Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Published: 1996, Baen
Category: Science Fiction
This is only the second Miles Vorkosigan adventure I've read. I read A Civil Campaign first because that's the one with his love story in it (and you know I'm a sucker for a love story). So I was a little afraid that the other books in the series (sans romance) would not do much for me. Hoooo boy, I was so wrong.
This book falls sort of in the middle of the series. Miles has achieved military success finally, despite having been born with assorted, serious medical handicaps. I'm a little foggy on this exactly because I haven't read the earlier books, but he's established himself as an undercover agent of some sort. On a recent mission, he was nearly killed (or killed and then brought back to life, actually) and since then he's been having unexplained seizures. He doesn't want to be pulled off duty because of it, so he's been lying to his superiors about them. But then he has one during a rescue mission, and unintentionally hurts the man who he's supposed to be rescuing. Afraid that this will be the end of his military career, he lies on his report, even though he knows it's wrong and it hurts his conscience to do so.
But he's caught out in his lie and his boss, Illyan, has no choice but to put him on medical discharge. Miles, deprived of the career that he has worked so hard for, is completely lost and doesn't know what to do with himself. While Miles is casting about for his identity, Illyan appears to be having some difficulties. He has a chip in his brain that allows him to remember anything he's ever heard or seen (a handy tool for a chief of security). But the thing has started going haywire and nobody knows why. Miles wants to help, as Illyan has been a friend and mentor for years and years, but as a civilian doesn't have much power. Emperor Gregor comes up with a way to give Miles to authority to investigate the problem.
How I did love this book. How I do LOVE Miles. He's just a fascinating character--so flawed and so determined! To see him floundering after being discharged is so sad because you know he's worked many times harder than anyone else to achieve success. He's so honorable and yet he does something dishonorable because he cannot imagine a different sort of life for himself.
This seemed to me like a particularly well-rounded book. Several plotlines go on simultaneously and tons of character development--everything is given the perfect amount of emphasis and it all ties up in this nice, neat tight little package. Very good writing.
And reading these books out of order is kind of fun in a way. Little things that confused me fall into place. But I think now I'm going to go back to the beginning and watch Miles from the start. I ordered Young Miles, which has two novels and a novella packed into one book for $7.99 (what a deal!). :)