. The gas will kill them if they do not get the antidote. They get the antidote. But the antidote has MAJOR side effects. One is that Aral can no longer father children. Another is that Cordelia cannot carry her baby to term. Cordelia has a Caesarean and the fetus is moved to a Betan uterine replicator. A specialist begins a course of treatment on the fetus to improve its chances for normal development.
    Aral has dead boy's brother beheaded, too. Yeah, that's gonna cool the hot heads and calm the angry.
    Cordelia and Aral slip away to their lake home. Soon, a flyer wobbles in and crashes on their lawn. In the crashed flyer are the head of Imperial Security and the young Emperor Gregor. Following Barrayaran tradition, another Vor has lodged an objection to Aral's regency by storming the Imperial Residence, attempting to kidnap the emperor, and holding hostage the imperial household, including the queen mother.
    Aral orders the Vorkosigan household to scatter. Cordelia takes Gregor and rides with her father-in-law, Piotr, to escape the baddies. A lot of trekking through the hills on horseback with narrow escapes. The parties split off. Gregor goes one way, Cordelia another. She re-unites with Aral.
    While Aral rallies support to the emperor, escapees from the capital straggle in. One of the escapees is the specialist who was treating Cordelia's baby in replicator utero. He tells Cordelia that he left the uterine replicator with six days of fluid. He expects that the rebels will not replenish the fluid. The clock is ticking.
    With two loyal retainers and Aral's reluctant aide-de-camp, Cordelia sets off to rescue her baby. Does. Dramatically so. Captures the Big Bad Meanie his own self. Politely asks one of her retainers to execute him. He does. Rebellion ends.
    Miles is born, and everybody lives happily ever after. Or so it is implied. But we know better.

 2.7. Other:
    The first Vorkosigan story I read was The Borders of Infinity. IMO TBoI ranks among the ten best stories in science fiction.
    The Vor world appears feudal to those raised with recent notions of democracy. The Vors stress personal loyalty. Like the officers of the Royal Army, the Barrayarans swear allegiance to a person. I plan to explore the subject of allegiance in detail in an essay.
    With Barrayar, I felt I was reading a book written by a woman. I never had that feeling with other books in the Vorkosigan series, but the feeling was definite this time.
    The point of view is that of Cordelia. The lock on her is strong. Cannot recall reading another book in which the PoV was as sharp and strong as in Barrayar. That is a compliment. 
    LMB details the chronology of the Vorkosigan series in an Author's Note at the end of the book. Read the series in order. Or not. I haven't. Hasn't made a difference to me.

2.8. Links:
Lois McMaster Bujold
Vorkosigan Saga
Miles Vorkosigan

2.9. Buy the book: Barrayar

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