I must admit I came to the book with the conviction that the whole Vorkosigan series was wound down to the point of being dead. For awhile, as I read it, I continued to think so - but, about the middle of Chapter 5, something happens: Miles goes shopping! [ - you'll have to read it to see what I mean. ] And Komarr is never the same again . . . the book takes off, despite Chapter 10 & some of 11 being a retake of the Thames Barrier scene in 'Brothers In Arms'. And, oh yes, despite the distinctly original, new, way the involvement of Dr. Riva is handled (in Chapter 18), there are several rather trademarked or repetitious moments: How many times can the chance-encounter-with-terroristic-hostiles-disguised-as-space-station-personnel-who-commit-kidnapping [ see 'Ethan of Athos' ], or climactic-scene-in-shuttle-bay-&/or-other-large-empty-warehouse-enclosure [ 'Ethan of Athos, 'Cetaganda', etc. ] scenarios be shown us, without its getting stale ?
Chapter 19 is well done and holds interest nicely; the women-who-are-strong-by-their-skillful-use-of-controlled-vehicles is not really repetitious though it echoes elements of the Jackson's Whole story in 'The Borders of Infinity' and the last chapters of 'Cetaganda' [quaddie uses her levitating-bowl wheelchair as a weapon, haut-ladies' canopied & shielded bubble-chairs useful for hostile subterfuge.] The heroine Ekaterina's exceptional character has to come out in the open here . . . she figures out how to use advanced features of a remote control with astonishing facility - A lot of people don't take to new machinery, esp. in a crisis, at all well... and mind, what we have here is a housewife and former botany student, without any special machine-related training! Put it down to concealed high-intelligence qualitites. It certainly impresses duly . . . if a little too much so [ like Karen Black "...flying the airplane!!" ( - see a '70s movie called, uh, 'Airport'? ] But this woman certainly could handle a new career somewhat more involved with what the Germans call hochtechnologie, than landscaping / gardening !
'Why does my life always have to be an open book?' Not an open book - just open source code.*'Wear a red hat, and carry a bulky open-source code book,' as it were. It's like HTML (what this web page is written with): you can't keep it a secret. Open source means complexity made public . . . but only those who can understand complex things can get anything (real) out of it... except maybe the title . . . [I think of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac beginning a duel by reciting the title of his extempore verses... his (dim-wit) opponent sneers, "What's that?" and is replied to with, "Oh, that? the title." As much as to say, If you can't even understand the title, not only are you really dumb - but also you're not going to be able to understand the rest, the main body of the work, for certain!
You can't keep HTML / webpage code a secret . . . but why you wrote it so can still be something subtler, somewhat of a mystery.
Alas, the one promising genuine response to his personality and force of character, unadorned (to say the least!), in 'The Borders of Infinity', gets killed off. The only genuine atrocity committed by an otherwise impeccable writer.
I'd figured, by 'Memory', that Miles would be matched with someone who basically wanted his title (Lord, cadet Count & planetary Council-member.) Looks like I was right: the Jane Austenish Good Sense of all this despleases my masculine prejudices a trifle: Why were they all so ambitious?
Alas, the answer seems to be: "Because all of McMaster Bujold's female characters are Nancy Drew." They're brave and bright. Not a dumb one among them.
Perhaps we ought to see more of that kind in the rest of the series, I suggest? just to avoid the implacable assumption that McMaster Bujold's Galaxy in its current condition was preceded by several centuries of severe eugenic culling of females. How else did they all end up so shrewd?!
- Read the book reviewed in this web page, in either of two editions: