Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Can Ivan prove he’s actually related to his cousin Miles?
We all know that Ivan is anything but an idiot, a favorite descriptor (Ivan-You-Idiot) of cousins and compatriots, but he manages to skate through life by doing as little and committing as little as possible, perhaps due to a couple of overachieving family members which include Emperor Gregor and the Little Admiral “Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing to Excess” Naismith. Or is it because he’s too close to the throne? To his loving, but sometimes helicoptering mother?
Ivan is on his own when he falls into a somewhat Miles-like complication. In an effort to save a damsel from arrest and deportation (or death), Ivan makes use of his handy breakfast groats and marries her. It’s a funny, frantic romp with in-laws, outlaws, bioengineered humans and bacteria, and the odd moment of murderous peril.
An enjoyable read and a great addition to the Vorkosigan universe. I recently rebought all the Vorkosigan books as in Kindle format. (I know, it’s OCD, since I have them all in hardcover, but…) I meant to start at the beginning and read my way through just for the fun of it, but I was distracted by remembering the humor and wit in this novel where Ivan of “Ivan, you idiot!” was finally allowed to star in a story of his own. Yep, it’s just as fun as the first time I read it. Highly recommended along with all the other Vorkosigan novels, plus Shards of Honor and Barrayar, which are Cordelia’s story.
has the dubious fortune of the hyperactive Miles Vorkosigan as a cousin, which has too-often led to his getting dragged into one of Miles’ schemes, with risk to life and limb—and military career—that Ivan doesn’t consider entirely fair. Although much practice has made Ivan more adept at fending off his mother’s less-than-subtle reminders that he should be getting married and continuing the Vorpatril lineage.
Fortunately, his current duty is on the planet Komarr as staff officer to Admiral Desplains, far from both his cousin and his mother back on their homeworld of Barrayar. It’s an easy assignment and nobody is shooting at him. What could go wrong?
Plenty, it turns out, when Byerly Vorrutyer, an undercover agent for Imperial Security, shows up on his doorstep and asks him to make the acquaintance of a young woman, recently arrived on Komarr, who seems to be in danger. That Byerly is characteristically vague about the nature of the danger, not to mention the lady’s name, should have been Ivan’s first clue, but Ivan is no more able to turn aside from aiding a damsel in distress than he could resist trying to rescue a kitten from a tree.
It is but a short step down the road of good intentions to the tangle of Ivan’s life, in trouble with the Komarran authorities, with his superiors, and with the lethal figures hunting the mysterious but lovely Tej and her exotic blue companion Rish—a tangle to test the lengths to which Ivan will go as an inspired protector.
But though his predicament is complicated, at least Ivan doesn’t have to worry about hassle from family. Or so he believes . . .