Lois McMaster Bujold, Young Miles
This omnibus of two novels and a novella tells the story of Miles Vorkosigan’s first adventures. In The Warrior’s Apprentice, Miles has just flunked out of the Imperial Academy, where he’d hoped to distinguish himself like his father, the Prime Minister of Barrayar. Instead, he consoles himself by going on a mission to help his bodyguard’s daughter (and secret love), Elena. Of course, things quickly go wrong, and he finds himself at the head of a troop of space mercenaries. In The Mountains of Mourning, Miles is sent to a remote Barrayaran village to investigate the murder of a deformed child, a case that has special meaning for him. And in The Vor Game, Miles rejoins his army of mercenaries after a simple intelligence-gathering mission goes awry — with Gregor, the Emperor of Barrayar, in tow. Miles just can’t seem to stay out of trouble; but his brilliant strategic mind always keeps him one step ahead of his enemies.
I read the two books about Miles’ parents, Shards of Honor and Barrayar, several years ago and really liked them. So I’m glad I finally picked up these next books about the beginning of Miles’ career. I liked all three stories a lot, mostly because Miles is such a wonderfully entertaining character. In these books he’s often immature, and he still has a lot of growing up to do; but he does start to change for the better when he encounters some of the harsh realities of being a commander. Miles has a tendency to bluff his way from one situaton to the next, and he eventually learns that this approach often has dangerous consequences for his subordinates. I think the weak link in this omnibus is the first half of The Vor Game; not much happens that’s relevant to the later plot, and there is also a loose end with a corpse in a drainpipe that I wish had been more developed. But overall, I really enjoyed these books and would recommend them to anyone who likes space opera. I look forward to reading more about Miles and his adventures!
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