thefourthvine's Reviews > Memory

Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold
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Jun 04, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: sff
Read in January, 1997

This is my favorite of all the Vorkosigan books (although, oh my god, don't start here; you have to read all the ones that came before it to appreciate it), because in it, Bujold does something very difficult very well: she massively changes the main character of an ongoing, established series.

Series tend to stagnate because authors don't let their characters develop in any but inconsequential ways. Bujold has never had that problem; Miles has grown up over the course of the books he's in, developed, become a real adult.

But it became obvious, in the novels preceding Memory, that Bujold had written herself into a corner: Miles couldn't develop anymore without major changes to his life and his character. And Bujold makes those changes, and pulls it off.

I really don't want to spoil this here; if this is your thing, I want you to read it, see how she does it. So I will just say: wow. This is an impressive novel - fun plot, good pacing, strong narrative, and a character reboot done right. (And, to be honest, I wish I'd stopped reading the series here; this would've been the best ending note in all the world.)
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02/02/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Jenne (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenne So where should one start? I always hear such great things about these books and I've just never gotten around to reading them.

message 2: by thefourthvine (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

thefourthvine There are two places you can start. One follows the published order, the other follows series chronology.

If you're a completist, a total spoilerphobe, or a romance fan, you can start with the first book in series chronology, Shards of Honor. I really enjoyed Shards of Honor, but a) it was a first novel (though not a first published novel), and it shows, b) it's rumored to be reworked fan fiction, and that's a totally believable rumor, and c) the main characters of this book are not the main characters of the series.

So the way I recommend most people start is with The Warrior's Apprentice. This was the first published book - the book that truly launched the series - and it's the first book about Miles. It's also a much more accurate look at what the next few books will be like. The downside to starting here: you'll be very much spoiled for the two books preceding it in series chronology (Shards of Honor and Barrayar). But the author knew that. (And, frankly, Barrayar is my second-least-favorite book in the series, so I'm unlikely to worry about spoiling you for it.)

This series definitely has ups and downs, so let me just mention that my favorite books (the high points for me, in other words) are (in series chronology) Shards of Honor, The Warrior's Apprentice, The Vor Game, Borders of Infinity, and Memory. Others totally disagree with me, of course.

And if you're more of a fantasy fan than a space opera fan, you might actually want to consider trying The Curse of Chalion before the Vorkosigan books. The Curse of Chalion shows what Bujold can do, what she's capable of as a writer, something that is slowly revealed (or slowly develops) over the course of the Vorkosigan series. It's a better introduction to Bujold than the Vorkosigan books are. (Although the sequel - oh my god, do not get me started.)

And - and, oh my god, I *need to shut up now*, don't I? I - I can talk a lot about things I read. Um. Yeah. In fact, it's sort of hard to prevent me from doing it.

*slinks off*

message 3: by Jenne (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenne No no, this is exactly the reason I like this Goodreads thing!

I have requested The Warrior's Apprentice from the library, and oh god, I already have 24 books checked out but I am looking forward to reading it.

message 4: by Jenne (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:48AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenne Okay, so I read the Warrior's Apprentice, and you were right, it's a much better place to start.
I had read Shards of Honor at some point and thought "huh, I don't see what the fuss is about, there's one less series to have to read now."
But this one was great, really funny, and I love that kind of story where some newbie officer (well, not really, but you see what I mean) basically through luck and chutzpah ends up commanding a whole army.

Trice oh, man! I love Miles, but I was so very glad I started with Shards of Honor and Barrayar (one of my favorites) and went straight through from there - how could you not love the shopping in Vorbarr Sultana line? I felt like those 1st 2 really start off that strong line through the books of the strength of women outside of all the crappy stereotypes (not to deny that she includes some of those too), and from that you understand Miles' and everyone else's (well, on Barrayar... and military history buffs) idolizing Aral. Without that Miles doesn't make as much sense in his crazy onward and upward drive.

and, yes, Chalion is awesome too...

just had to add my bit :)

Kathleen Well said! Totally agree. Bujold did a superb job of transforming Miles, and in a manner that was more than believable, in line with his upbringing and in keeping with prior books. This is probably my favorite in the series.

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