Audie Award Winner, Science Fiction, 2014
Captain Ivan Vorpatril is happy with his relatively uneventful bachelor's life as a staff officer to a Barrayaran admiral. Cousin to imperial troubleshooter Miles Vorkosigan, Ivan is not far down the hereditary list for the emperorship. Thankfully, new heirs have directed that headache elsewhere, leaving Ivan to enjoy his life on Komarr, far from the Byzantine court politics of his home system. But when an old friend in Barrayaran intelligence asks Ivan to protect an attractive young woman who may be on the hit list of a criminal syndicate, his chivalrous nature takes over. It seems danger and adventure have once more found Captain Vorpatril.
Tej Arqua and her half-sister and servant, Rish, are fleeing the violent overthrow of their clan on free-for-all planet Jackson's Whole. Now it seems Tej may possess a secret of which even she may not be aware - a secret that could corrupt the heart of a highly regarded Barrayaran family and provide the final advantage for the thugs who seek to overthrow Tej's homeworld. But none of Tej's formidable adversaries have counted on Ivan Vorpatril. For behind Ivan's facade of wry and self-effacing humor lies a true and cunning protector who will never leave a distressed lady in the lurch - making the ultimate sacrifice to keep her from harm: the treasured and hard-won freedom from his own fate as a scion of Barrayar.
Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the most honored writers of science fiction and fantasy, having won five Hugo Awards and three Nebula Awards. In 2011 she was awarded the Skylark Award for her significant contributions to science fiction.
©2012 Lois McMaster Bujold (P)2012 Blackstone Audio
This is the most recent addition to Lois McMaster Bujold's popular Vorkosigan saga, but it doesn't feature a Vorkosigan protagonist. Instead, "quiet life" Ivan Vorpatril (who tends not to have quite the Vorkosigan larger-than-life quality) gets to take centre stage.
There's a bit of an adventure plot and a slice of a mystery plot, but both of these take backseat to an enjoyable Georgette Heyer-esque romance story, which gives Ivan the opportunity to be a hero / knight errant in his own right. There's a some fun dialogue, and witty asides as Ivan is shocked to find himself in trouble without help from his cousin Miles, which is all very enjoyable. The heart of the story, though, is two people coming to terms with what they themselves want out of life, as opposed to what others expect them to want.
As with others in this series (which I have only listened to as audiobooks-please excuse misspellings of character names), the book is engagingly read by Grover Gardner. I don't want to give away plot details, but the story twisted enough to keep me interested, and whilst this isn't necessarily my favourite of the series, I'm certain I will be wanting to listen to it again at some point. Money (or credits) very well spent!
This book takes place in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan universe. Like most books in the series it is a completely standalone novel, but readers of other works will recognise references to events and cameo appearances. The main character is Ivan Vorpatril, who plays second fiddle to Miles Vorkosigan in earlier books.
Whilst set in a sci-fi universe with stunners and plasma arcs, this is a very standard Regency Romance. The plot is almost a direct fusion of two of my favorite Georgette Heyer novels (I won't mention which two for fear of spoilers).
If, like me, you enjoy sci-fi based on character development and interaction then I recommend this as an undemanding, pleasant listen.
Grover Gardner does his usual workmanlike job of reading. He isn't great with character voices and accents- Ivan speaking sarcastically sounds the same as Miles speaking sarcastically sounds the same as his admiral speaking sarcastically - but he has a lovely reading voice suitable for hours of listening.
It was a lovely surprise to discover another book in this series. I thought we had ended with Cryoburn. (this book is set a few years earlier). Ivan had shown some signs of maturing in A Civil Campaign and I'd been disappointed to see no more of him in the next books.
In this one he is still very much his own character, but we see the more grown up, responsible man. Where in a book about Miles we would become involved in an avalanche and enjoying the danger. Ivan still wants to avoid problems (and dark, wet, cramped places).
Miles does make a guest appearance, but this is not a book about him.
I wouldn't say it's the best of the series, but like most of Bujold's books it will certainly bear re-reading.
As always Grover Gardner narrates beautifully.
"We are finally allowed to see Ivan without Miles."
Ivan Vorpatril is a survivor. Born in the middle of a military coup, hours after his father was killed in front of his very pregnant aristocratic mother, he was swaddled in borrowed blankets and smuggled out of the war zone as part of a refugee family. Although he has grown into a gorgeous "hunk", he has continued to survive through protective coloring. I thought in the first books his character was only included in the Vorkosigan stories as a foil for his cousin Miles, the physically challenged genius, who accidentally founded a whole Army at seventeen years old. Ivan's name in these stories is often followed by "you idiot".It hasn't stopped his relatives for asking for his reluctant help though.. So I LOVE IT, that Ivan is now the hero in this book, without any tricks such as having him turn from a Clark Kent to Superman. Ivan is still the very ordinary young man who has avoided becoming a focus for a coup in his own times, not by becoming a super warrior on a planet of warriors, but by being an average, guy, just not understanding all of the plots and underplots swirling around him. His over achieving relatives sometimes wonder if he is doing it on purpose, and shake their heads and think not, unless he began fading into the background at five. Hard to do when your are taller, and stronger than everyone else around, even at five. These warrior types should have spent more time around five year olds. The little people are very much personalities even at five. Sorry, I feel as if I've watched, a favorite child grow up and become successful. Lois MacMaster Bujold is a great writer to make her characters that real.
I enjoyed watching Ivan come into his own.
Grover Gardner is one of those magnificent performer's who sounds as though he is someone you've met. No matter what part of the country your from.
I enjoyed the whole book, but the last few pages were made me laugh aloud.
I hope there will be more stories about the Vor world. This author doesn't leave the reader with cliff hangers, like old fashioned B movies or soap operas. She doesn't have to. Her books are so interesting, that although each book is ended with a logical and satisfying conclusion, her world is full of such interesting people that I hope to meet them as often as possible.
"Ivan you Idiot!"
“Ivan you idiot!” is a phrase that we have come to love over the years. But Ivan is not really an idiot, he is no Miles for sure, but what he really lacks is not intelligence but rather the driving ambition that keeps Miles going like a deranged Duracell bunny. Instead Ivan has something else, an acute sense of the political ramifications that would fall on his head if he just happened to not be an idiot. He has in a sense a vast driving anti-ambition. Ivan is the second in line to the imperial throne, he is the son-in-law to the almighty Simon Illyan and not to mention his connections to all kinds of powerful people including an immensely political, protective and meddling mother. Something other powerful people would exploit in a heartbeat if they could and if Ivan would only let them. So Ivan the Idiot has over the years developed his own unique way of dealing with all these issues when really all he wants to do is live a quiet ordinary life. In the rooms and on the bridges of the starships where the Big Decisions are handled Ivan has made standing around (with selective amnesia and attention disorder) like the wall-hangings or a part of the décor into an art form. Either that, or solve the whole problem by doing his best to oversleep that day.
This is the story of how Ivan, without Miles’s help I might add, gets into trouble, falls in love and much more when his allergy to intrigue clashes with the old Vor-honor. After all, what can a Vor Lord do when there are damsels in distress about, gorgeous ones at that, with unfortunately a whole lot of familial and familiar baggage themselves?
"The 15th book, but a pleasant throwback"
This is the 15th(!!) book in the Vorkosigan series, and, at this point, it would be a bit of shock to have someone reading this review who hadn't already been engaged in this particular series for a long time. If you are a Vorkosigan fan, the answer is yes, Bujold's new book is very good, she hasn't lost it, Grover Gardner is still solid, and you should listen to it. Strangely, for non-readers, especially those with a bit more interest in the interpersonal than the interplanetary, this may not be the worst place to start, since many new characters are introduced, and the book serves as a gently introduction to the Vor universe. But this is an excellent series, so , of course, you probably should start at book four ("Warrior's Apprentice"), if not book one.
And the early Vorkosigan novels do seem to haunt Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, though not in a bad way. As the hero of the series, Miles, has aged and matured into a fantastically well-rounded character, the series has generally gotten a bit more grim and focused even as Miles has grown in confidence and power. By instead choosing to develop a side character, Bujold gives us a little bit of some of the old Miles fun again - surprise interventions by the Emperor, offworlders baffled by Barrayar, and so on.
It is a nice change of pace after two darker books, and, while it doesn't advance the main Miles plot, it is fun to see another Vorkosigan-style comedy of manners, with a little less action and a little lower stakes than we have seen recently. Not the highpoint of the series, but definitely recommended!
"Ivan's time in the spotlight"
Ivan has always been one of my favorite characters in the Vorkosigan books. It was nice to see him get his own book. I loved that he managed to get into as much trouble by himself as when Miles gets him into it and also manages to get out of it too. The antics are quite amusing and it's fascinating to see how Ivan actually thinks as opposed to Miles. It was also nice to see cameo's from Gregor, Miles, Lady Alys, and Simon Ilyan. I would like to see more of Byerly in the future and also future adventures of Ivan. Actually, I would just like more books in this universe. Grover Gardner does his usual impeccable job and is one of my favorite narrators. I do look for books he's written.
"Bujold is one of my favorites!"
Grover Gardner does a great job with all of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosikan series! Her dry humor in this series is perfectly captured by Mr. Gardner and really adds to the story.I have found all of these books (including this one) very entertaining and laugh out loud funny! Be careful in public, your bursts of laughter may startle others! Although Bujold has an entirely different style, I rate her with David Weber and John Ringo. Good clean fun!
I enjoyed Ivan's adventure well enough, but I found myself missing Miles, the nonpareil. Bujold is never less than satisfactory, but Miles on his best days is nearly impossible to match, so it was inevitable that this story would suffer by comparison.
Then, happily, I immediately followed this book with Barrayar and found that the connections between the two stories, the one set before Miles' birth and the other transpiring with no appreciable reference to him, are very strong and very satisfying. Many seeds planted in Barrayar provide the rich context for Ivan's long delayed arrival into maturity in Capt. Vorpatril's Alliance. Two courtships and weddings (or wedding and courtship in the latter case) provide wonderful bookends for the series (at least so far), and seeing MIles' parents, once more in their prime and struggling with the events surrounding his arrival on the scene, was an absolute delight for one who has reveled in his adventures through the years, his and mine.
So I recommend that you skip back to Barrayar and read or reread it before you begin this book. By tying the current narrative in with the entire sweep of the series and revisiting events which bear fruit here, you may greatly heighten your enjoyment. If, on the other hand, you have not read many or any of the Vorkosigan books, this is definitely not a good place to start. But DO get started. This is one of the premier series in all of F&SF. Just save this book for later.
Due to the combination of my severe symptoms of long term Vorkosigan Withdrawal Syndrome coupled with the release of the latest entry of the Vorkosigan saga, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, there is little I can do but be thankful. An addict always appreciates a long past due fix. This was completely enjoyable and the narrator, Grover Gardner, is just about perfect, adding spirit to each character through outstanding voicing, timing, and tone. Many narrators just read the book, which is OK, but Grover expresses the tenor and attitude of each character, which makes the listen immensely more enjoyable. I really enjoyed this fix, it had a lot of the features of a Vorkosigan book I fancy, lots of humor, subtle yet interesting technology, off-beat almost comical sexuality, and curious relationships, but it lacked some of the snarkiness and adventurous daring do of the best of Miles. This was missing a little of the quirkiness that make the Miles books so compelling. Ivan did his best, but he is no Miles. Nevertheless I will surely get the next book in the Vorpatril arc as soon as available.
"Long Awaited Ivan Story! Space Action & Romance"
This book takes place between a Civil Campaign and Cyroburn. This was the first time I heard a Lois McMaster Bujold book before reading it. I think that added to the enjoyment, as I rather liked hearing the humour. I really like seeing a complete novel mostly from Ivan's POV. We have increasingly had hints that he is less of a lout and has a finely honed judgement of people's characters and motivations, and this is borne out by his actions in this novel.
The usual Bujold tropes of identity, honour and loyalty are delightfully explored in this romance/ espionage /action novel.
I think this book is better than Cryoburn, but not as good as her top notch books in this universe such as Memory or Mirror Dance. The last 3 or so chapters were a blast, but I felt the epilogue tied up too many ends, and I not sure about the final career path being hinted at for Ivan.
If you a fan of the series I thoroughly recommend the download. Oh, and Miles only makes a short (ahem) appearance (a shame as I was looking forward to seeing more of the Ivan as the Miles foil).
"Ivan Is No Idiot!"
Light and enjoyable entry into the Vorkosigan series. Ivan is a fine hero and, the reader gets to visit with most of Bujold's cast of character, either in person or in letters. A Must Read for any fan.
"Another winner from Bujold"
This is a story of Miles's cousin Ivan Vorpatril and takes place before "Cryoburn." For fans of the Barrayar saga, this lets us spend time with Ivan and many of the other Barrayar characters. Miles has a minor supporting role; the story revolves around Ivan, Lady Alice Vorpatril, Simon Illyan, Byerly Vorrutyer and some very entertaining people who become Ivan's relatives. Not quite as laugh out loud as "A Civil Campaign" but it's really fun to see what new troubles will plague Ivan. I also enjoyed learning more about what makes Ivan tick and listening to how the characters evolve.
As with all Bujold books it can be read as a standalone but is much richer if one is familiar with the Barrayar saga.
Grover Gardner and Blackstone Audio have done all the Bujold audiobooks. Gardner is an outstanding narrator, his characterizations are spot on and he brings out the nuances of the plot.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.