Sunday, February 2, 2014

"Vorkosigan Saga" reread: "Cetaganda" by Lois McMaster Bujold

As I planned, I continue with my "Vorkosigan Saga" reread, inserted occasionally between other books. This time it was "Cetaganda" - as I said I was reading the books in internal chronology order, starting from "The Warrior's Apprentice".

In "Cetaganda", Miles and Ivan are sent on a diplomatic "mission" - as high nobles of Barrayar they are to attend the funeral of Cetagandan Empress. Cetaganda, as in Barrayar's greatest enemy. And they are told to behave. This changes even before they set a foot on Cetagandan territory. The two of them are victims on random assault, during which Miles come into a possession of some Cetagandan trinket. A trinket that everybody wants back and that can decide the future of Cetaganda...

"Cetaganda" is a book little off the tracks. By that, I mean that even it fits in internal chronology, it is more of a side book. You won't miss anything if you skip it (well, nothing except much fun). Events here don't affect later books, except in small details (like the medal, or as old love). So I was a bit in doubt to read it or skip it, since I remember it quite well and know that it is not very important in larger scheme. But as I also knew it was a very fun read, I decided to reread it.

Miles is here between big roles. He is not a young inexperienced leader as in past books, nor is he hyperactive professional megalomaniac as in next few following books. He continues his habit of manipulating his superiors when they (potentially) bother him. He also continues to "bully" his cousin Ivan, even though Ivan more or less lets him do it. All other characters are pretty well written, even those that only appear once or twice. Bujold can make them feel three-dimensional just in few sentences.

As for plot, it is combination between action, detective investigation and a little bit of comedy.

Bujold continues to do well with setting. It is imaginative so much it would not pass any tests, but it is written so unobtrusively that everybody just accepts it as it is.

One of my favorite parts of this book is in the end, when Miles receives his medal. And I like the scene where this same medal appears in few books later!

As I said, "Cetaganda" is not an important book in this series, but if you skip it, you will miss all the fun. A great book for all fans of the series.

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