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5.0 out of 5 stars Diplomatic Immunity, 29 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Diplomatic Immunity (Vorkosigan Saga Book 13) (Kindle Edition)
With the action mainly set on a space station rather than a planet (it belongs to the Quaddies, humans genetically engineered to live in free fall, shortly before artificial gravity was invented, see: "Falling Free") this is as much about Miles Vorkosigan, his wife and his armsman, adapting their thinking to that environment, as it is to Miles having to tread a very fine line whilst trying to extricate a Barrayan fleet from a diplomatic impasse, for which they are not as completely to blame as it looks. For once, this isn't something which Miles Vorkosigan gets involved in off his own bat: he's ordered to sort things out by his Emperor.

Any form of genetic abnormality is a problem for Barrayans, due to the use of nuclear weapons in an attempt to put down their revolt against Cetagandan occupation, and deliberate genetic engineering is a bigger problem still, largely because their former Cetagandan oppressors base their culture around genetic "improvement" of the human race by the ruling "Haut" Caste, and genetic manipulation of animals and plants, usually for "artistic" reasons by the Cetagandan's military "Ghem Lords".

It gradually transpires that there's more going on, and more at stake, than Miles could ever have imagined, and the increasingly impossible mess on Graf station is actually an expression of Cetagandan, rather than Barrayan or Quaddie politics. His past is coming back to haunt him: even as his children are growing in their uterine replicator and he has to scramble to prevent an imminent war that threatens to snuff out their lives before they even begin, along with all Barrayar.

To save his own children and people, Miles must save an entire generation of Cetagandan Haut children: the ultimate expression both of Cetagandan power and ambition -and of all that makes Cetaganda's vision of the future completely incompatible with Barrayar's.

Is Miles a hero, the part he always likes to play, or the ultimate traitor?

Along the way, we're shown how Quaddie culture has changed (and how it has stayed the same in other respects) since "Falling Free" several centuries and many novels ago. And Miles meets up with an old friend to anyone who's read the earlier novels of the saga. There's also a tantalizing glimpse of Cetaganda and Barrayar as partners rather than enemies, despite the vastness of the gulf between the two cultures.

There's an interesting link here with "Captain Vorpatril's Alliance" too: dancers and musicians are central to Quaddie society, just as they are important assets to the crime barons of Jackson's Whole. Quaddie dancers are perhaps as important as Barrayar's Vor lords, or Cetaganda's Haut.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stonking good read, 27 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Diplomatic Immunity (Vorkosigan Saga Book 13) (Kindle Edition)
While it's very much part of the series (Vorksigan/Barrayar) this is an enthralling read. Knowledge of what's gone on before is recommended to enhance your delight. Strong characters placed in dynamic and dramatic situations with depth and feeling - admission; I've got this in hard and kindle editions.
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