Friday, October 31, 2014

The Vorkosigan Saga: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance Review

This week I decided to review Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold. When the story begins, Captain Ivan Vorpatril is serving as aide-de-camp to Admiral Desplains on the world of Komarr, which has been controlled by the Barrayaran Imperium, which Ivan serves, for decades.  Byerly Vorrutyer, an informant for Barrayaran intelligence  has infiltrated a group targeting a woman named Tej, and the informant asks Ivan to protect Tej. Ivan goes to where Tej is working at a package shipping business and begins flirting with her, but is rejected. He then follows Tej home, but Tej’s genetically engineered blue-skinned companion Rish stuns him because they think Ivan is working for their enemies. They are still holding Ivan when the real attack force arrives, and Ivan manages to warn them the attack is coming. The group flees to Ivan’s apartment where they are eventually joined by Byerly. It is revealed that Tej is a daughter of the leaders of a powerful major house in the Jackson’s Whole system and on the run after her house fell to a hostile takeover from another major house while Rish is one of a set of genetically engineered performance artists created by Tej’s mother using much of her own DNA. Meanwhile the local cops are seeking Ivan as a person of interest in the disappearance of the two women, while local the local Immigration service wants to arrest Tej and Rish as illegal immigrants Seeing no other way for the group to avoid arrest, Tej and Ivan elope. They then travel to Ivan’s homeworld of Barrayar, planning to get a divorce after which Tej and Rish will travel to Escobar to meet with Tej’s brother, the one member of her family whom they know is safe. But the sham marriage begins to become more, this being aided by the fact that their petition for a divorce is rejected on the grounds that neither spouse has done anything to the other to justify a divorce. And then good news leads to even more complications when it is discovered that the bulk of Tej’s family managed to escape the attacks on their holdings and they arrive on Barrayar planning to take Tej and Rish with them. But they are also searching for an old and massive hidden storehouse leftover from the Cetagandan occupation of Barrayar, hoping to use its contents to equip themselves and refill their war chest in preparation for a counter attack against the house that seized their holdings. But they still don’t know who within their house betrayed them, and their journey to the storehouse may lead to disaster for them and those who inhabit the area near the storehouse, including Imperial Security Headquarters.
I give this book an 8 out of 10. The story was amusing and d it had a happy ending for pretty much everyone but the villains. The story focuses more on the life of the characters with some light combat and adventure, plus a nice amount of political maneuvering. No space combat at all but including it  really would not have made sense in the story. This is the first story I’ve read where Ivan was standing alone as the main character rather than being secondary to his cousin Miles Vorkosigan, whose family is the namesake of the series, and who stars in most of the setting’s stories. I hope it isn’t the last because Miles has always been one of my favorite science fiction heroes. 

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