Accidental mercenary

The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga, #2)The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Huh. Didn’t they give you any medical treatment?”
“Oh, sure. I’ve had an Inquisition’s worth. That’s why I can walk around today, instead of being carried in a bucket.”

After meeting baby Miles at the end of Barrayar, I finally got to know the main protagonist of the Vorkosigan Saga.

Part of buddy reading the series with SpecFic in chronological order.

This book didn’t pull its punches and got right into the middle of the action. Still, I felt no great need to keep going and it took me a week to just get past the first third of the book. Seems to be a pattern for me with this series. The beginning seemingly drags a lot and about 30 to 40% it gets more interesting. I just wish these books would pick up speed a little faster. I know, I am contradicting myself. Maybe it’s the narrative of the series in general that doesn’t hold my attention? Although, I have to admit that it is quite funny to read about Miles digging the hole he is standing in deeper and deeper…

I was entertained, I laughed, but I also skimmed. Nice plot, but also not really doing it for me. I don’t know, I guess I will have to read another one!

3.25 undecided stars…

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Cordelia goes for it…

Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga, #7)Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book in my chronological series read of the Vorkosigan Saga. Published as the 7th book of the series. All about Cordelia and Aral and complementing the story that started in Shards of Honor. Their early days on Barrayar, about family, politics, intrigue and war.

This time I went for the kindle version, as I did not enjoy the first two audiobooks very much. The narrator came across as very old fashioned and it gave the previous two books a very dated feel. I am happy to report that I liked this much better. And if I should ever decide to re-read the first two books, it will certainly be in the printed version, not on audio. Apparently there is another narrator for the later books and if I should come across him, I might give him a try.

Slow start, slow build-up, very nice world-building. Barrayar came to life quite nicely.

Characterization are good, although I struggled at times to keep all these people apart, with their similar sounding family names. The relationship between Cordelia and Aral is kept very low key. Her struggles Piotr and the assembled Vor nobility were amusing to read though. I assume that I will not meet any of these characters again, at least for several books. I will miss Koudelka, Bothari and Droushnakovi.

The action and adventure part of the plot towards the end of the book was entertaining and suspenseful. Especially once Cordelia had enough of male stupidity and went for it. Kick-ass, woman! I salute you!

3.75 points, looking forward to the next book!

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Proper space opera…

Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga, #1)Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio version again. Really not a fan of Grover Gardner. His voice makes it sound so dated. Well, it is, but it would be nice, if the narration was a bit more… I don’t know. Lively? It sounds as if he’s reading it sitting on a park bench, whilst feeding some squirrels or knitting socks… Maybe I need to switch to the ebook for the next book in this chronological buddy read.

The two main characters are likeable enough. I couldn’t relate to either of them very well at first, but Cordelia grew on me in the second half of the book. Vorkosigan and the supporting characters stayed a little one-dimensional.

There is a very strange rape-attempt scene in the middle. My issue is perhaps more with Bujold’s writing than with how the character reacts. I am told what the character thinks, but I don’t actually experience the situation with her. It might also have to do with the audiobook narration, i.e. the narrator giving her a voice that I do not like much. I am not really sure, though. Which enforces my idea to actually read the next book, not listen to it.

World building is good, I really liked the animal life on the planet they were stranded on in the beginning. I wish the adventure part of the early chapters, trecking together through a potentially hostile landscape to safety, would have been a stronger and more exciting narrative. Instead my favourite part of the book was the fallout of Cordelia’s adventures, when she returned back to Beta Colony.

Bottom line, a little better than ok, not great.

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Free falling, all hands…

Falling FreeFalling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Our intrepid engineer Leo starts a new job and gets to know genetically engineered humans–optimized for life in free fall, with another set of arms instead of legs. Fittingly they are called quaddies. They are also treated as something less than human and our engineer finds himself in the position of wanting to help the underdogs.

This hasn’t aged well. It feels pretty old-fashioned and quite a little sexist. If you can get past that, the story is entertaining.

The audiobook narrator does a decent job, but could have given more distinct voices to the various characters. Those are all pretty one-dimensional.

Leo is the nice guy, Mr. Fix-it, and apparently based on Bujold’s father, who was an engineer and wrote a definitive book on non-destructive testing.

The bad guy is a proper slimebag, the quaddies are all nice, naive kids.

Bujold’s imagery is very vivid. The story is well plotted and paced, if a little predictable. Every now and then she geeks out and over-indulges in engineering babble.

The ending feels a bit as if there could have been more, and I read somewhere that Bujold had indeed planned to write another book to tell the rest of the story.

Chronologically Falling Free is the first book in the Vorkosigan Saga. It is more of a prequel though, as it is set 200 years before the main series, without the central character of the series.

I plan to buddy read the whole series with some friends, in the mentioned chronological order, not in order of publication. Let’s see how far I get!

Better than just ok, but not great, 3.5 stars.

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