Thursday, December 21, 2023

89. Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold (#7 in the Vorkosigan saga plus Borders of Infinity novella)

There are no non-human species
in this book so far
I enjoyed Ethan of Athos but it left me hankering to get back to Miles Vorkosigan's primary narrative so I jumped right into Borders of Infinity and then Brothers in Arms, both of which are collected in the weird over-sized Baen collection called Miles Errant.  I don't like the look of these books nor am I fan of their size, but I have to admit at this age they are somewhat easier to read when you are at home.

Borders of Infinity starts in medias res with Miles being released into a prisoner of war bubble run by victorious Cetagandans.  I say bubble because it is contained by a giant force sphere that regulates temperature, oxygen and light (and of course entrance and exit) that extends under the earth.  The other prisoners are from Marilac, a planet that Cetaganda had invaded and as we learn Miles is there as Admiral Naismith on a mission to rescue a high-ranking colonel.  The prisoners have descended to a near-barbaric state, fighting each other for what little resources they have and the women separated into a self-defensive tribe on one side of the sphere.  They were all part of a resistance army and one planet and Miles/Naismith uses his strategic skills to figure out the Cetagandans psychological tactics and unite the prisoners.  It's cool.

In Brothers in Arms, Miles is called to Earth, on duty at the embassy there (starting to see a small pattern in the plot structures with these books now as this is the second time where that is the setup).  His mercenaries are also here, stuck in a holding pattern and running out of funds while waiting for Barrayar to pay them.  Miles superior is a Komarran, a planet which Barrayar subjugated and Miles is suspicious.  Soon after, he is kidnapped and discovers that a clone of him has been made as part of a long, elaborate plan of revenge.  

The politics of the series in this book are interesting, especially at this time when Israel is invading Gaza in retaliation of the surprise terrorist attack.  Everything is quite abstracted at the planetary level but there are parallels.  Komarr is strategically important because it has the jump gate next to Barrayar and Komarr allowed the Cetagandans to use that in their attempted invasion of Barrayar.  So after Barrayar pushed back the Cetagandans, they then invaded and took over Komarr.  The book does not judge this negatively, seeming to frame it as a necessity and glosses over the details of how one planet could subjugate another.  The perspective seems to be that atrocities were committed and they were bad but now that Barrayar is in control, it would be best for Komarr to join up and fit in.  Questionable politics and I'll be curious to see if they are explored more deeply in future books.

No comments: