For those not familiar with the author and series, the “Vorkosigan Saga” is a series of standalone novels (and a few novellas) that together tell the story of two generations of a very unusual family in a SF universe in which interstellar travel is relatively easy using the Wormhole Nexus. Wikipedia’s summary article does a fairly good job of summarizing the stories without giving too much away for those who have not yet read them in most cases. The stories are as much character-driven as plot-driven, and in general excellently written – several have won or been finalists for Hugo or Nebula awards.
The most recent story, Cryoburn, is set eight years later than the immediately previous one (by internal chronology – in point of fact as standalone novels this is also true of publication order, something not always the case).
I’m curious about people’s reactions to the stories generally – discuss the saga or particular novels as you see fit – with particular reference to the newest one. I have some comments on the latter but want to reserve them until others have commented.
I quite enjoyed the first few books with Miles, but A Civil Campaign and Winterfair Gifts didn’t do it for me at all. Bujold is a talented writer but sometimes gets a bit touchy feely (and Mary Sue-y) for me.
Bujold is one of my favorite authors, but Cryoburn was IMO the second worst book of hers that I’ve read (and I’ve read just about all of them except for “Falling Free” and “Ethan of Athos”).
The worst was the third one in the Chalion cycle; I don’t even remember the name, something about a hunt. It seemed like a completely unrelated book that maybe she wrote a long time ago and couldn’t sell, so she added a couple references to the Chalion universe and put one over on the publishers.
Anyway, Cryoburn was a letdown. Miles didn’t seem that smart, the dialog didn’t seem that witty, and the plot was just plain uninteresting. In fact, I may reconsider whether it should be second worst.
Hallowed Hunt. Certainly the weakest of the Chalion novels, but I still quite liked it. It has one if the better villains she’s written. Overall, I don’t think Bujold has ever written a bad book, although some of her earlier ones are a bit pedestrian. The Chalion novels (Hunt included) are among her best. I love the Vorkosigan novels, particularly the later ones, but prior to Mirror Dance or thereabouts, they feel a little insubstantial, like the whole series takes place in a universe with maybe 100000 people in it. In the Chalion books, and even moreso in The Sharing Knife series, there’s more of a feeling of a complete world underlying the story.
I borrowed it from the library as a gift for Typo Knig (long-standing tradition we have, a gift that doesn’t take up space after you’re done with it…). He read it first.
He knew when I’d gotten to the last couple of pages when he heard me yell
DAMMIT - SHE KILLED ARAL!!!
I’d say this ending says she’s well and truly done with Miles as a main character. Hadn’t heard of the Ivan book but she’s in the past hinted that he’s not as dumb as he seems, so it’d be pretty cool if she wrote him up as sneaking a whole career of his own without Miles twigging to it!
I like the Vorkosigan books. The two with Cordelia are still my favorites: Shards of Honor and Barrayar. I read those first, and it was a bit jarring to switch to Miles as the main characer, but he grew on me.
I though *Cryoburn *was a fun read, but not one of the best of the series. After that ending it was awfully tempting to launch into a re-read of all the books. By the way, all of the Vorkosigan novels except for Cryoburn are available as free e-books. The *Cryoburn *hardcover came with a CD full of them, which I promptly loaded onto my new Kindle, even though I have paper copies.
I’ve read the Chalion books, and I have a copy of the first Sharing Knife book, but it sounds so much like something I won’t like that I’ve been hesitant to start it.
What makes you think you won’t like the Sharing Knife series?
Think of it as a non romantic romance, or a fantasy magic world that actually doesn’t have magic. [it is sort of difficult to categorize, it isn’t exactly a classical romance, and it doesn’t have magic but it is technically fantasy because it is set in an alternate universe that bears a resemblance to the Ohio river valley and the Mississippi river valley with a tech level of pregunpowder but no indians or europeans and it might possibly be distant future or not. ]
Barrayar is the only book to ever make me miss my subway stop. I was just at the point where they were facing down Vordarian, and I looked up in time to see the doors close.
Miles has been one of my favorite characters for years. I hesitated to read any of Bujold’s other books simply because I was afraid I wouldn’t enjoy anything that he wasn’t in. I owned the first Sharing Knife book for a long time before I opened it. But once I started, I raced straight through all four. I love the way she creates believable worlds without taking up narrative space with explaining how they work. You learn things bit by bit along with the characters.
Cryoburn was enjoyable enough but seemed like a bit of fluff after some of the previous much darker stories. I laughed all the way through it, right up to the last page, when I almost dropped the book in shock. Should’ve seen it coming, but somehow never did. I felt like I’d suffered a personal loss.
The descriptions and reviews I’ve read just don’t make it sound interesting. Magic knives and a romance that ensues when a wise older hero named Dag rescues a naive young farm girl named Fawn?
It gets mixed reviews from the people I follow on Goodreads. I just need to get in the right mood to give it a chance. I may very well like it - I haven’t disliked anything from Bujold yet, that’s why I bought the book in the first place.
The series does have a bit of a Harlequin Romance vibe to it, which is not my usual thing by any means, but they’re still very good books. Of her previous books, they’re closest in tone to A Civil Campaign, with the occasional attack by eldritch abominations. Bujold handles the transitions from light domestic comedy to HP Lovecraft very well.
That is sort of why I called it a nonromantic romance - girl meets boy, gets frisky oops, hits the road. girl hides from guy up a tree, then meets monster, boy saves girl, leaves her somewhere ‘safe’ except the monster comes back, they kill monster, and life goes on from there.
The magic knife isn’t so magic, it is more ritual - it has one purpose and that is all it does - convince the malices to die.
It is actually more slapstick romance. And it isn’t rainbow pooping unicorn magyk romance at all.
I’ve been slowly making my way through the Vorkosigan books since I saw a recommendation a few months back on some other website. I’m about halfway through the series. They’re OK, but I don’t think I’d call them anything special. Just serviceable sci-fi.
Ok, you guys make the Sharing Knife books sound better, I’ll have to bump *Beguilement *up on my list.
Does anyone else think that *Cryoburn *was a really bad title? The other choices Bujold had considered were Cold Breath and Cryopolis, which I guess are worse.
It’s up for a Hugo award, although I’m hoping that Connie Willis’s Blackout/All Clear will win.
I really like Cryoburn [better than some of the previous books. Not really thrilled with Mirror Dance] because I have a friend named Jin, and the Jin in the book really reminds me of my buddy and I like the way that Lois has developed the relationship between Miles and Mark, and the way she handles Aral’s death. And I like chickens =)
It is a comfortable book for me. But I have been reading and rereading the various books off and on for years.
[other favorite books are Curse of Chalion - I named my raven in LOTRO Cazaril and A Civil Campaign. When I am in pain, and want to read something that is old and familiar/comfortable these are the ones I flip my droid to.]