Bujold, Lois McMaster: (116) Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is the most recent Vorkosigan book by Lois McMaster Bujold. It’s set between Diplomatic Immunity and Cryoburn, it alternates between Ivan POV’s and a new character, and it is very, very fluffy.

I wanted to like this, I did, and mostly it was pleasant. There’s a great late set-piece, and some terrific Simon stuff, and Ivan is enjoyable company. But twice I was mentally tapping my fingers, waiting for the plot to happen, for much longer than was optimal, and once I said, “Uh, we’re going to be happy and fluffy about this?” I also continue to side-eye the way that same-sex relationships apparently only exist on Athos in this universe, a pattern that becomes particularly conspicuous in this book. And in the end, it felt like Ivan changed and grew more in A Civil Campaign, where he was one viewpoint character of five, than here, which is nominally “his book.”

I don’t know what Bujold’s plans for this universe are (I don’t know if she knows). But this feels very much like a deliberate wrapping-up—there is, no kidding, an epilogue where the characters read each other letters from all their family members—and I confess to very mixed feelings about this. As I said with regard to Cryoburn, and also in a journal post about my issues with the later Vorkosigan books, Bujold and I are clearly no longer interested in the same things in this universe. And of course that’s her right as an author and my right as a reader, and no blame is implied or should be inferred. But I don’t know what to wish for, that our Vorkosigan-related interests come back into alignment or that she leaves the series as it stands to let me imagine things going more to my taste.

Anyway. If you don’t mind a fluffy leisurely Ivan-centric story, then Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is probably worth a read. If you were hoping for more than that, you’ll probably be disappointed.


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  1. Long-time reader, first time poster 🙂 – or something like that. Anyway, I’m glad someone else felt this way. I read it, and it was mildly enjoyable, and it made sense for the characters, but it wasn’t at all interesting. I sold it back to a used book store, which is the first time I’ve ever done that with a LLB book.

  2. StochasticBird, I read an ebook, but yeah, I know what you mean.

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