Miles does his thing, and he does it well. Side characters are strong and complex. The plot is a mess, intentionally and outrageously, though no more so than usually. Bujold shows that she can do precocious children – they and their treatment by the adults broke my immersion at times, but Miles addresses this issue in an attempt to appease the readers and editors, so that’s covered. Nothing else is really strange or new, except maybe the lack of a strong woman pulling the plot together – it’s the first Vorkosigan book in quite a while where the main female character is mostly being rescued (though she does have some offscreen badassery).
The main thing about the book is not the standard-Vorkosigan shaped plot or how all characters are vivid and real and how the commentary is clever and fun. The main thing about this book is the end, which delivers a punch that has built up over the course of 14 books straight to the reader’s solarplexus. I’m not completely convinced that Bujold should be even allowed to write drabbles. 💔
One more to go.