Another of the books that turned up on my doorstep in a wonderful Lois McMaster Bujold care package from the lovely Nele! I am so enjoying reading through these. I knew there was a reason I was cursing our library for not having many of them in the system.
Here we are at the bridging point between Miles' two careers. One, as admiral of the Dendarii Fleet, Naismith. The other? Well, if you're reading through them and haven't jumped ahead and seen, I'll leave the other to your discovery.
This is a book that is largely about disability and what that might or might not mean for a person's life. About anger and depression. About moving forward anyway. About accommodation and resistance.
In that, it's not just about Miles. It's also about Simon Illyan, the terrifyingly intelligent person in charge of Imperial Security. Who appears to be losing his memory in the most terrifying way possible. Miles observes this, as he reports home and has to face the repercussions of his own new disability, the seizures he has been prone to since he came back from the dead.
Miles must, after his meeting with Illyan, deal with life without the touchstones he'd relied on for so long, because of his disability and his attempts to hide it from those who, he will admit, really needed to know. But because Miles is Miles, when Illyan is struck down, he can't keep from sticking his nose into what's going on. And finds that someone was trying to frame him for the sudden malfunction of Illyan's memory augmentations.
As always, Miles is an incredibly fun character to watch, particularly when he's in his "force of nature" phase. But his melancholy and depression are equally as important, the flipside of his usual forcefulness.
One thing this book reminded me, though, is how much I love Gregor as a character. He's grown through the books, and become quite a savvy Emperor, who very subtly maneuvers things behind the scenes to get what he wants. And isn't above using Miles as his agent to get them done. Of course, this book adds the contrast where he's daffy in love and just trying to go through all the motions until he can be married to the woman of his dreams.
This book also delves in interesting ways into the inner works of ImpSec, and how difficult that life is, always analyzing others. But when betrayal strikes from within, how do you find the culprit, much less the motive?
As always, Bujold's prose is a joy to read. It's light and fast-moving, but with surprising depth. She will be barrelling through scenes, and drop little pearls that make you stop and think. There's really nothing about these books I don't like. And a great deal I love. They are old-fashioned science fiction with plenty of insight and intelligence all her own.
I read this book as part of an attempt to read all the Hugo Nominees