Sci-Fi Review: ‘The Vor Game’ by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Vor Game, AKA The Warrior’s Apprentice Part Deux, is the type of book that almost The Vor Game (Vorkosigan Saga, #6)made me give up on the audiobook and instead go buy the damn thing for my kindle.  NOT, mind you, because the narrator of the audio book was bad by any means.  He was very smooth, played with voices just enough to let you know someone new was talking without trying to hold cadences far from his norm; it was like being read to by Paul Harvey (I now know the rest of the story).

No, the problem is my overdrive app doesn’t have a way to speed up the book and I CAN READ SO MUCH FASTER THAN THIS.  I just wanted to know how this ends.  Usually I read during my lunch, for the last few days I have brought head phones in to continue this instead. 

Miles Vorkosigan, your story is one addictive drug.  You mesmerize me just much as all those mercenaries you had dancing to your jig.   The game is on, just like last time.  Miles has graduated from the academy and the new Ensign is sent to an ice bound hell for his first assignment.  All he has to do is keep his nose clean for a short time and he will gain a berth on the Prince Serg, crown ship of the his empire’s fleet.  Oh there is no way he is keeping his nose clean, is there?

Bujold is such a master, working her way up my top author list so quickly other authors can only cry.  This book is fast paced and, like The Warriors Apprentice, far fetched as hell.  Don’t stop and appreciate the scenery or you may notice the extras holding set pieces in place around you.  People conveniently show up in unexpected places, and this type of thing usually drives me nuts.  So why do I completely and utterly forgive Bujold for this in The Vor Game?

Because I want to.  Because I was all but cheering for Miles in my car.  Because sometimes lots of good things take the one or two issues and bury them at sea.  What?  Nothing to see here, we are just a couple of fisherman who also cast cement forms as a hobby.

So a few plot points rely on convenience, so what?  There are still about six strings Bujold is weaving this plot with, all moving different directions and coming together all at once.  Miles leaves the ice station in disgrace, rejoins his mercenary squad in a position of subordination, and eventually is pulling ever string in the sector in order to save the Emperor, stop a war, and on up a rival mercenary.  Forgotten tidbits from the beginning of the book come back in play later, leading up to that cheering out load that I totally didn’t do in the car by the end of the book.

This is the fourth book of the series I have read, and while I have enjoyed them all it is easily my favorite.  For reasons I can’t quite explain I bought what was going on more than in The Warrior’s Apprentice, despite the similar ‘everything gets out of control and Miles holds on by the skin of his teeth style.’  Her characters continue to be among the best around; each of them is realistically a person with fears, desires, strengths and weaknesses.  Even her tech stands apart.  Wormholes are not unique to her but they make the strategic areas of battle plans more realistic than pure open space.  And a quick run down of the rapid fire changes in actual space combat shows more design than some series could dream up.

A great continuation of a great series.  And a good audiobook too; Grover Gardner has one of those voices that is made for this.  I remain addicted.

4 Stars

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