Fantasy Review: ‘Cetaganda’ by Lois McMaster Bujold

Cetaganda (Vorkosigan Saga, #9)In this novel Miles Vorkosigan and his cousin Ivan travel to Cetaganda, the long-standing enemy of Barrayar, to represent their Barrayar at the funeral of the mother of the Cetagandan emperor. From the moment they arrive they are swept into a complex and little understood political game between elements of the Cetagandan ruling class

I give up trying to think of anything to say. Not because it is a bad book but because I just read The Vor Game and the pattern is pretty established by now. Miles Vorkosigan will find himself in a sticky situation, be underestimated by everyone involved, and through a large amount of hijinks manage to save the day.

Two things set this one apart from the previous two outings for young Miles. One is the action takes place in one localized area rather than all over known space. So it is a little less coincidence heavy and a little more focused. The second is the unique gender dynamic the Cetegandan society has developed. A society that looks very patriarchal yet under the surface has some very defined roles that provides both men and women an avenue to power.

To be honest I found it all a bit clumsy. While the puzzle that Miles pieced together was entertaining the Cetegandan society the story took place within wasn’t all that convincing to me. Strict divisions along gender lines don’t seem to be the way to ensure total galactic dominance. Nor did the various other societal norms.

I really, really have nothing else to say. The overall story was strong; perhaps even a bit better than previous outings. By staying within one system instead of all over space the various run-ins and clues were a little less coincidence a little more believable. But for a story that seemed to be trying to say something I never really figured out what message I was supposed to be receiving.

Still enjoying this series but think I need to take a break. Shot gunning them back to back like I have been may be giving me a bit of overload. The next Bujold I read will probably be back in the Chalion universe.

3 Stars

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