Discharged from the Barrarayan academy after flunking the physical, a discouraged Miles Vorkosigan takes possession of a jumpship and accidently becomes the leader of a mercenary force that expands to a fleet of treasonous proportions.I'm a big Bujold fan, after a friend introduced me to the series - the same friend that recently had me avidly reading Kage Baker so while she's hard on my bank account I guess I'd better stay friends with her. This is the first of Bujold's Vorkosigan books and introduces Miles and his unstoppable "forward momentum". I've read it several times before this, and when I saw that Audible.com was releasing the series as unabridged audios I immediately renewed my membership and started budgeting.
It was interesting to listen instead of read, especially since listening to a book does take me a long time, so it gives me a whole different kind of pacing. Thanks to my CFS-ravaged memory, while I remembered the basics of the book, most of the details had slipped away from me, so I went into this unable to remember how Miles got the Dendarii fleet out of trouble (although I could basically remember how he got himself out of trouble on Barrayar at the very end). It made me increasingly nervous as the forward momentum just kept on rolling and rolling and I had no idea how Miles was going to stop it. (A different friend did offer to remind me, but I chose to keep going blind and be surprised all over again.) With a book, if I get too nervous I'm a bad girl and I skip forward to the end to check everything will be okay (I can't take the stress), but I wasn't able to do that with an audiobook, so I just had to trust the author and wait, a difficult proposition for an end-peeker like me. (I try not to end-peek, really I do. I don't like being spoiled, but for the reasons given above, sometimes I just have to check - all for the sake of my blood-pressure of course.)
This book contains a couple of my favourite lines of all time, and it was a delight to hear them spoken aloud instead of just reading them on a page. One at least, is surely worth repeating, as it shows Bujold's great ability to toss in comic lines without ever making the pacing of the book or the story itself comic.
Yet here he sat, a man with an imaginary battle fleet negotiating for its services with a man with an imaginary budget. Well, the price was certainly right.
Miles is a wonderful character. Poisoned by an assasination attempt on his father while still in the womb, his growth has been stunted and his bones are brittle and shatter easily. Despite that, he has a brilliant mind, a stubborn ability to give up and a strong need to prove himself equal to anyone else. When all that is put together, you have an underpinning character who weaves all manner of stories around himself.
But Bujold doesn't limit herself to Miles; all her characters are a delight. Tortured and tormented Sargent Bothari, Elena who finds herself able to find herself only by leaving home, that-idiot-Ivan, who while acting supremely idiotish in this volume, I still believe will prove himself one day.
This is a great start to a great series, and I'm going to enjoy slowly (okay, probably very slowly) listening my way through the Vorkosigan stories again. If you haven't discovered Miles yet, either read the book or listen to the audio, but don't deny yourself the pleasure.
The Warrior's Apprentice
Lois McMaster Bujold