Sci-Fi Review: ‘The Warrior’s Apprentice’ by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga, #2)“Your forward momentum is going to lead all your followers over a cliff someday.”  “One the way down, you’ll convince ‘em all they can fly.”  “Lead on, my lord.  I’m flapping as hard as I can.”

So this is the famed Miles Vorkosigan everyone has been going on about, staring in his first solo effort The Warrior’s Apprentice, henceforth to be known as A Series of Improbable Events.  Talk about a snowball effect, escalation after escalation, climaxing into yet another escalation.  After the two Cordelia books I will admit the pace caught me by surprise.  I had no idea what to expect from this one, but a man just trying to keep up with the ever increasing house of cards he built worked just fine.

Physically unable to complete his military training (brittle bones make the physical challenge at academy a bit too much), Miles takes a vacation to Betan to see his Grandmother along with his shadowing bodyguard (familiar face Bothari) and the bodyguards daughter.  But rather than getting to his grandmother the aforementioned escalations start up; finding a job for a veteran leads to commanding an army that assumes he is something more than he seems.

So here I am, often the man who is bothered with little pieces don’t add up, finding myself jumping in with both feet, riding with eyes wide open, and mixing metaphors like a kid in a candy shop.  If bits and pieces of Miles crazy story didn’t add up, oh damn well.  Because I would be shocked by anyone not caught up in his incredible ride, rooting for a man who may be less underdog than he originally shows.  Sure I had trouble buying some of the coincidences, but when they lead to something this fun I can ignore them completely.

So when Miles helps talk a man down from a metaphorical ledge?  I am excited.

And when he suckers a man into selling a ship with a patch of nuked earth?  Fist pumping in the air.

And oh Jesus don’t think I wasn’t giving a minor cheer every..single..time that new recruits showed up to join his crazy unexpected mercenary group.

Bujold has proven to me that she can swing emotions with the best of them.  There is no shortage of laughs here, less in a cheap joke style but with plenty of wit coming from both characters and situations.  But she can make a reader challenge their own preconceptions of a situation over and over; in this case the continued story of Bothari, now with his daughter Elina in tow.  I still can’t decide if Bothari’s actions make up for his past, or if Lord Vorkosigan did the correct thing in helping to hid Elina’s background.  And throughout I wonder if I should even be rooting for Miles in this crazy endeavor; at what point is the cost too high for this game he is playing?  (Though once it moved from game to pure necessity it was easier to decide).

Add in all the things that I have already seen Bujold do so well, especially making every character feel so damn real, and I am in love.  I am THIS CLOSE to just reviewing Pratchett and Bujold in an alternating pattern until I am out of books.  It is just too much fun.

4 Stars

Special thanks to Alix from The Other Side of the Rain for helping to feed my new found Bujold addiction.

PS.  This is the forth Bujold I have read this year.  Crazy, right?

The Curse of ChalionStill my favorite of her work, beautiful fantasy novel.

From the Vorkosigan series: Shards of Honor and Barrayar.



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