Review: Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold

Series: Vorkosigan Saga
Published by: Baen
ISBN: 067187845X
ISBN 13: 9780671878450
Published: 1996
Pages: 418
Format reviewed: ePub
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Related Reviews: Reading Challenge: Vorkosigan Saga Project

We meet Miles again on a job with the Dendarii, dropped straight into trouble again as Miles’ latest health issues yet again cause him strife – this time by having a seizure whilst in battle armour, which results in severing off the legs of an unfortunate bystander.

As if that’s not bad enough, he writes a fraudulent report to Simon – not because of the shame of injuring his own employee, but because he’s hiding his seizures from everyone. Even Elli.

He’s called back to Barrayar anyway and his fraud is brought to light – he’s dismissed about as politely as possible, but it still throws Miles into one of his worst dark moods so far – which everyone expects, so Ivan is there with him, annoying him into each daily requirement such as eating and showering.

Then it comes to light that something might not be right with Simon. Simon, who basically everything relies on – he’s been there for Emperor Gregor since his birth, he’s been Aral’s right hand man, and he was literally called uncle by Miles until he was about to join the service. Simon had a chip installed in his mind by the previous emperor which grants him a photographic memory… and now it seems to be on the fritz. He demands answers for issues and missions that happened five or ten years ago… and it’s really starting to worry Miles and everyone else. To the point where after a particularly bad episode in a meeting, they stand Simon down immediately and shuttle him off to medical, where he seemingly only gets worse.

There’s not much Miles can do now he’s medically retired. He seeths for a bit, and then marches straight to his childhood foster-brother Emperor Gregor, and asks for something ridiculous – to be an Auditor, so he has full access to everything relating specifically to any case Gregor may choose to assign him – in this case, anything relating to Simon. And from there, he sets about saving the man who’s wryly helped raise him for the last 30 or so years.

What we have here is a decently sized novel (400 pages) that feels like a novella – it just flies by. Miles is in his element – he can go anywhere and do anything he likes, something he’s always been used to (especially when with the Dendarii) but wasn’t able to in his ‘official’ role on Barrayar.

What’s interesting in this novel are the elements that we focus on – Miles and his jealousy and ego, where he will always assume he’s smarter and better than his cousin Ivan, who makes it to Captaincy first.

Miles and his women – it’s finally admitted and addressed how as soon as he’s not around Elli, he’s back sleeping with previous partners and not even feeling guilty about it – even though he later questions Elli as to whether she was faithful to him. This whole side of Miles leaves a bad taste in my mouth, especially with the other dialogue about women that we see as Miles, Ivan and Duv are starting/already to look at securing a wife. They somehow think it’s okay to just pepper any girl who comes by with proposals? Or getting angry at others when the girl they set their sights on gets snapped up by others? Uh, give some recognition to the women and their choices, please.

At least we see some of the older people in healthy relationships, and the series doesn’t only focus on the young and nubile. High five to Ivan’s mother dearest.

Overall this is the excellent work we’re used to from Bujold, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be losing anytime soon.

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