Review: Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold

Series: Vorkosigan Saga
Published by: Baen
ISBN: 1886778396
ISBN 13: 9781886778399
Published: 1986
Pages: 200
Format reviewed: ePub
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Related Reviews: Reading Challenge: Vorkosigan Saga Project

And so we meet Ethan. As we have seen in my previous reviews, I loathed to leave first Cordelia and Aral, and then Miles. Yet again we change to another main character – this time Ethan of the planet Athos – a highly religious planet that has zero need for women and have instead a complex and strict society where you can work additional hours in order to earn credits you can then exchange to be granted a child through their advanced biotechnology. In many ways, especially at the beginning, they seemed so entirely backwards – he’s petrified of women and completely devout… but then we see how progressive they are with being gay, and how backwards other otherwise ‘progressive’ planets are. It’s all very well done with a sly dig here and there.

We grow to love Ethan because he’s so boyishly excited and proud of his job and the work he does. He is simple in many ways. Cordelia and Miles before him were vastly intelligent and adept at almost everything they turn their hands to, and then we get Ethan who is also intelligent… but certainly not the guns blazing save a planet type of character. He doesn’t want to leave his planet, but does because he believes in the cause ferociously. He runs into Quinn, who we know from Miles’ previous ‘Admiral Naismith’ adventure, and it’s a joy to have her back.

This is basically a slight investigative drama meets space opera. The quest Ethan has left Athos for is to track down the biological shipment Athos needs to survive. He runs into Quinn and trouble pretty much straight away (I think it refers to what ordeals he goes through before he even has a chance to eat anything) but as he lacks Miles’ quick thinking and way with words, he suffers through a 7+ hour of torture (amongst other things), which shows just how over his head he really is. He’s bashed for being gay, he’s scared of women and it’s only through Quinn’s energetic personality that he’s often too stunned to react to her through the first initial meeting, and then from there he’s in hiding thanks to her skills… and from there, he’s determined to get to the bottom of everything just as much as everyone else who’s in play here.

I love seeing all the worldbuilding that goes into this books – like how biohazards and fires are the top notch worries whilst in space – murder they’re not really fussed over.

This is the lowest ranking book in the series (according to goodreads) but I loved every minute of it, and devoured it within about a day. More Ethan, I say! (Although I’m pretty sure there’s not.) More Cee! More Quinn!