Diplomatic Immunity Audio Cassette – Jan 1 2008
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About the Author
Lois McMaster Bujold burst onto the SF scene in 1986 with SHARDS OF HONOUR, closely followed by BARRAYAR, and THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE, which introduced the physically handicapped military genius, Miles Vorkosigan. Since then she has won four Hugo Awards and two Nebulas. The mother of two, Bujold lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY is another book in the Miles Vorkosigan series. Like other Bujold heroes, Miles does not conform to the standard space opera hero sterotype. Debilitated by a terrorist attack while in vitro, Miles is a brilliant, devious, hyper-energetic mind trapped in an abnormally short, hunch-backed, fragile body.
In this addition to the series, the Emperor of Barryar interrupts Miles and his new wife on their honeymoon to embroil him in a convoluted diplomatic struggle involving the 'quaddies' (a race of humans genetically modified for optimal zero-G living who have arms in place of legs), the Cetagandans (the ancient enemies of Barryar), and a mysterious cargo. As Miles pulls the threads to this knot all hell breaks loose, and Miles must use his lightning wit and endless energy to somehow prevent a new war between his planet and the Cetagandans and a bio-terrorist threat on the entire quaddie race.
Bujold has chalked another of my sleepless night up to her exciting and fast-paced novels. Even though I was vastly entertained, I found this book a little disappointing. While other Miles books often had a more serious undercurrent of the difficulties of Miles living in the militaristic Barraryaran society and his unquenchable desire to succeed despite his handicaps, this book is more of a straight adventure story with little character growth. While one of the weaker books in the entire series, fans of Miles should still find this book very entertaining and a worthwhile read.
As a note for those new to the Vorkosigan books, don't start here. Instead, check out the collection of the first Miles books in YOUNG MILES or start off even earlier and learn about Miles's parents and the Barraryaran society in the collection CORDELIA'S HONOR.
Dav's Rating System:
5 stars - Loved it, and kept it on my bookshelf.
4 stars - Liked it, and gave it to a friend.
3 stars - OK, finished it and gave it to the library.
2 stars - Not good, finished it, but felt guilty and/or cheated by it.
1 star - I want my hour back! Didn't finish the book.
In brief, it is a story of Miles playing troublshooter for a diplomatic incident gone horribly wrong in Quaddiespace - home of the quaddies first introduced in the novel "Falling Free". With tensions between quaddie and the Barrayarans stretched, tensions between Cetaganda and Barrayaer taking a turn for the worse, tensions between the trader Komarrans and the militarstic Barrayarns never far below the surface and a deadline for Miles and Ekaterin to return home for the birth of their first children, and deaths reported on the Quaddies' Graf Station, everything seems stretched to the breaking point even in the first chapter. As Miles investigates the situation, a relatively simple murder mystery rapidly transforms into a very palpable suspense with ties to many aspects of Miles' past.
As implied, it helps greatly to be familiar with Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga universe before reading this book. In particular, the events of "Falling Free", "Cetaganda", "Mirror Dance" and "A Civil Campaign" all feature with varying degrees of prominence in the story. While one could take the novel on it's own merits and probably enjoy it very much, it is much more effective when taken within previously established history.
While not her singularly finest Vorkosigan book to date, it is nonetheless quite good and is certainly better than the majority of science fiction available today and ranks in quality with most of the rest of her series. It weaves together old strands of plot - perhaps eternally tying up one or two - while leaving other others wide open to, undoubtedly, bedevil Miles in the future. I most certainly recommend this to the Vorkosigan fans eagerly awaiting the next installment of the series, but I would steer first time Lois McMaster Bujold readers back to "Shards of Honor" or, perhaps, if not wishing to go back quite so far, "Komarr".
This is yet another winner, but it somehow felt less consequential then most of the Vorkosigan books. The previous books have almost been "event" books in Miles's life, while this one just seemed a bit ordinary. Sure, there is the birth of their children, but that mainly provides an impetus for Miles and Ekaterin to finish the problem as soon as possible, rather than being an event in itself. It's nice to see Miles again, but I guess we've been spoiled by the previous books into expecting even more. Perhaps that's not this book's fault, though.
The mystery itself is very intriguing. Bujold provides lots of twists and turns. Miles gets to use his vast intelligence to solve the problem and there's a bit of action. Bujold excels at creating characters, and that's definitely shown here. We already love Miles and Ekaterin, but the old friend of Miles who shows up is also wonderfully portrayed. Even the new people (mostly Quaddies) are well done. You can clearly see the frustration and desperation in the Quaddie security chief, Venn, as events spiral out of his control. There is not a false character in the bunch. The only minor annoyance is that there is no reason to make the Barrayaran Admiral a relation to Miles's cousin Ivan. Nothing is made of it and it just seems a bit too cute. Of course, if this is your first book of the series, then that won't bother you.
She's created a very interesting society in Quaddiespace. Quaddies live in a mostly zero gravity environment, which gives them more mobility with their four arms. If they are in a gravity area, they are in anti-gravity floaters in order to move around. The society and the politics of the area are very well done. The political machinations are interesting and the reader watches the situation escalate and wonders how things are going to turn out. Throughout this series, Bujold has done a wonderful job building this entire area of space, making each society believable, and she's done well again.
There isn't as much humour in this book as in the past books. It doesn't even compare to A Civil Campaign, which was a comedy. However, it's also missing some of the gentle humour that was in the series before. It's not a dark book by any means, it's actually fairly light. But you won't find yourself smiling much as you read this one. It also drags a bit toward the end, and in a 307 page book, that's not necessarily a good thing.
Still, it's nice to see another Miles adventure. I certainly did enjoy the book, and I can't wait for the next one. I guess I just expect a bit more from Bujold, and she didn't quite deliver. I think it's a very good book, just not a great book. However, it is a great jumping on point if you want to "test the waters" of the Vorkosigan universe. It's completely self-contained and any backstory you need is thoroughly explained. There may be a few references that make you stop and wonder, but most of those aren't necessary for understanding the plot. If you enjoy this one, then take heart in the fact that it's not the best, so you'll have even better books to read when you start reading the series from the beginning. And I know you will. Miles can be addicting, even when he's not at his best.
"Diplomatic Immunity" is a bit of a puzzle. It is a murder mystery of sorts, as well as the sort of fiendishly complicated trap that Ms. Bujold likes to set for Miles. It includes both his wife Ekaterin & Miles old friend Bel Thorne, though they don't really do much to speak of. It gives some great backstory on Miles' bodyguard Armsman Roik and seems on the brink of using him for much more than the "beefcake" roll of the previous Vor novel, but then backs away for no apparent reason.
The villain, while not a total rehash of a previous book, is pretty close. I am doubtfull whether a new reader to the series would understand the motivations of the villain, and equally sure that a longtime reader will find nothing new here. Nothing that makes sense, that is. This book advances a new theory of the basis of power in a neighboring galactic empire that makes much less sense than that implied in a previous book. The quaddies, and especially their opera, are woefully underused and I finished the book knowing very little new about them and their society.
This book is worth reading if you are a long time reader desperate for some new Vor material, but would be very confusing to a new reader. ...
Actually, the previous sentence reminds me to warn first-time Bujold readers: this is not the book you want to start with. For a long time, the Vorkosigan books were rather independant of each other; it was possible to just pick up any of the series and give it a go. But as time (and plot) go by, characters and motiviations have begun to build on each other. I recommend reading Bujold books in the order they were written.
Lord Miles Vorkosigan and Madame Ekaterin Vorsoisson have not only gotten married, they've made it to the honeymoon, nearly one year later. But of course, in Miles's universe, nothing goes according to plan. Miles is an Imperial Auditor of Barrayar, a fancy sounding title that really means Emperor Gregor sends him in to clean up the nasty spills with discretion.
Miles and Ekaterin are diverted off course to Graff Station, home of the quaddies. Upon arriving, Miles discovers that the Barrayaran military fleet stationed there has overreacted and created a diplomatic situation, which is of course mostly their own fault. It looks like all Miles will need to do is some fancy diplomatic shoe-stepping, while meeting up with some supporting characters we haven't seen for a while. (It's nice to know that Bel Thorne landed on its feet.)
This cozy little schema quickly goes down the [tubes]. People begin to go missing, a young hothead decides to give everything up for love, and of course the classic Miles-you-should-pay-attention-to-this warning pops up: strange people do unexplainable things that don't seem to have anything to do with the current problem.
In classic Miles/Bujold style all of the loose ends are securely tied up by the end. I do wish that there was more Ekaterin in the plot. It was nice to know that she finally became aggressive when necessary, but it would have been better to "see" her do it, instead of reading about it afterwards. She was a rather flat character in Komarr, but developed so nicely in A Civil Campaign that I hoped to see more of her.
I think of this book as one of the "Vorkosigan Lite" novels, along with Cetaganda. They're funny and great to read, but they don't have the in-depth character development and life changing events like Mirror Dance and Barrayar. But that's fine with me. Sometimes it's nice to just read an interesting story about Vorkosigans, and be able to laugh at the end.
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