Book Review: The Warrior’s Apprentice

This month, I’m delving further into the enormous Vorkosigan Saga series. I’m pleased, as well, to start the Miles books, which means I’m really getting into the meat of the thing!

The Book

51jem2rtvjlThe Warrior’s Apprentice
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
1986
Amazon Link

I really liked the Vorkosigan Saga books I read in 2018 (Shards of Honor and Barrayar).  Really liked them.  I wanted to read more of the series, even if I never finish reading this enormous collection of works.

Non-Spoiler Review

This book was ok, but disappointingly not as good as the previous entries.

The main character was interesting not just because he was smart and charismatic, but because he had adequate flaws as well. He was physically crippled by brittle bones, stunted growth, and a crooked body, and that did put some people off. However, the book dealt with these issues and never made Miles out to be less than – just looked at as less than by others.

That being said, I found some of the plot elements to be a bit of a stretch. Barrayar and Shards of Honor felt more concise and well-planned. As well, this book definitely felt like the beginning of a series rather than a complete story in and of itself. While I still found the fast pacing and clever scheming enjoyable, I think the so-called Cordelia books I read earlier were of a higher caliber story.

I recommend the series so far, but I’d definitely start with Shards of Honor and Barrayar. There were a lot of things in this installment of the series that wouldn’t have made sense without the previous two works. I don’t understand, really, how McMasters Bujold wrote and published The Warrior’s Apprentice before Barrayar. If you’ve read them, you know what I mean.

SPOILERS REVIEW

Ok, here’s the real meat of the review.

Most of the story was pretty good. I really liked how Miles dealt with Baz the former deserter. I simultaneously laughed and felt very tense about Miles’s continued issues with mercenary debts.  All in all, a good story, nice military space opera.

My big issue came with some of the plot elements surrounding Elena Bothari and her father, Sergeant Bothari. Perhaps it’s because I knew what had happened in Barrayar concerning Elena’s conception and birth, but the fact that Elena’s mother was kept secret from her for 18 years – 18 years in the presence of Cordelia Naismith – really bothers me. I would have thought Elena capable of having the information, and I would have found Cordelia the type of person to tell her.

Concerning the same event, Bothari suddenly killed himself when he realized he’d raped Elena’s mother (it was complex, involved a dude brainwashing Bothari and some weird PTSD madness). I had been wondering how Miles was going to get out from Bothari’s shadow, but that response felt so weak sauce. Up until that point, Miles had been a near genius when it came to interpersonal relations, and in this instance he whiffed so hard that it felt out of place.

So yeah, the Bothari plot line was pretty rough. That being said, the book overall was alright.

Next week:

I continue the series with the next story in line: Mountains of Mourning.  It’s a novella, but I hope you’ll forgive me this one time if I do a short book. 🙂

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