Gentleman Jole & the Red Queen, by Lois McMaster Bujold
Ah, a new Barrayar book. Happy sigh. This one could just as well have been called Moving On, or Bujold Ties Up More Loose Ends. Miles was promoted to Count with the death of his father Aral (seven years ago, so no apology for lack of spoiler alerts) and that effectively ended his career as an action / investigative hero. So what does Bujold do next? Well, she moves Miles to the background, brings other characters forward and fills in a few blanks, that’s what. The last book, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, got Miles’s cousin and long-term spear carrier Ivan married off. But there’s still the big one. Bujold gave us two of sf’s greatest courtships and romances: Miles & Ekaterin, but before that Cordelia & Aral. So what happens to Cordelia after Aral has gone? Here we find out.
Though it must be said that while Bujold can do cracking action and cracking sf, she can also do less cracking twee, and this is definitely at the twee end of the scale. Nothing major is at stake apart from the happiness of a couple of people – which, okay, still counts, but even Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance managed to lever in a biological threat to Barrayar to overcome, as well as the whole marriage thing. So I would say it’s for Barrayar completists only – of which I am proudly one. And as the entire action takes place on the planet Sergyar, which is where Cordelia and Aral met in the first place, it may be a deliberate means of wrapping up the series nicely. We will see.