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[personal profile] mtvessel
Jun 2013
Diplomatic Immunity - Lois McMaster Bujold - Baen, 2002
* * * *
The worst thing that I can say about this book is that I almost forgot to write a review of it. Not because it isn't interesting or immensely enjoyable, but simply because Bujold is so consistently good that it can be difficult to say anything new when the story is neither disappointingly off-form nor a series highlight. But I'll have a go.

Some people just can't get a break. Miles Vorkosigan is returning from a belated honeymoon when he gets an order to investigate a diplomatic incident that has occurred on a nearby space station. A Komarran merchant fleet has been impounded after an officer from its Barrayaran military escort disappeared and a squad sent to find him became engaged in a fire fight on the docks with the space station's owners, the Quaddies. Miles and Ekaterin must deal with the dimwitted Barrayaran fleet commander, the irritated station authorities and the disgruntled merchants. But needless to say, there is more going on and things soon take a dangerous turn.

The most interesting feature of this book is the depiction of Quaddie society. Quaddies, whose origins are covered in the first book in the Vorkosigan universe, Falling Free, are humans who were genetically engineered to live in zero-G environments. They have an extra pair of arms instead of legs and are resistant to motion sickness (and, presumably, bone mass loss, muscle wasting and other effects of prolonged weightlessness on humans). This is a fascinating idea, and while Bujold's elaboration of it isn't her most inspired work (quaddies are organised into "work gangs" and utilitarianism appears to be the dominant philosophy), the depiction of zero-G ballet is beautiful.

The plot bounds along and there is a measure of jeopardy, but like the later books in Lindsey Davis' Falco series, one feels that Bujold is likely to pull her punches when it comes to doing anything truly nasty to her main characters now that they are settled. Ekaterin, although having an important part to play, is underused compared to her roles in previous novels. Armsman Roic is solidly present and is developing as a character, though his dalliance in the previous story is curiously unremarked upon. And a significant character reappears, but to say who it is would be a spoiler. Though I kind of have

There are developments and surprises, and the dialogue is a good as ever, so this is by no means a bad book. It's just not a standout. Bujold took a long break from the Vorkosiverse after writing this one, and perhaps that was wise.

Date: 2013-12-19 08:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sounds like an interesting author - I've never read any of her stuff. Must give her a try.


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