Sunday, 8 April 2018

Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold

Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold is the latest of my re-reads of the Vorkosigan Saga. Chronologically this novel comes after the novella Winterfair Gifts and is one of the last few in the series (so far). Although this was a re-read for me, it turned out that I remembered very little of it from my first read through other than the fact that it features Miles and Ekaterin in Quaddie space. Now that I've actually reread it the new ebook edition cover (pictured here) makes much more sense.

A rich Komarran merchant fleet has been impounded at Graf Station, in distant Quaddiespace, after a bloody incident on the station docks involving a security officer from the convoy's Barrayaran military escort. Lord Miles Vorkosigan of Barrayar and his wife, Lady Ekaterin, have other things on their minds, such as getting home in time to attend the long-awaited births of their first children. But when duty calls in the voice of Barrayar's Emperor Gregor, Miles, Gregor's youngest Imperial Auditor (a special high-level troubleshooter) has no choice but to answer.

Waiting on Graf Station are diplomatic snarls, tangled loyalties, old friends, new enemies, racial tensions, lies and deceptions, mysterious disappearances, and a lethal secret with wider consequences than even Miles anticipates: a race with time for life against death in horrifying new forms.

The downside of being a troubleshooter comes when trouble starts shooting back . . .

For all that I didn't specifically remember, this is another typical Miles adventure. He's sent in to fix a delicate and slightly odd diplomatic incident and ends up embroiled in a far-reaching conspiracy that would have started a war if he hadn't gotten to it when he did. Classic Miles. We also got to have some closure on a Dendarii character from earlier in the series who hadn't already had a little epilogue.

This was another action-packed read filled with a mystery to solve and lots of conspiratorial threads that eventually all come together into a coherent whole. I suppose I wouldn't call it one of my favourite Vorkosigan books, but it's right up there and I'm not sure why the details of the story escaped my memory to so great an extent. Perhaps it's because by the time I got to reading it I had read a lot of Vorkosigan books in a row and my brain was overloaded? In any case, I definitely enjoyed rereading it and Diplomatic Immunity sits firmly in the category of elaborate Miles problem-solving adventures.

It's not impossible to read this book without having read others — a lot of the plot specifics are explained as the story goes along — but I wouldn't recommend it. It builds on a lot of ideas that were introduced in earlier books, from Miles's past, to the quaddies (in Falling Free) and geo spatiopolitical relations between Barrayar and Cetaganda. There's a lot of history behind this book, even if the specific adventure/problem is very self-contained. I still highly recommend the Vorkosigan series as a whole, just not this book as a starting point.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 1999, Baen
Series: Vorkosigan saga, chronologically after Winterfair Gifts and before Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
Format read: ePub as part of the Miles, Mutants and Microbes omnibus
Source: Purchased from Baen several years ago

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