Saturday, March 30, 2024

18. Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold (#9 in the Vorkosigan saga)

I guess Memory could be considered an interstitial novel.  I also suspect it may be the transition book to a new phase in the series.  Miles is basically grounded on Barrayar, after the seizures from his being resurrected from cryosleep cause him to accidentally slice off a rescued hostage's legs.  The real problem, though, was not the accident (Bujold has a nice wry way of treating these kinds of horrific space injries that make them somehow slightly funny), but that Miles lied about it on his report to his Barrayan ImpSec spy master, Simon Illyan.  He is caught and is forced to resign and give up his military duty, leaving him stuck at his family's mansion alone and brooding, trying to figure out his future (including the option of running away back to the Dendarii mercenaries to be his alter ego Admiral Naismith forever).

However, he isn't given long to fret as Illyan starts displaying bizarre behaviour, seemingly losing track of time.  This gets worse and worse until he has a total breakdown.  Miles now must act as a Vor and old family friend, against the new chief of ImpSec.  This book never really gets going into this main plot until the second half and even then it doesn't feel totally like the main story.  The real story here is Miles trying to figure out who he is and we also get a good dose of Barrayan aristocratic developments, including the emperor finally falling in love.

It's not a rip-roaring adventure, but I still found it absorbing and a page-turner.  We know the characters quite well now. This was finally the book where I think I truly get Miles' character.  He really comes off as brilliant and driven in the way he solves the mystery of Illyan's memory.  The ending and where it seemingly closes off certain storylines and opens new ones was quite satisfying and I'm looking forward to see where it goes from here.

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