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review 2017-02-20 22:09
Penric and the Shaman
Penric and the Shaman - Lois McMaster Bujold

In the midst of all the chaos of recent events, Penric and the Shaman was a gloriously gentle read. We jump back into Penric's life about four years after the events of Penric's Demon, after he has become comfortable with his place in the world. But when Senior Locator Oswyl asks for the support of a sorcerer in chasing down a dangerous shaman, Penric finds himself setting off on a quest led by the rather disapproving Oswyl into the rural mountains in search of a stolen ghost.

I thought Penric and the Shaman did a nice job unifying the world of The Hallowed Hunt with the rest of the Five Gods stories: we get to see the uneasy interactions between the church of the Five Gods and the nature-worshipping shaman, and the interplay between their two magics. The story itself is told from three perspectives: that of Penric, Oswyl, and also Inglis, the shaman himself. It's a bit slow-paced, and I had a hard time seeing how things could be brought to a conclusion that would fit the mood of the rest of the book, but I found myself satisfied throughout, always able to enjoy the gentle banter and measured pace. I especially loved how it explored the humanity of all the players in the story-- there are no true villains in the book, which makes it a wonderful read if you're feeling stressed and depressed. Last, I love the way this whole series respectfully explores religion. For instance, take one of my favourite quotes:

"For all that we trust the gods, I think we can trust them to know the difference between humor and blasphemy."



~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Subterranean Press, in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!~~

Cross-posted on Goodreads.

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review 2017-01-29 03:41
Diversified Interests
Cryoburn - Lois McMaster Bujold

I knew this wasn't the first book in the series, but I decided to check it out from the library and listen to it anyway. Very enjoyable. Miles is an appealing lead character. I loved that Miles isn't your typical hero as far as looks. He's not very tall and he has medical issues that have affected his looks. It doesn't matter at all, because he has presence. And I love a smart guy who's solving mysteries. Miles is more or less a space detective. I like detective in any setting, but it was fun to read a science fiction book with detectives in it. I read this while I was working on my final painting for my class, and it more than kept me company. The narrator was good, he had a pleasant voice, sort of like an older English butler. It worked for me.

The story involves corporate corruption and cryostasis. Quite a combination. I liked how multicultural the cast of characters were. It sort of reminded me of how in Firefly, the Chinese culture has dominated and its reflected in the dialogue and names of people. In this case, there is a good mix of various Asian cultures, along with other ethnicities. There is plenty of suspense, but a lot of wry humor, which is always welcome. It didn't mess things up for me that I hadn't read the first book. Instead I am intrigued to read about Miles' parents Aral and Cordelia, and fortunately I do have that book.

I know I'm not giving this book justice in this review. My brain is pretty fried, so this will have to do.

I recommend this.

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review 2017-01-27 21:09
Book Review: Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold
Young Miles - Lois McMaster Bujold

This is easily one of my favorite books ever. Honestly, I didn’t think it would be. My college roommate hyped it up like crazy, so when I finally got to reading it, I was expecting disappointment because it didn’t seem like it was going to be as good as she promised.

 

But it was.

 

This particular edition consists of two novels and a short story that all revolve around a young man named Miles Vorkosigan who has a birth defect (not congenital, he frequently assures others) and because of that is fragile. His bones break under the smallest pressure and he’s less than five feet tall. The problem is that he was born on a militant planet to a very important family. When he washes out of the military academy, he has to find his own path to greatness — and find it he certainly does.

What impressed me the most about this book (and the rest of the series) is the level of characterization. Firstly, I love Miles. He is practically a cripple, but he doesn’t let that stop him, because while his body is weak, he is a genius. I appreciate that Bujold has created a character that doesn’t go into situations and use his strength or extreme fighting prowess to save the day; instead, he thinks about solutions and launches schemes to achieve his goals.

 

Second, all the characters are written in shades of grey; she shows the softer sides of rampaging killers and the darker sides of sheltered researchers. This is achieved through ingenious storytelling. With adventure, mystery, suspense, and plot twists that give you whiplash, I kept turning the pages and the characters kept evolving and growing. All this, combined with in-depth universe (not world) building and fascinating cultures, this book made me want more and more and more.

 

And don’t think it’s all just running around and doing brave deeds — though there is a lot of that — Bujold adds a lot of humor to these books and I found myself laughing aloud quite often.

 

I really can’t recommend this book strongly enough. It’s SO good! And I don’t think it’s just for science fiction fans; there is plenty of material for all kinds of readers to find something they like.

Source: www.purplereaders.com/?p=1141
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review 2017-01-25 17:15
Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold - My Thoughts
Beguilement (Sharing Knife Series #1) - Lois McMaster Bujold

This book was a surprise to me.  I wasn't expecting quite as much romance.  I think part of that is that a good friend of mine really loved these books and she's not so much of a romance nor a fantasy reader.

The first half of the book tells the fantasy tale of Fawn, a young woman farmer, who is running away from her home and family, and Dag, a veteran Lakewalker patroller possessed of some very interesting magic.  They have adventures fighting the malice - bad, awful, deadly, gross horrors that threaten their world.

Then, close to the middle of the book, we turn to the more romantic side of the tale as the two begin to get to know each other and fall in love.  Of course, their vastly different cultures hold myriads of pitfalls and difficulties, never mind their big difference in age.  But it's really a fun romance, I thought.  I enjoyed it alot and I also enjoyed how Dag was able to be Fawn's protector with her family and how he encouraged her to be her own woman.

I only gave the book 3.5 stars because it felt rather unfinished.  It seems, as I discovered near the end of my reading, that Beguilement is actually the first half of a full book,  The second book, Legacy, is the other part of the volume.  Beguilement is about Fawn's people and how they react to the could and it seems that Legacy will be about how Dag's people will react.  And you know... I've grown to kind of resent books that do this.  I tend to feel tricked.  In retrospect, I wish I'd maybe waited to read this until I had book 2 in hand - but now I shall wait until it goes on sale.  :)

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-11-19 10:27
Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold
Brothers in Arms - Lois McMaster Bujold

The Dendarii reach Earth for supplies, medical aide and monetary compensation, and while Miles tries to sort all this out, he gets to know Duv Galeni, essentially his superior in Barrayar's Embassy on Earth, a Komarran who lost his family during the Komarran occupation and now serves as some kind of poster boy for the integration of Komarrans into the Imperial service. And Miles has to juggle his various identities, coming up on the spot with a clone theory when his cover as Admiral Naismith is threatened to be blown. Little does he know at that moment that there's more truth to his invention than he's dreamed possible.

 

"Brothers in Arms" introduces two major players within the saga: There's Duv Galeni who's going to become one of Miles's closest allies within the service (of course, while grumbling about it), and then there's Miles's clone brother Mark, created by Galeni's father to replace Miles, take over the Empire and usher in a revolution from within against the Vorkosigans and from without in the form of another Cetagandan invasion... at least that's the plan.

 

Duv Galeni's quite a complex character. As Komarran he's always under suspicion, yet he was admitted into the Imperial Service thanks to Aral. As a history scholar he knows to question what he's been told about the Barrayaran annexion of Komarr, and he knows that sometimes you have to leave the past behind to embrace the future. His confrontation with his father, whom he thought dead, puts all that he's worked for in danger. I absolutely appreciate Galeni, he's complex, he's honest and honorable, and he thinks before acting (something Miles has troubles with at times). And I love the fact that Aral's hunches about people pay off here again, a skill Miles has inherited from his father, to gather people around himself who are not afraid to speak their mind, who are loyal and worthy of Miles (and Aral)'s high regard and loyalty in return.

 

Speaking of Miles: He's got to convince his adolescent clone who's come to hate him - who wouldn't after having had to endure countless surgeries to physically resemble Miles, endless conditioning to resemble him in his manners and be able to pass off for him (even fooling Ivan who arguably knows Miles best) -, who's come to hate everything Barrayaran that actually there might be a real place for him within Miles's family, within the Barrayaran Empire. The confrontations between those two were definitely the highlight of this novel - and again show off Miles's people skills, his awareness of his unique origin, his loneliness as an only child (and the reasons for that)... and Mark's own yearning for a family and home even though he's not yet ready to act on that and face Barrayar as his own man, not a puppet of a fanatic.

 

On a sidenote, especially in the light of "Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen", I paid particular attention to Miles saying that, although Aral and Cordelia could have had more children due to advances in medical science especially on Beta, they didn't even consider going down that route due to Miles's ambiguous standing in Barrayaran society.

 

Things are about to come to a head soon: Is Miles ready to face life on Barrayar? Or are the strings attaching him to the Dendarii, his position at the head of command, not being weighed down by his physical impediments and common prejudice, and Elli who's not willing to settle down on backward Barrayar, too strong? Are Admiral Naismith's days counted anyway now that the Cetagandan might have discovered Miles undercover role? And Mark? Where's he going to pop up next? Great setup for the next stage in the Vorkosigan-saga.

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