Set a few years before the most recent Miles Vorkosigan story (Cryoburn, 2011), this may be one of the most anticipated and long-awaited entries to Bujold’s acclaimed Vorkosigan saga. For years fans have clamored for Ivan Vorpatril’s story, and at last Bujold delivers something that will both thrill the devoted audience and entrance new readers.
For many years, Ivan has been perfectly content to live a quiet bachelor life and serve as a staff officer to a Barrayaran admiral. With no desire for the imperial throne or the types of death-defying adventures that his cousin Miles so adores, Ivan has become a master at avoiding political intrigue and entangling alliances. Asked to look after a young woman during a brief trip to Komarr, Ivan is happy to oblige. But when his attempt to ask the woman out ends up with her handmaiden knocking him out and tying him to a chair, Ivan realizes that something very bad is going on. It quickly becomes clear that the only way Ivan can save himself and his charge is to marry Tej Arqua and bring her home to Barrayar.
Longtime readers will love seeing a new side of Ivan as well as hearing his views on many of the series characters. New readers can enjoy Ivan’s story on its own but will miss many of the nuances that add depth and character; best to begin at the beginning. Essential for all SF collections and a must-read for Bujold and Vorkosigan fans. --Jessica Moyer, Booklist.