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!