Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold

*Spoilers Below*

Another Vorkosigan book I have courtesy of my lovely friend Nele, who arranged for a care package of Bujold books to show up on my doorstep a while back, after I was whining that my local library had almost none of them.

I am having so much fun working through them, bit by bit.

And we're back to Mark! Eeeennnteresting. What's even more interesting are the ways in which this Vorkosigan book has a large chunk there in the middle without any Miles in it! I was shocked when that happened, and I'm trying very hard to figure out how to allude to what happened without giving it away. I wasn't sure how a Miles book without Miles would work.

It turns out, rather well. This forces the focus onto Mark, just when he'd most like to hide. He gets sent to Barrayar, and meets the parents he had never met, and that meeting is just as interesting and complex as I was expecting.

Let me give you a little example. You know how, in most media, eavesdropping scenes are there for people to either hear unpleasant things about themselves, or to hear just the wrong snippet and jump to terrible conclusions? That is not what happens here, and it delighted me. Mark accidentally eavesdrops on his parents in their library, and what does he discover? An honest conversation that confronts all the difficulties around them, has a lot of love in it, some calling on bullshit, but most of all, makes him aware that his parents don't just put on appearances - what they show the public is who they are.

It's a wonderful scene, and I was so pleased with Bujold for breaking those conventions and letting that be something different and new and far more interesting. False drama is boring. Real drama, like, say, having a clone son appear just as his brother has disappeared, and trying to cope with it like adults? Far more intriguing.

And it's also very interesting watching Mark trying to figure out who he is now that he's not trying to be Miles. Negotiating Barrayaran society. And Ivan. And then, later, being the one to figure out what's going on with Miles, and leading the attempt to bring him back. (See how politic I'm being in my descriptions?)

I also enjoyed Miles as, well, not-Miles. It was interesting to watch that energy bubbling up through someone who doesn't know who he is for a while. But still knows how to test boundaries, understand people, and inspire loyalty.

Poor Mark. It was interesting to get into some of the darker stuff, if very uncomfortable. And to see Mark's mind's tactics for dealing with it as a source of strength rather than a weakness, which is perceptive and interesting.

Oh, I feel like there's a ton of stuff I'm dancing around, to avoid spoiling it. Ah well. I'll leave this as a somewhat opaque review.

The ending also tickled me, with Mark not letting Miles run roughshod over him. It's what Miles needs. What else are siblings for?


I read this book as part of an attempt to read all the Hugo Nominees

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