Bujold, Lois McMaster. Brothers in Arms.

NY: Baen Books, 1989.

By internal sequence, this is the sixth volume (but the second or third one actually written) in the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan, now in his mid-twenties, and both a lieutenant in the Barrayaran military (in Imperial Security, actually) and “Admiral Naismith” commanding the 5,000-man Dendarii mercenaries. And if none of this means anything to you, stop right there and go and read from the beginning of the series, because if you start here, you’ll have no idea what’s going on.

The Dendarii have just completed a contract that involved putting the Cetagandans’ collective nose out of joint, and they’re trying to outrun both a revenge fleet and the threat of assassination against Miles personally, when they fetch up in Earth orbit. The original home of Man is rather out of the way now in terms of wormholes and interstellar trade, but it’s still the cultural capital of human civilization and every other world has an important embassy there. Miles sheds his admiral’s uniform and reports in to the local head of Imperial Security, intending to lay low for awhile and also requesting funds to repair and refit the Dendarii. His cousin, Ivan Vorpatril, happens to be stationed there, as well, and Miles settles in, doing escort duties at embassy functions and such. But the money keeps not coming and “Admiral Naismith” begins to get desperate. More than that, Miles finds himself having to switch back and forth between his two personas, which makes him more than ordinarily schizoid. Moreover, the officer in charge of local security — his boss, technically, though it’s difficult for Miles to take orders from anyone — turns out to be a politically sensitive individual from a conquered world whose family had been active in the anti-Barrayaran underground. (So he has things to prove.) And then, while trying to bait a trap to catch out those vengeful assassins, he’s captured by the last person he ever expected to meet: Himself. And there’s a much larger plot afoot — a plot against him, his father the Count, and the Barrayaran imperium.

It’s a pretty good story, filled with the author’s often fast-paced dialogue, dead-pan humor, and astute characterizations, especially of the manically and strategically brilliantly Miles himself, who is addicted to adrenalin rushes and whose stunted physical appearance notably affects his personality. I’ve become likewise quite addicted to this series — but do start at the beginning.

Published in: on 27 October 2012 at 6:35 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. I just the other day finished Cordelia’s Honor. Chronologically, I did start at the beginning. . . which means I’ll get to this one eventually!

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