Friday, 4 August 2017

Labyrinth by Lois McMaster Bujold

Labyrinth by Lois McMaster Bujold is a Miles Vorkosigan novella set chronologically after the events of Ethan of Athos. While I had read it before, in the Miles, Mystery & Mayhem omnibus, I didn't actually remember much about it until I got to a crucial part a substantial way into the story.

Twenty-three year old Lieutenant Miles Vorkosigan challenges the criminal underground on the planet Jackson's Whole to rescue a research scientist.

This is an enjoyable read that introduces and ongoing character and in which we meet the Dendarii mercenaries again — who haven't featured on the actual page all that much yet. But there's not very much to say about it other than that. Miles is sneaky and politically diplomatic and resourceful in a pinch (or a series of pinches). We get to spend a bit more time with Bel Thorn (some of which was a little cringeworthy), meet a quaddie for the first time (more on them later), and are introduced to Taura, who features in several future books.

But I can see why I didn't find this novella very memorable. The above are kind of important in the scheme of things, but there's not much else notable about this story. Worth reading for completion but I didn't enjoy it as much as Ethan of Athos or Cetaganda, mostly because of the depth possible in the novels. I'm also glad I own it in an omnibus with the aforementioned novels, because isn't that cover hideous? I've included the cover of Borders of Infinity, a novella collection also containing Labyrinth, which actually has a scene from Labyrinth as the cover art. I like to think of those editions as the often slightly less hideous than Baen covers. At least there's no orange font.

Anyway, I recommend Labyrinth to fans of the Vorkosigan universe. I don't especially suggest it as a good place to start since a lot of background is missing and there's not much space for worldbuilding (although we do get a better idea of Jackson's Whole, after hearing about it in passing for a few books). It does stand alone, though, so it's not a bad story to pick up to fill in some time. And I did pretty much inhale it in almost one go.

4 / 5 stars

First published: 1989, Analog
Series: Vorkosigan saga, chronologically after Ethan of Athos
Format read: ePub as part of the Miles, Mystery & Mayhem omnibus
Source: purchased from Baen several years ago

1 comment:

  1. Actually, I found it very memorable, myself, even the first time. Possibly because, as a lover of folk music and medieval literature I recognise the theme of the Loathly Lady, as found in the ballad King Henry, the story of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell and the Wife Of Bath's tale. King Henry especially. Have you hard that one? Can't recall if it was sung by Steeleye Span or Pentangle, but in it King Henry finds himself stuck with a huge, scary female creature who demands of him food, drink and finally that he sleep with her. He does all this and in the morning finds the spell is broken and a beautiful lady by his side. And doesn't Miles say he was sent to slay a monster and instead found a princess? :-)