The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold (The Vorkosigan Saga: Book 5)

Some books are fun from first to last. Bujold has a special talent for drawing the reader in quick and not letting go. The Vor Game is no exception, and it’s no surprise why it was selected as the first of her Hugo Award winning novels. (I think it’s just because enough people realized that there was a good series here. The Warrior’s Apprentice was just as strong of a book.) Returning to the unlikely hero of Miles Vorkosigan again, this fast paced adventure begins on an arctic island on Barryar and ends with the fate of this edge of the galaxy being decided. Bujold does not tell small tales when grand ones will do better.

Miles, now a little older and maybe a slight bit wiser, is getting his first assignment as an officer. Unfortunately, it’s to an arctic weather base – where he is to be the weatherman. His dreams of interstellar heroism seem to be smothered by boredom until he starts to uncover a mystery that could end his career as quickly as it started. Plots, political intrigue, and pirates propel Miles to take up his old persona Miles Naismith of the Dendarii Mercenaries. The real mystery is can he ever let it go again.

There is nothing bland about The Vor Game. Even the exile of Kyril Island is given depth and menace as Miles spends his time there. Without giving anything away, the interactions between Miles and the Emperor were fun and engaging. Especially well done is the grandiose figure of Miles Naismith. How he waltzes back to the head of the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet is a tightrope act that Bujold carefully maneuvers him though. In fact, the special talent of the novel is finding the knife’s edge and staying there. As a reader it makes for many a tense page – all the while being immensely enjoyable. Commander Cavilo is Miles’ match, and a beautiful young woman is hard for a young officer to resist. How the web untangles is fun the whole way.

Don’t miss out on this series. It builds with every novel and The Vor Game is a gem.

7 stars out of 10

photo: jaymantri.com

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