My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Someone said that this book was a lot better than Shards of Honor. I thought it was much worse. The first half of the book was pure political drama setting up for the action-packed last quarter of the book. Unfortunately, because of the way the author chose to name all of the lords and lordlings, things get very confusing.
My main beef with Barrayar was personality changes that both Vorkosigan and Cordelia went through. Cordelia in the first book was a strong-willed, clever woman who wasn’t hung up on gender roles. Cordelia in this book was a whiney, stubborn woman who’s only goal was to first have a son, and then later, to save this unborn son, even at the cost of her close friends, lots of death, and extended political turmoil.
Vorkosigan in this book turned into some no-direction, one-dimensional character that seemed to be hiding in the late emperor’s shadow. Maybe that’s what the author was trying to convey, but I rather liked him in Shards of Honor, and was just annoyed with him in this book.
To make up for my dislike of the two main characters, I found myself gravitating to the supporting cast this time. Koudelka and Drou’s attempt at flirting was entertaining and I was relieved when they finally found a way to resolve their relationship.
I’m still torn about the Bothari character. The author takes great pains to point that he’s mentally unstable. Funny how he always manages to find his stability to save the day in any situation that requires brawn. In fact, it’s annoying how Cordelia *always* succeeds. There’s just no tension at all because she always gets what she wants.
Perhaps I’m cold and I have no mothering instinct at all, but I was annoyed at Cordelia’s reaction to the whole baby situation. She was willing to cause more political strife to try and save one unborn life. It seemed incredibly selfish to me, and I was hoping Cordelia was beyond that. Because of my annoyance of the central plot, I was disengaged from the entire book. Not sure if I want to read the rest now. I guess I should at least give the actual Miles books a try.