Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold
List Price: $26.00
Hardcover - 320 pages (May 2002)
Baen Books; ISBN: 0743435338
Review by Dave Goldfeder with Ernest Lilley
Check out this book at: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Lois McMaster Bujold has returned with the latest volume of the Miles Vorkosigan saga, Diplomatic Immunity. This is Ms. Bujold’s fourteenth book in the Barrayar milieu and the tenth with Miles Vorkosigan as a protagonist.

The good news is that Miles is back in action. Miles' fans wasted no time showing their approval, and Diplomatic Immunity has been holding its own on the New York Times Best Seller list for the last few weeks. Not that it's going to knock STAR WARS: EPISODE 2 -- ATTACK OF THE CLONES out of the #2 slot...but it's darn respectable for fans of the Barrayaran Boy Wonder.

The bad news is that he's married, and though Miles seems to think it's bliss, it fits him about as well as a pair of long pants. Miles' idea of romance has historically been to cozy up to an oversexed mutant warrior, shag a starship captain, or to fall into the clutches of a "brief blonde". I really can't believe that he's suddenly developed a taste for a well mannered widow with a penchant for gardening. I mean, he's only in his early thirties.

When we first met Miles, he was a hyperactive seventeen-year-old prodigy in The Warrior’s Apprentice. We followed him through his twenties, when he was a hyperactive imperial security operative. When last we left our diminutive hero, Miles had just saved humanity, created tremendous amounts of chaos and confusion, and met a girl who fell in love with the size of his ego. No! Wait a moment! That was before.

Before he was dead, dishonored, and dragooned (by the author) into a relationship with the Widow Ekaterin.

When we last saw Miles, at the end of A Civil Campaign, Emperor Gregor had just gotten married and Miles was engaged to Ekaterin. When we meet up with him again, two years have passed, and Miles and Ekaterin are returning home from a delayed honeymoon tour of the galaxy and awaiting the birth of twins. For those unfamiliar with the series, uterine replicators, artificial wombs, are the preferred method of reproduction.

"Never a dull moment" ought to be Miles' family motto, as an Imperial Courier catches up to him and tells him that the Emperor needs him to divert to an out of the way space station where a Komarran trade fleet and its Barrayaran military escort have gotten into trouble. Imperial troubleshooter being his new job, now that he's given up covert military operations, Miles takes his bride in tow and goes off to solve what is either a murder, a desertion, or a plot more sinister than either. Or, knowing Miles, all the above.

Graf Station is in Quaddie Space. We first met the  genetically engineered Quaddies in Falling Free and we've and more recently in Borders of Infinity, where Miles fell for a zero-gee gal with four arms named Nicole. Not only do we run into Nicole at Graf Station, but also Bel Thorne, Miles' former right hand man...er...Hermaphrodite from his military ops days.

Bel's looking to settle down, and there's considerable tension between the two friends as they work out the details of their relationship after being Admiral Naismith and Captain Thorne.

Miles does his Lord Auditor thing, spinning everyone around him up like a top and throwing confusion to the enemy (and friends) at every turn. He's still the same old lovable space opera star we've always enjoyed, but like Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Lois Bujold seems bent on wearing her most popular character out. Not content with insults she's visited on him in previous adventures, she leaves him rather worse for wear in this one.

Miles' style is a bit seriously cramped by having married Ektarin, since he can't go around falling improbably in love with a new woman every book. There are plenty of other characters in her universe, and one wonders why she doesn't just write about them until she forgives Miles for whatever he's done.

Don't mind me. Miles is still more fun than a barrel of quaddies. Ektarin will no doubt grow on me, and there's a whole new generation of Vorksogans about to hatch...and no doubt they will provide amusement to a whole new generation of Bujold readers.

© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu                                                                               sa 05.22.02