Tag: 30 dob

30 DoB: Day 04 – The Fave of a Fave?

30 Days of Books: Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series

Building on my last 30 DoB post, where I revealed that Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series narrowly edged out Stephen King’s Dark Tower series for the #1 spot in my series deathmatch, I’m back with more Bujold today.  My favorite book in the Vorkosigan series is, by far, The Warrior’s Apprentice.

Although the third book, chronologically, in the Vorkosigan universe, Apprentice is the first book where Bujold introduces a young Miles Vorkosigan, son of military genius and Prime Minister / Advisor to the Throne Aral Vorkosigan.  Miles, the protagonist in almost all of the series volumes from this point forward, is more “special” than most – his fragile bone structure, short stature, and wonky biochemistry are the result of a poisonous-gas attack his mother survived while pregnant with Miles.  In spite of his physical limitations, Miles’ keen intellect and manic nature power him ever forward through an increasingly more convoluted set of circumstances.

In the first few books of this series, Bujold borrows heavily from a classic space opera heritage, and there are plenty of battles (both in space and planetside), twists, political/planetary conspiracies, and enough energy and dry humor to please just about any science fiction fan.  Later in the series, Miles takes on more of a detective role, and there are some romance aspects and political/court intrigue that come into play that add another dimension to the characters and keep the series fresh.

Yet it is this first  book of Miles’ adventures that I return to when I want to re-read my favorite from the series – early on, he still has the naivety to believe if he just tries hard enough, everything will fall into place just as planned, and enough energy and determination to see things through when they don’t.  He is vulnerable, flawed, and yet constantly struggles to make the best of what he has and come out on top.  His charismatic way of attracting the loyalty and respect of those he comes in contact with is arguably the most fascinating aspect of his personality, and one I personally envy.  The Vorkosigan series is an entertaining romp through the life of Miles Vorkosigan, and Bujold has stated that the series structure is modeled after the Horatio Hornblower books, documenting the life of a single person (yet another series I need to add to my to-read list!)

If you’re a fan of science fiction, or just want a quick and energetic read, I’d recommend checking out The Warrior’s Apprentice. But be warned – once you get hooked on Miles Vorkosigan, there’s no turning back, and you’ll have at least 12 or 13 other books in the Vorkosigan series that you’re liable to beg, borrow, or steal to get your next Vorkosigan fix!


30 DoB: Day 02 – The More the Merrier!

30 Days of Books: Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times

I’ve been stymied on Day 2 of this book meme, but unlike Steve and Bookmole, it doesn’t have to do with only having a few books that meet this criteria; on the contrary, I have so many books that meet the criteria of having been read more than three times that it was hard to decide on just one to post about!

To me, some books are the equivalent of comfort food, but for the mind & soul.  When I’m feeling sick, or down, or just out of sorts, often picking up a book that I have read many times before will be enough to kick me out of my blues.  I have a couple shelves of go-to authors & books that I have no problem reading once every year or two – sometimes my difficulty is in limiting the re-reads so I can get on to some new books that I haven’t yet absorbed.

With that said, my choice for today’s post is one I “bought” from the library* – Convergent Series by Larry Niven.

This book is a collection of Niven’s short stories – about half are previously published stories from various magazines of the ’60s and ’70s and the others were apparently written specifically for this collection.  Although Niven is best known for his science fiction, about half of these stories are merely Niven’s take on environmental concerns, war, death, and society, frosted with a light scifi/fantasy coating of an exotic setting or set of circumstances.

As the title might imply, there are also quite a few that touch tangentially on Niven’s love for mathematics (he majored in Math in college, and even pursued some graduate work in the field before becoming a prize-winning author.)  The title story, “Convergent Series” combines math and demon summoning in an entertaining and humorous tale that stuck with me ever since I first read it.

Some of the stories, though, are much more poignant and even disturbing.  “Wrong-Way Street”, “Cautionary Tales”, and “Dry Run” all touch on the fleetingness of life and caused me to pause and reflect on my own actions and the merits of how I’m spending my days.  And “The Deadlier Weapon”, involving interplay between an automobile driver and the hitchhiker who threatens him, definitely got me thinking.

All in all, this book is a nice collection of shorter, somewhat-fluffier pieces that nourish without too much challenge.  I find myself coming back to it not because it is my favorite book, but because it’s so easy to pick up and put down, as needed, and rejoin the characters and plots of some stories I first read as a teenager.  Most people probably won’t want to read it more than once, but then again, as I’ve seen, most people probably don’t read ANY books as many times as I tend to do.


*I had checked out my copy of this book from the library, and somehow lost it.  I paid the lost book fee for the book, only to find it a couple years later after a move.  The library didn’t want it back by that point, so it became mine.  I don’t advocate acquiring books this way though – it’s not nice to the other patrons who would want to read it!


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