Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

Cetaganda (Vorkosigan Saga, #9)
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Challenges - Discussion > Vorkosigan 5 -- Cetaganda

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message 1: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Jan 25, 2020 03:10PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kateblue | 3604 comments Mod
Please talk about Cetaganda here

Please remember to use spoilers. If you don't know how, click on (some html is ok) in the right hand corner of the box you are typing in to learn how.

You should be at this point by the end of March at least. Ideally, you will also be reading Ethan of Athos by the end of March/beginning of April (at least).


Allan Phillips | 1853 comments Mod
Starting in on this one after finishing The Vor Game earlier today.


message 3: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Feb 10, 2020 06:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kateblue | 3604 comments Mod
Wow! Allen, you are really cooking! I stopped Cetaganda to read other stuff, but you have really caught up to me now. Don't worry, even if I don't start right away, I will be able to discuss, having read it . . . 1 . . .2 . . . 3 . . . Don't know how many times.


message 4: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3388 comments Mod
Oh, folk, you're running ahead of me - I'm only on The Vor Game and then the 2nd Expanse novel


Allan Phillips | 1853 comments Mod
I read 4 shorter books between Apprentice and Vor, but it's all just timing since I've always got up to half a dozen going. I've already read The Expanse up to Tiamat's Wrath and I'm ahead of the monthly reads, so Vorkosigan has been my main focus. They're fun and easy to read, even with the occasional implausible coincidence to propel the story along, nothing any other good adventure doesn't do. Plus Vor and Cetaganda are library books, so I want to get them read and turned back in. I've got all of them sourced so I can continue to move along till I get tired of Miles and need a break.


message 6: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kateblue | 3604 comments Mod
Yes I have to continue the expanse and I keep forgetting


Allan Phillips | 1853 comments Mod
About 1/3 in, Miles as James Bond.


Allan Phillips | 1853 comments Mod
Finished it this morning. It was very good, award-worthy. I thought it was going to take a ridiculous turn at one point but thankfully it didn't, and wound up with a much more plausible, clean ending.

Already started Ethan of Athos but haven't much time to put into it. Library also had the Miles Errant omnibus, so I can move along well.


message 9: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3388 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "Finished it this morning. "

You're faster than fast-penta :)


message 10: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Santoro | 194 comments I really enjoyed the Cetagandans.. excellent bad guys for the Barrayarans, for sure... opposite in many ways, but not so much so that you can't picture them being allies at some point.

Miles as James Bond was definitely fun, and the coincidences were greatly toned down this time.

(view spoiler)


message 11: by J.W. (new) - rated it 4 stars

J.W. | 21 comments Yep I liked this one but it might be my least favorite so far. Just didn’t find the side characters as compelling as the last few. Ceragandan culture is interesting, for sure.


Lee at ReadWriteWish (leeatreadwritewish) | 68 comments I just finished and must say this is my least favourite thus far. I really had quite a few issues. Here is my rambling review with it all outlined. No spoilers in it. Hopefully Miles wakes up to himself soon. :)


Antti Värtö (andekn) | 724 comments Great review, Lee! I can definitely see why you were annoyed with the things you mention, but they didn't bother me - in fact, many of the issues you had with the books were it's main attractions to me.

I liked it that Miles didn't always do the most responsible actions but chose paths that would make him the hero. This fits very well with my image of a crippled genius as a young man: annoyed at being looked down upon over and over again, wanting to prove himself and get the glory, not thinking with his head but with his boner when he sees a stunning beauty... I found this very realistic, even nuanced.

And I share your exasperation with the Dr Who school of SF. What is the technological level of Vorkosigan universe? There doesn't seem to be full consistency, here. If the haut-ladies' force bubbles are nigh-impenetrable, why don't the Barrayaran lord use something similar, since they are so often in danger of being assassinated? Why don't the SOLDIERS use them? It doesn't really seem to make sense, and that's annoying. I can accept magic, but inconsistent magic is very grating.

But still, I liked the book quite a lot, since I was reading it mainly for the exploration of Cetagandan society. The double-layered aristocracy was an interesting concept, especially since it was revealed bit by bit to contain exceedingly complex set of checks and balances, with even the lowest-seeming servitors having surprisingly large amount of importance and power. And even in the end it was unclear if we've seen it all.

Add the little details like the ghem-lords' face paint (with the young racontours wearing only small patches in their cheek), the haut-ladies hair, the exceedingly heavy robes of the emperor, and it felt like a real, living culture. I just wish we'd seen some common people, as well.


Lee at ReadWriteWish (leeatreadwritewish) | 68 comments Antti wrote: "Great review, Lee! I can definitely see why you were annoyed with the things you mention, but they didn't bother me - in fact, many of the issues you had with the books were it's main attractions t..."

I think if it was just the bubbles and the face paint, I would have been fine. But there was so much other stuff!

And yeah, I see that LMB was making Miles more real with his flaws and immaturity but I'm eager to move on. LOL I've got to admit it does show how immersed she is in her universe, that she has characters who will eventually age and therefore have all this history. And to think she wrote many of them out of order!


message 15: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3388 comments Mod
Antti wrote: " If the haut-ladies' force bubbles are nigh-impenetrable, why don't the Barrayaran lord use something similar, since they are so often in danger of being assassinated?"

Their honor prevents them from being called sissy? lol. Seriously I assume it is extremely expensive, so only Empire has this tech in civilian's hands. Large scale it is used in ships


message 16: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kateblue | 3604 comments Mod
I suspect it is because Cetagandans are not going to give the secret of the bubbles away. It's Beta that is famous for creating good technology and stuff for sale . . . oh, and Jackson's Whole.

Cetaganda is an enemy of Barrayar so no way would they give that tech to them. In fact, Cetaganda thinks they are superior to all and does not play well with others.


Allan Phillips | 1853 comments Mod
I think it was the different setting that helped elevate this one for me, and the espionage-type story. The previous ones had started running together a bit, so it injected a new element. I also found it kind of funny that Miles gets a Cetagandan honor but then also a contract on his head. The series is not exactly consistent, and it is fairly lightweight, so some things like the coincidences can be passed by fairly easily.


message 18: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kateblue | 3604 comments Mod
What I always thought was weird was not the honor-which could mess him up on Barrayar, but the fact that Miles let them take his DNA for its possible use in the Cetagandan genome. Not that they couldn't have just stolen it if they wanted . . .


message 19: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Santoro | 194 comments I thought about that with the force bubbles as well... I was assuming that their cultural power was an equal to the physical... one could burn through one if one was willing to kill the occupant, for example, but they couldn't do that and undermine society with other officers around.

Just assuming their either too expensive or too power hungry for use elsewhere makes it work in my head.

I agreed Miles was a bit too hungry for praise here... his success with the Dendarii should have broken him of that. OTOH, he didn't really ever get proper praise for most of his daring-do (since it was top secret), so maybe he was feel unappreciated... that certainly fits with his character.

I agree I'd like them to just have him get the operation to get his legs fixed now though... it's been a plot point enough that I'm ready to move on.


message 20: by Nick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 137 comments Joe wrote: "I agreed Miles was a bit too hungry for praise here... his success with the Dendarii should have broken him of that."

Yeah, I felt that too! Miles was believable as a young, insecure guy with a chip on his shoulder about his looks, but it does seem odd coming after books like The Vor Game and The Warriors Apprentice where he's much more stoical about his disadvantages and advantages.


Kirsten  (kmcripn) This was the first Vorkosigan book I ever read and I loved it. It really got me primed for the rest of the series. It also got me into the audiobooks for this series. Compared to the other books in the series, it's a little low key.


message 22: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Sep 29, 2020 06:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Art | 2547 comments Mod
I haven't read any of the comments so far. I'm loving Cetaganda though! It has a lot more sci-fi elements which are excellently executed. Finally we are getting somewhere, it is also the first Miles book I'm thoroughly enjoying.

Looking forward to getting back to it tomorrow.


message 23: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 4 stars

Art | 2547 comments Mod
Half way through and I'm really glad it is leaving so heavily towards sci-fi. It allows for a more vibrant world building.

Miles is still winging it, but in a more believable manner. His opponents are still stumbling into blurting that ONE viral piece of information that lets Miles out the rest of the picture together. Still, very little of it is exaggerated to the point where it becomes a tour de force of coincidences and lucky breaks, like the other two books.

The questionable use of genetics, futuristic aristocracy, etc are all welcome. I was growing tired of naval adventure stories and whodunnit plots of earlier Miles books.


Kalin | 584 comments Yeah, Cetaganda is one big crazy genetic engineering experiment, which makes for lots of interesting SF ideas.

I always thought that, given the description of the "superhuman" haut caste we see in Cetaganda, it is shocking that feudal Barrayar was able to repel a planetary invasion of so advanced an empire.


Kalin | 584 comments Art wrote: "I was growing tired of naval adventure stories and whodunnit plots of earlier Miles books."

There is a solid amount of diversity in the coming books, but the whodunnit plot angle does recur often. There's usually a mystery for Miles to solve.


message 26: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 4 stars

Art | 2547 comments Mod
Kalin wrote: "I always thought that, given the description of the "superhuman" haut caste we see in Cetaganda, it is shocking that feudal Barrayar was able to repel a planetary invasion of so advanced an empire.."

I think it's mostly because the crude space flight technology was sufficient enough to hold a choke point around the wormhole. Also Barrayarans are probably just better at waging wars.


Antti Värtö (andekn) | 724 comments I think the given explanation was that the invasion of Barrayar was purely a ghem project, which the haut didn't support - so the Cetagandans were fighting with "one arm tied behind their back", so to speak.


Lee at ReadWriteWish (leeatreadwritewish) | 68 comments Kalin wrote: "I always thought that, given the description of the "superhuman" haut caste we see in Cetaganda, it is shocking that feudal Barrayar was able to repel a planetary invasion of so advanced an empire."

I think the point was that the Barrayarans fought more hand-to-hand down and dirty guerrilla type warfare. There are references to the mountain men and their horses and how their underground type way of fighting was a bit of a shock to Cetagandans who were expecting a more technically advanced fight. Perhaps a bit of a reflection of the way the US won the War of Independence?


message 29: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 4 stars

Art | 2547 comments Mod
That is a very good point, Lee.


message 30: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Santoro | 194 comments I definitely picture the Barrayans not so much winning as making it not worth the time and trouble for the Cetagandans to continue the war. Very much like the US, for sure.

So far I think this was the high point of the series for me.


message 31: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3388 comments Mod
Lee wrote: "Kalin wrote: " Perhaps a bit of a reflection of the way the US won the War of Independence?"

It is funny, but example I came with (before that thread) was not the US War of Independence, but the loss in Vietnam


message 32: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kateblue | 3604 comments Mod
Oleksandr wrote: It is funny, but example I came with (before that thread) was not the US War of Independence, but the loss in Vietnam."

Agree with both wars being similar examples of the "stronger" defeated by the "weaker." Also, in various books they tell some stories about the Ceta war that are amusing and give examples of how the Vor won. Also, I think part of it was that the Haut just got fed up and told them to cut it out. Not sure if that is clear from the current book.


TomK2 (thomaskrolick) | 299 comments Jumping back Into the Vorkosigan universe to end the year. I finished this one in April, and I plan on the next in December. I just can't bring myself to read all the Vorkosigan saga in one year --- I somehow feel I need to savor them, and make them last! I thought this book was significant because the Cetaganden "boogymen" referenced in the other books were finally described. And they weren't like what I was thinking before this book. Also, as previously noted, Mile's escapades are not nearly as outlandish and preposterous as in the earlier books, yet is is still good reading and true to the series. I read a few of the later books before I became determined to read the whole series in recommended order, and I am impressed that the books are good even when you jump around in the series.


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