Sep 172011
 

This book is utterly amazing,  I can’t stress that enough. It hits every single sci-fi button I have; space opera, crime, horror, and just enough of a touch of romance to give it an emotional punch.  It has zombies, heroic sacrifice, interplanetary war, and some truly great action.

On paper that might seem like a book by the numbers but it really isn’t.  The writing is clever but eminently readable and the story just blew me away.  With such a heady mix of so many elements the plot could have been really confusing, yet I had no trouble following it.

The characters are believable, realistic and they quickly get into your mind, even those that are only present for a short time.  I loved Captain Jim Holden and his somewhat naive and altruistic view of life. He’s written so well that the odd mix of both admirable and foolhardy decision making is believable. The authors have given us a hero that acts like one despite the consequences.  The rest of the survivors were also well realised and added a lot to the depth and flavour of the story.  As an aside I did laugh when Naomi figuratively had to smack Jim into sense, one of a number of comic moments that help break up the considerable tension.

Detective Miller is a bit of an enigma.  A very strong character but obviously fundamentally damaged, and the complete opposite of Jim.  He sees things from a much more realistic perspective and can look at the bigger picture.  I thought the debates with Holden about his decisions, and them both being at opposite ends of the spectrum were very well written and thought out.  Neither were right or wrong but I found my own feelings on the matter coloured how I looked at it.  Miller’s involvement was excellent yet sad and the emotional writing of this character had me in tears towards the end of the book.

I thought the future technology side was well crafted and believable, taking into account physics and the forces at play when ships are moving.  I felt it all was very smooth, understandable and very creative.

The plot and pace are very much tied together as each chapter unfolds and both increase in intensity nicely.  I’ve seen some people say the ending employs deus ex machina, however I totally disagree because the groundwork had been building right from the start.  To me it was just another example of the clever writing in Leviathan Wakes.

I didn’t find out until after I’d finished, that James S. A. Corey is actually the pen name for two people; Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.  I have to say I think they blended perfectly; sometimes you can get a feel of two voices in these situations but I was unaware and very surprised when I did realise.

An amazingly exciting space opera, and I absolutely can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: James S.A. Corey
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Jul 172008
 

Dr. Ethan Urquhart is the Chief of Biology at the Severin District Reproduction Centre. On a planet entirely populated by men and forbidden to women, it takes ingenuity to keep the species going. When there is a drastic shortage of viable ovarian tissue cultures, steps have to be taken to order supplies in from off-world. When the delivery turns out to be substituted junk, Ethan has to leave his cloistered planet in search of new tissue cultures. Eli Quinn of the Dendarii Free Mercenaries has a coinciding interest and after saving Ethan’s life, agrees to help him complete his mission, if he will help with hers.

I was surprised at first that this book wasn’t focused on Miles – He is mentioned a few times in passing but that’s it. It was good to meet Eli Quinn again, with her new face and she has developed into a very likeable character along with Ethan Urquhart. I wasn’t sure what to expect given Athos’ nature but since the book is extremely well written, it was handled with tact, normality and was very refreshing. Not your average sci-fi book but enjoyable none-the-less.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 172008
 

Miles is now a Lieutenant and as Lord Vorkosigan, he is ordered to Eta Ceta along with his cousin Ivan. The Cetagandan Empress has died and they are to be ambassadors for Barrayar in the forthcoming mourning and funeral rites. What should have been a simple diplomatic event, turns into something far more serious as Miles becomes embroiled in a plot that could destroy the very nature of Cetaganda.

While I enjoyed Cetaganda, I did find it a bit confusing. The caste system and hierarchy weren’t clearly explained, you were just kind of dumped in the middle of it and left to sort it out for yourself. It might not have been important to have it clearly explained, as the story is very much centred on Miles but it detracted from the story quite a bit as I tried to figure it out. That aside, seeing a slightly more mature Miles was great and the comic interactions between him and Ivan were very funny. I enjoyed the book, just not as much as the others so far.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 172008
 

Continuing Miles’ story, he’s now an Ensign in the Barrayaran Military and sent to a remote outpost to stay out of trouble. Trouble has a knack of finding him however, and as a result, he is dispatched on an undercover mission. Already neck deep in, he bumps into his childhood friend who is also Barrayar’s runaway Emperor. Miles must complete his mission, keep Gregor safe until they can return home, and dodge the increasingly unfriendly foes ranged against him. Easy.

I love the character of Miles, he is so witty and very sarcastic. He’s under no illusions about himself and the disadvantages his medical condition gives him, yet he tries his utmost anyway. The pace is good if a little frantic at times but I think this just adds to the charm of the series. The plot has more twists than a twisty thing but you can follow it easily as each turn comes along. This is just a thoroughly enjoyable read!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 112008
 

At 17, Miles Naismith Vorkosigan is eager to join the Barrayar Military Service but his body lets him down. Courtesy of the assassination attempt on his father when he was in his mother’s womb, it wrecked his bones, leaving them brittle and prone to fracture from little stress. On a visit to his maternal grandmother on Beta Colony, he accidentally forms a mercenary fleet called the Dendarii free mercenaries and uncovers a plot against his father. He must fulfill obligations he made, avoid treason charges back home and save his father from those that would see him fall.

I thoroughly enjoyed this installment of the Vorkosigan Saga. Miles is an engaging and funny character who tries his best to see those around him safe, even at huge cost to himself. I would have liked to have seen more of Aral and Cordelia but since the book was focused on their son, it wouldn’t have made much sense. The pace was good, the action exciting and the speed at which Miles’ mind works was often dizzying. I didn’t want to put it down and happily have the next book waiting – The Vor Game.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 042008
 

Commander Cordelia Naismith of the Betan Astronomical Survey team finds herself stranded on the surface of the latest planet she, and her team, were surveying for colonisation suitability. After an attack forced the majority of her colleagues to leave the planet to save their lives, she was left downside with a horribly injured companion, few supplies and one of the enemy who was apparently as stranded as she was. The Butcher of Komarr, Lord Aral Vorkosigan of Barrayar was a victim of Mutiny and betrayal that threatened the core of honour bound Barrayaran society and, as Commander Naismith realised, much more to him than met the eye. After rescue and escape, distrust from her own people, Cordelia throws her lot in with the enigmatic Vorkosigan who is not without troubles of his own. Can they do what must be done, with honour?

Cordelia’s Honor is actually 2 books – Shards of Honor and Barrayar that were published together to make a continuous story of the life of Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan. They run consecutively and to my mind make a great single volume. This is the first book by Lois McMaster Bujold I’ve read, and it definitely won’t be the last. By the end of the first chapter I was hooked, the flow of the story and the characterisations just superb. Sometimes sentence structure was a little complex but that smoothed out towards the middle. It didn’t detract from the story nor put me off continuing eagerly. It actually has so many facets to it, I can’t imagine there not being something in it for everyone. It’s a love story as well as a war story. It’s science fiction along with fantasy and the history side follows old russian society lines. The differences between Betan and Barrayan values is very distinct and Bujold’s writing manages to display both at the same time even in the same conversation. Cordelia is very urbane and can be amusingly sarcastic whereas Aral Vorkosigan is very military and can be almost rigid but also ironic. They bring out the best in each other and it’s great to see how they evolve from their original personalities to who they are by the end of the book. I don’t have the next in the series but I will be getting it as soon as I can!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 032008
 

… is finally a promise kept ;)

Several years ago, a good friend of mine (Graham!) urged me to read Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga. I bought the first book and it has since languished on my shelves, looking forlorn. Another friend of mine (Jody!) who is another book nut made me promise to read it, and that was a couple of years ago ;)

After a recent conversation about it with Jody, I finally dug it out and started it, almost certain it would be OK, but not fire me up. How wrong I was! :)

I’m about half way through Cordelia’s Honor and loving it. I hate it when people are so right ;)

Will do a full review when I’m finished :)

Thanks Graham and Jody!