Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold

Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga)

Summary: Ivan finally gets to play lead in this long running series.

Science fiction is such a moldable setting.  There are the hard science books, the space opera, the mystical fantasy books, the near term commentary and a ton more.  Readers that dismiss genre fiction are really missing out. (Slate had an article about Ursula Le Guin that made this point well.)

For me, there are two types of science fiction types that I really like.  One is the idea fiction.  Use a science fiction setting to create a world and take it to its logical conclusion to explore various ideas about society, religion, ethic and/or philosophy.

The other type is the hero story.  This is a wide group.  It can include everything from Star Wars to Ender’s Game.

The Vorkosigan saga is the second type.  Most of the series is devoted to Miles, Ivan’s cousin, a genius that was injured in the womb and has all kinds of medical problems.  He dies a couple of times in the series and gets brought back to life (science fiction allows a lot of medical science options).  There are a couple  books about Miles’ parents and some short stories about other people.

This is the first time Ivan has had a whole book.  Ivan has always been the comic relief in the series.  He has a reputation as a womanizer, but also for being a bit lazy and not interested in advancement.  Ivan is next in line to the throne in much of the series and has absolutely no interest in it.

In this book, Ivan is the aide to an Admiral.  He is on short term posting and an old friend pops up.  The friend is an uncover spy that Ivan has worked with through Miles previously.  Ivan is asked to go on a date with a girl to help out.  One thing leads to another and eventually Ivan realizes that people are after the girl and he protects her.

Spoiler alert: He ends up marrying her to get her off planet and keep himself from being arrested.  From the beginning you know that they will end up together.  Bujold is very pro-marriage and the last half dozen books have been marrying off most of the characters.

What I most like about Ivan is that he is an everyman.  Miles is a genius that can do anything.  Mark (Miles cloned brother) is a financial genius that will end up running the economy.  Greggor, their cousin that is the Emperor, always makes the right decisions for the empire.  But Ivan is nothing special.  He is handsome.  But does not want to be in charge of anything or own the world or be the great super spy.  He just is a nice guy.

And in this book the nice guy gets the girl.  This is more a romance book than the rest of the series.  But it is a good book.  It could be read as a stand alone, but you will be lost occasionally until enough details play out.

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance Purchase Links: Hardcover, Audiobook, Multiformat ebook (works with Kindle, Nook, Kobo and other readers, no DRM, $6)

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