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4.0 out of 5 stars A fun romp, with hints of greater depths., 27 Dec 2013
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga Book 4) (Kindle Edition)
Miles Vorkosigan is the son of one of the most powerful men on Barrayar, but is also a cripple, cursed with fragile bones and occasional hubris. When his pride overrides his good sense and leaves him too injured to take part in entrance examinations to the Barrayaran academy, Miles is washed up and left without a future. Intrigued by a mystery involving his bodyguard, Bothari, Miles decides to take an offworld trip...but nothing goes to plan and before long Miles's fast-talking has earned him the command of a fleet of starships, thousands of mercenaries and involvement in a civil war which is none of his business. Miles has some explaining to do.

Whilst chronologically The Warrior's Apprentice is the third volume in The Vorkosigan Saga, for most people it's where the series really begins. This is the book where the main character of the series, Miles, debuts as an adult character and it also represents a notable tonal shift from the previous two volumes, Shards of Honour and Barrayar. Whilst those two books were fairly serious (aside from brief comedy-of-manners episodes), The Warrior's Apprentice is more rambunctious. It's a bit of a romp, actually, with Miles' fast-talking mouth and off-the-cuff inventiveness (i.e. lying his head off) getting him in and out of trouble so quickly readers may experience whiplash trying to keep up with it.

It's a novel which can be firmly filed under 'fun', although there is a tragic core to the novel involving the character of Bothrai. Bujold writes this mystery so it works from two angles: if you've read Shards of Honour and Barrayar, you know what's going on long before Miles does and Bujold milks the tension effectively as Miles investigates the matter. If you haven't read those books and are as much in the dark as Miles, it works just as well. The tragic interlude (and the finale, which involves a brief dash of political intrigue) are a bit out-of-keeping with the book's overall tone, but Bujold shows impressive mastery of pacing in allowing the narrative to organically shift to integrate them before moving back to a less serious feel.

The result is a novel that is often quite funny, but also reflects the central character very well. Miles is a ball of energy that tends to drag people along behind him into various crazy schemes they'd never normally want to be a part of, but his momentum somehow keeps everything afloat. The novel works this way as well, with the plot taking increasingly ludicrous turns but it not mattering because Bujold infuses the novel with so much energy and verve you just want to read along and find out what happens next. Bujold's skills with characterisation also help define the book's setting much more clearly, with even briefly-appearing secondary characters getting fleshed out into three-dimensional people within just a few paragraphs.

Negatives? The narrative sometimes feels a little too silly for a book that actually isn't an out-and-out comedy. The concluding section on Barrayar is also perhaps a little too neat and tidy, and there seems to be a narrative disconnect between Cordelia's treatment by her own people on Beta Colony in the first two books (where she was treated as a criminal) and her well-regarded position here. But there are fairly minor issues.

The Warrior's Apprentice (****) isn't high art or hard SF, but it is entertaining, fast-paced and well-characterised, with just enough pathos and tragedy to add some depth to it. It is available now in the UK and USA as part of the Young Miles omnibus, along with the novella The Mountains of Mourning and the novel The Vor Game.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 9 Dec 2013
This review is from: The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga Book 4) (Kindle Edition)
I thoroughly enjoyed this. I'd recommend reading it after Barrayar, so that you understand what happened to cause Miles' physical problems. He is a great character using his wits to make up for his lack of a he-man type body. Very exciting story in a totally believable world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is the book that got me absolutely hooked on Lois McMaster Bujold, now my favourite author by far., 22 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga Book 4) (Kindle Edition)
To define this book is to limit it. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a fantastic story. Awesome writing and a central character who will astound.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Review, 20 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga Book 4) (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed this. It's a little like stepping back in time to find early Anne McCaffrey stories with better plots and characters.

Miles is engaging and quirky. He is matter of fact about his physical condition in a way which means the reader can see life from his view point, and sit back and enjoy his cleverness and energy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great place to start, 16 Jan 2012
This review is from: The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga Book 4) (Kindle Edition)
I stumbled upon this novel by chance at my local bookshop, many years ago, and became hooked instantly despite what was at the time an extremely lurid cover. I have reread it many times since and had to buy a new copy. It's a great introduction to the Vorkosigan saga. While "Shards of Honor" and "Barrayar" predate it chronologically in the series, with "Warrior's apprentice", you get plunged right away into the mad adventures of Miles and barely have time to take a breath while he sets about to conquer the universe in his own unique fashion. Unlike many authors who only seem able to write one book over and over again, Bujold never does. Each book in the Vorkosigan universe is different and its hero changes and matures... wait till you get to "Memory", which is my absolute favourite in that series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Accidental Space Opera, 1 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga Book 4) (Kindle Edition)
This story has a lot in common with other scifi opuses of the last thirty years; it features space battles, future tech and contrasting planetary cultures. However, Bujold, as usual, crafts something more unusual out of such common clay.

For a start, our protagonist is the young Miles Vorkosigan, a teenage hero who relies on his wits rather than his fists. Born malformed on a world that fears and despises physical irregularity, he sees service in the Barrayaran military as a way to prove himself.

When this goes awry, he finds himself posing as a mercenary leader through a series of misunderstandings. The way in which he has to tell an ever-escalating series of lies in order to juggle an increasingly complex situation is highly entertaining.

Most importantly, Miles is highly likable, and I found myself willing him to succeed. This being Bujold, there is as much emotional as physical action. Miles' interactions with those around him are gripping, none more so than when he tries to reunite his bodyguard Bothari's daughter (the woman he loves) with her supposedly dead mother. Those readers who have read the adventures of Miles' parents will know why that situation can never end well...

Another great adventure from Bujold; the best thing about her books is that they each offer somthing different, both from the story before and from anything else in the genre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 18 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga Book 4) (Kindle Edition)
Yet another gem in the Miles saga
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quick pace for an enjoyable read, 10 Jun 2013
By 
Mark Chitty (North Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga Book 4) (Kindle Edition)
While browsing through my kindle for something to read I came across the Miles Vorkosigan books. Deciding that I wasn't already reading enough multiple-novel series', I decided to give the first Miles book, The Warrior's Apprentice, a go. What I found was a quick paced and easily readable story that has much potential, and left me thinking where the story could go from here.

A cripple since birth, Miles is not your average Barrayan. He's also the grandson of a military genius and the heir to the house of Vorkosigan - more than enough to live up to. But Miles is intelligent and headstrong, determined to prove others wrong. However, while attempting the physical tests to pass his Officer's exams he breaks both legs and sees his chance disappear. At a loose end, he decides to visit his mother's side of the family on Beta colony, a colony that saw much fighting prior to his birth. Along with Sergeant Bothari, his personal bodyguard, and Bothari's daughter, Elena, Miles takes a trip that ends up being much more than he bargained for.

I enjoyed The Warrior's Apprentice, despite the setting and its history not really hitting the spot. It felt strange - a society that went from fighting with swords, to spaceflight between planets, in perhaps 70 years. There is some allusion in the novel to the 'Time of Isolation' after the colony was founded, but never in any detail, and it often left me wondering a little more about these things.

Fortunately, The Warrior's Apprentice is not about the finer points of world building, but about the characters. Mile Vorkosigan is our main man, and he's a completely intriguing character to follow. Despite his weak bones disability, or perhaps in spite of it, he's confident and, to be fair, a little arrogant. He can talk his way through many things, and in reality that's what this novel is about: Miles Vorkosigan. While the other characters add to the mix - particularly Sergeant Bothari with his dark and mysterious military past.

On the whole The Warrior's Apprentice does things well. It's a quick paced novel that leads the reader from one point to another, often leaving you blinking at the change of situation. The times that it does slow down and allows some deeper issues to be raised and dealt with are by far the highlight, showing that it's not all about moving the story forward at a breakneck pace.

Definitely recommended, and with Hugo winners in future volumes I'll be looking forward to what other adventures Miles has in store.
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