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Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner

Three spaceships in orbit in a red/orange space sceneWhy I read it:  This is one from my own TBL.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  A rich Komarran merchant fleet has been impounded at Graf Station, in distant Quaddiespace, after a bloody incident on the station docks involving a security officer from the convoy’s Barrayaran military escort. Lord Miles Vorkosigan of Barrayar and his wife, Lady Ekaterin, have other things on their minds, such as getting home in time to attend the long-awaited births of their first children. But when duty calls in the voice of Barrayar’s Emperor Gregor, Miles, Gregor’s youngest Imperial Auditor (a special high-level troubleshooter) has no choice but to answer.

Waiting on Graf Station are diplomatic snarls, tangled loyalties, old friends, new enemies, racial tensions, lies and deceptions, mysterious disappearances, and a lethal secret with wider consequences than even Miles anticipates: a race with time for life against death in horrifying new forms.

The downside of being a troubleshooter comes when trouble starts shooting back . . .

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  A year and a half has passed since Miles and Ekaterin wed in A Civil Campaign. They are enjoying the tail-end of a belated honeymoon and are planning to return to Barrayar in plenty of time for the birth of their twins – Aral Alexander and Helen Natalia – gestating away in uterine replicators. However the plan goes awyr, as Miles’s plans often do, when Emperor Gregor calls upon Miles to sort out a diplomatic disaster in Quaddie Space. (I first learned about quaddies in Falling Free and those who have read or listened to the book will recognise some of the names mentioned here. Falling Free takes place hundreds of years before Diplomatic Immunity and quaddies and downsiders from the first book have now become part of the quaddie cultural heritage.)

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Silhouette of couple holding hands, facing each other with their foreheads together against the background of a setting sunWinterfair Gifts by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner B+  This novella length audiobook follows a few months after the events of A Civil Campaign. Miles and Ekaterin are just about to get married at Winterfair (a kind of Barrayaran Christmas). Gifts are arriving and so are wedding guests. Roic, one of Miles’ armsmen is feeling like a bit of a failure after the shamozzle with the butter bugs and the Escobaran bounty hunters. He thinks Armsman Pym hates him and Miles thinks him incompetent. Roic also serves as the narrator of the story. Dendarii mercenary and former lover of Miles, Taura, arrives for the wedding. Roic grew up in the back country and hasn’t seen anyone like Taura ever. Of course, as she is the only one of her kind left, no-one else has either, but Taura makes a big impact on Roic. When Ekaterin falls ill before the wedding, Roic and Taura combine forces to work out what has caused it and save the day.

A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner

bride and groom walking away from the camera, down the aisle.Why I read it:  This is one from my own TBL. I don’t recommend listening to it without first reading/listening to the earlier books in the series, at the very least Komarr (but really, most of the Vorkosigan books are needed to fully appreciate this one.)

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Miles Vorkosigan has a problem: unrequited love for the beautiful widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson, violently allergic to marriage after her first exposure. If a frontal assault won’t do, Miles thinks, try subterfuge. He has a cunning plan…Lord Mark Vorkosigan also has a problem: his love has just become unrequited again. But he has a cunning plan…Lord Ivan Vorpatril has a problem: unrequited love in general. But he too has a cunning plan…If no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, just imagine what all Miles’ friends and relatives can do to his romantic strategy!

Warning: Series spoilers ahoy

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I have been hanging out to finally listen to A Civil Campaign. Especially after meeting Ekaterin in Komarr, I was completely unable to not immediately start this one next.

Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner

night space scene with a woman;s face superimposed in the back top left.Why I read it:  This is one from my own TBL.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Komarr could be a garden – with a thousand more years work. Or an uninhabitable wasteland, if the terraforming fails. Now the solar mirror vital to the terraforming of the conquered planet has been shattered by a ship hurtling off course. The Emperor of Barrayar sends his newest Imperial Auditor, Lord Miles Vorkosigan, to find out why. The choice is not a popular one on Komarr, where a betrayal a generation before drenched the name of Vorkosigan in blood. In the political and physical claustrophobia of the domed cities, are the Komarrans surrounding Miles loyal subjects, potential hostages, innocent victims, or rebels bidding for revenge? Lies within lies, treachery within treachery – Miles is caught in a race against time to stop a plot that could exile him from Barrayar forever. His burning hope lies in an unexpected ally, one with wounds as deep and honor as beleaguered as his own.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I’ve been biding my time, listening to this series in order and determined not to jump ahead to the “Miles romance” books. Komarr was my (first) reward. It is here Miles falls in love with Ekaterin Vorsoisson, who is, when they first meet, married to the Terraforming Administrator of the Serifosa Sector in Komarr. While, by the end of the book, that no longer represents an impediment to Miles because reasons (and not cheaty reasons either), this is not the book where Miles gets his HEA either. (That is the next one: A Civil Campaign.) There are sniffs and hints of Ekaterin beginning to have feelings for Miles but, for many reasons, it wasn’t the right time or place for that to be fully explored. It makes sense and it satisfies but, at the same time, I could not resist immediately starting A Civil Campaign after I finished Komarr.

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