[Book Review] Romance on the lam

Book Review: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold

Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga, #15)(Vorkosigan Saga #15)

I can’t believe it’s been fifteen books already. Here is the latest installment in this military space opera series, following Ivan Vorpatril. In the past, Ivan has played the Watson to the series protagonist Miles’ Sherlock Holmes. But with Captin Vorpatril’s Alliance, it’s his turn to get his very own book.

Captain Ivan Vorpatril, confirmed bachelor, is happy as an admiral’s aide on an easy assignment, far from the politicking of the empire. On the other side of town, Tej Arqua and the exotic blue-skinned Rish are on the run, assassins on their heels and a price on their heads.

And of course, Tej and Rish’s troubles soon become Ivan’s very big and inconvenient problem. 

Bujold does it again – the novel is a rollercoaster of plots and resolutions, all with the humor and wit we’ve come to expect and love in her Miles’ series. I wasn’t very keen on reading a book from Ivan’s point of view (he’d never really struck me as an exciting character), but man, was I wrong. Ivan is great. He’s my favorite. I want more books about Ivan. 

There is a bit of a drag near the middle when we slip into the often-used and always-frustrating issue of romantic miss-communication – made all the more obvious because the story alternates points of view between Tej and Ivan. If only the characters could get together for a few minutes to talk, there would be no more plot! But, happily, real disasters and explosions happen too.

While you could read this as a standalone, it would be a terrible idea. The book is speckled with references to characters, events and places from previous books. You don’t have to have read all all the fourteen previous books, but with each one you have read, you get more of the references and in-jokes. It’s a delight to revisit some of our favorites and see them from Ivan’s point of view – there’s Miles and his family, Illyian, and Gregor, and all sorts of references to the events of the last fourteen books. But let’s be honest, with this title, you’re probably already a fan if you’re reaching for the book.

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