Following the Dragoola IV break-out of “Borders of Infinity”, the Dendarii Mercs are fleeing the Cetagandans, and limp their way to Earth. Miles and his cousin Ivan become involved in stopping a Komarran scheme invented by a loyal officer’s father and executed in part by Miles’ clone, Mark Pierre. The shaky status of Komarrans (as a conquered people) in the Barrayaran military leads to doubts of loyalty abound. On top of that, the Dendarii need money–badly, and Miles is stuck as Lord Vorkosigan, while his chores as Admiral Naismith pile up and his clone runs around his ships as him.
This is a startlingly action-packed book. The chaos is characteristic of Miles, however, and is handled well, Bujold-style. All of the plot lines are woven together and knot to an excellent finish. As always, there are features of this book that move along character and series development, such as Kung’s retiring and his parting remarks, and Miles’ marriage proposal to Quinn.
There is a lot going on in this book, emotionally and physically, with Miles. Many of his major problems with his identities reveal themselves in the form of his marriage proposal and his hesitation in stating which of his personalities is the creation of the other. He’s having to invent lies in lies to maintain his ImpSec “cover” as Naismith. The duality of his situation is spiralling, down a drain it seems. For now there’s a way to keep it all from going down, but there’s the sense that it won’t last, and that he’ll have to choose.
This a superb book, with the only possible down-side being it’s chaotic nature (in which case you probably don’t (or won’t) enjoy many of the Vorkosigan stories…). This book takes off practically in mid-sentence from “Borders of Infinity”, so it probably isn’t very good as a first Vorkosigan story to read (or as a standalone), but it’s great in context.