Top critical review
Disappointing and superficial
on February 17, 2004
Having just finished "Shards of Honor" and "Barrayar", I simply couldn't wait to pick up the first book in the Miles Vorkosigan series. Unfortunately for me, it seems Mrs. Bujold has shifted tones when going from Cordelia to her son Miles.
Where Cordelia's novels were sometimes funny, sometimes inclined to the romantic, but as a whole well-crafted and dramatic, "The Warrior's Apprentice" feels more like a running joke. It seems Mrs. Bujold has decided she would show Miles is human by making him whine, cry, puke his guts out and tremble in fear most of the time, 'in aparté' for the reader. Oh, he also lusts after Elena a lot, and shows us his noble streak by going down the 'unrequited love' path. Bleh.
What is particularly irritating about the novel is the way things just fall in place conveniently for Miles. Miles' genius is that which comes forth in second-rate novels, where it is not so much the protagonist that is intelligent, but the rest of the Universe that is downright dumb. Miles recruits people by stuttering half-baked lies; he exposes imperial schemes by confronting admirals with his sharp wit; he outwits entire armies by concocting plans full of assumptions that his enemies conveniently fall into.
I realize this novel is intended as light reading, but so were "Shards of Honor" and "Barrayar". They were light reading, filled with drama, action and humor, and a certain dose of romance. "The Warrior's Apprentice" feels like a bad imitation of all that made the Cordelia books so great, and all the characters from these two books are here only as cardboard cutouts reminding us of the clichés at the heart of the vibrant characters we grew to love previously.
I wish Miles were more like his mother.