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88 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for fans
I'm a fan of the Vorkosigan series, so for me, this was a five star book. I bought the electronic version through Baen and have already reread it.

For non fans, I'm not sure how it would go, but probably 4 stars. Would people who don't know Ivan understand the complaint of Ivan's boss? The boss asked why Ivan's mother asked him about Ivan's personal life...
Published on November 6, 2012 by Teresa McCullough

versus
32 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Was this accidental or on purpose?
How can I say this (no spoilers)? I think Lois has lost her chops.

We had that long hiatus with Sharing Knife. So maybe she just wanted to try something really different. And then Cryoburn might be forgiven as a "getting warmed back up" kind of novel. It wasn't Mirror Dance but nothing is.

(side rant) Does anyone else think Tej is the galactic...
Published on November 8, 2012 by Sandra M. Brown


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88 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for fans, November 6, 2012
This review is from: Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga) (Hardcover)
I'm a fan of the Vorkosigan series, so for me, this was a five star book. I bought the electronic version through Baen and have already reread it.

For non fans, I'm not sure how it would go, but probably 4 stars. Would people who don't know Ivan understand the complaint of Ivan's boss? The boss asked why Ivan's mother asked him about Ivan's personal life instead of asking Ivan. Ivan responded, "Experience, maybe."

There are gems all the way through the book for fans and non fans. It is mentioned that on Barrayar people were subjects, not citizens. Someone notes that the emperor is the only one on Barrayar that isn't a subject and wonders if that makes him an object. Humor abounds and all sorts of characters from previous novels make cameo appearances. Bujold sensibly keeps Cordelia, Miles, and Mark largely out of the picture, because they tend to dominate. The plethora of minor characters would be a problem for a new reader of the series, but are enjoyable to people who've met them before.

Bujold had a difficult task in this book. She has a hero that is not an overly ambitious man, and she made him sympathetic and enjoyable. Ivan is shown at his best. He is brave, loyal and chivalrous. He comes through when he needs to. He's not as bright as Miles or Cordelia, but he isn't stupid.

I would not advise people who haven't read Bujold before to start here, although her writing has never been better. If you haven't read the Vorkosigan series, there are a number of good books waiting for you.
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82 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best Vorkosiverse entry to date., November 6, 2012
This review is from: Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga) (Hardcover)
It's really hard to discuss this tale without including spoilers, but I'll try. The only summation that I'll provide is an indirect one; this book takes large parts of the plots of Komarr and A Civil Campaign, mashes them together, turns them inside out, and twists - hard. This is not the first Barrayar story that has been centered on someone other than her main protagonist, Miles Vorkosigan, though he has been the focus of most of them. The events of Cryoburn left Miles with a very much restructured life, however, and it may be difficult for Bujold to write more about him entertainingly, so it's not surprising that she has shifted to Ivan here. He has been a background character since early on, and this is where he finally comes into his own. He's getting respect, he's lost his customary middle name (it has been a running gag across many volumes that he's usually called 'Ivan-you-idiot'), his career is solid and stable - and then Byerly Vorrutyer drops in to ask for a favor. That's where the toboggan run starts, and this one's got more than its share of unexpected turns. Along the way, we get a hefty dose of the ever-treasured one-line zingers that have increasing marked Bujold's writing, and some surprising supporting character development as well. It's clear that Bujold is not done with adding to her Barrayar series, and if this is any indication of what's to come, I hope there are many, many more!
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ivan to the rescue!, November 9, 2012
By 
L. Roth (Ravena, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga) (Hardcover)
It has been observed that most human males die before reaching maturity.

Lord Ivan Xav Vorpatril has nearly managed that several times in his short life. The earliest such occasion occurred about an hour before he was born, during an attempt on the throne of Barrayar in which his mother and father were caught by forces loyal to the pretender. His father died while friends tried to rescue them; his mother managed to escape with them and give birth to Ivan while in hiding afterwards.

So, given that early pre-natal conditioning as it were, Ivan has spent most of his life trying to avoid politics or attracting too much attention to himself while attempting to live a comfortable life. Not an easy task for someone potentially in line for the throne, and made even less easy by his manic cousin Miles Vorkosigan, who has an absolute genius for attracting chaos in his wake - and dragging Ivan into it. And it doesn't help that Ivan's determination to avoid living up to all of his potential too visibly is made all the more conspicuous by contrast with the friends and family around him.

By age 34, Ivan has managed to work himself into a fairly comfortable position: a taste for good food and drink, comfortable lodgings, and a job as Captain and aide to a high ranking admiral in the Barrayarran armed forces where he serves ably. A certain amount of status, a job challenging enough to be interesting without the headaches of high rank, enough leisure and status to attract a fair number of bedmates on a regular basis, and distance from his mother, who is still waiting for Ivan to get on with his life. True, most of Ivan's old girlfiends seem to have all gotten married. Even his cousin Miles has managed to settle down and start raising a family. And things don't seem to be quite as much fun as they were when he was younger...

Nonetheless, despite his efforts to keep a low profile, avoid politics, and romantic commitment, Ivan can't help himself when his sensibilities override his normal caution. He's proved himself able to act swiftly and intelligently when circumstances force it on him, and his proven loyalty to the Emperor (and family connections) have of late earned him some respect - and attention - in his own right. So it's not entirely unexpected that an otherwise routine assignment would be interrupted by a undercover agent of Imperial Security in a tight spot calling on him without warning for help.

Nothing too dangerous, nothing too arduous - Byerly Vorrutyer just wants him to see if he can make the acquaintance of a young woman and find out why the dangerous people the agent is trying to corral are so interested in her. Ivan reluctantly agrees. (It doesn't hurt that she's beautiful after all.)

Boy meets girl; girl rebuffs boy; boy persists; girl's unexpected female companion stuns boy and the two of them drag him into their apartment and tie him up while they figure out what to do next. It seems Ivan's target is on the run from a rather nasty power struggle, doesn't know if the others in her family have survived, and is about out of options. Tej and her exotic companion Rish are refugees from Jackson's Whole and figure Ivan is an assassin. Ivan manages to convince them of his bona fides by frustrating an attempt to kidnap the two women - while still tied to the chair!

And after that, it begins to get really interesting. Ancient secrets, complex familial relationships, deadly adventures, sheer comedy, pathos, romance, Imperial crogglement - Bujold has crafted another richly satisfying tale.

Ivan Vorpatril has been in the Vorkosigan saga as long as Miles. He's grown from being a comedic foil and butt of jokes to an interesting character in his own right. (A running gag in the series has been his constant disparagement as "Ivan-You-Idiot". This time around a character is impressed enough to comment "Your mother told me she didn't think you could be an idiot.") This novel is Ivan's first full story, and continues the growth that began in Memory (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures) and flowered in A Civil Campaign to a satisfying fulfillment.

Along the way, we also get some wonderful glimpses of how Miles and his wife Ekaterin are getting along, not to mention Duv Galeni and Delia. And what happens to Imp Sec is worth the price of admission all by itself. (An additional note: this story takes place about 4 years before Miles most recent novel: Cryoburn (The Vorkosigan Saga).)
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and light hearted, November 6, 2012
I think this was the most enjoyable Vorkosigan Saga book since "A Civil Campaign", for many of the same reasons that book was fantastic. It is a light-hearted look at family and balancing the obligations of family, friends, and society. Ivan had not been doing a good job of balancing those obligations, and he receives his long-awaited karmic reckoning.

The last 30 or so pages are an absolute riot.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun! Fun! Fun!, November 13, 2012
This review is from: Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga) (Hardcover)
Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series is a long-running character-driven quasi-feudal space opera (with cast of thousands). Because the question is less whether to read Bujold than whether to pick up this particular volume, I'm posting my review in the form of a decision tree.

1.Are you a fan of romantic comedy?
1-YES-> This is a wonderful example. [CONTINUE to 1.1]
1-N0 -> This one might win you over. [CONTINUE to 1.1]

1.1.Are you already a fan of the Vorkosigan series?
1.1-YES-> [CONTINUE to 1.2]
1.1-N0 -> Are you an experienced reader of romance?
1.1.1-YES-> This is a brilliant riff on a well-known romantic trope.
------------[CONTINUE to 1.2]
1.1.1-N0 -> Start with one of the other books, such as "The Vor Game."[STOP]

1.2.Do you love Ivan?
1.2-YES he's brilliant!-> [CONTINUE to 1.3]
1.2-NO he's an idiot! -> Consult your psychoanalyst.[STOP]

1.3.Do you love Illya..er..Simon Illyan?
1.3-YES-> [CONTINUE to 1.4]
1.3-NO -> Simon has a great part in the story [FLAG] and [CONTINUE]

1.4.Do you require the presence of Miles Vorkosigan?
1.4-YES-> Miles & the Vorkosigan house have tiny cameos. [STOP]
1.4-NO -> [CONTINUE to 1.5]

1.5.Do you appreciate brilliant plotting?
1.5-YES-> This one is meets high-Vor standards [CONTINUE to 1.6]
1.5-NO -> Don't worry, the story is also loads of fun! [CONTINUE to 1.6]

1.6-Are you willing to accept a bit of uneven pacing in what is essentially two separate stories linked together by a central romance?
1.6-YES-> [CONTINUE to 1.7]
1.6-NO -> [STOP]

1.7-[BUY THIS BOOK!]
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Things to remember, November 11, 2012
By 
This review is from: Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga) (Hardcover)
This is NOT a Vorkosigan book. It is a Vorpatril book. Vorkosigans are mentally nimble and thrive on conflict and chaos. The one Vorpatril who has appeared in nearly every Vorkosigan book has a different set of priorities and, as result, the book is different from a typical Vorkosigan book.

But that's not to say that it isn't any good!

Watching Ivan deal with all of his friends and relatives is always fun and he's got quite a surprising reason for chatting with them. And then there are the people from Jackson's Whole, who have equally good reasons to chat with his relatives and friends... Oh, and then there's By Vorrutyer as well! Lois has sometimes said that her plots are based on finding the traumatic thing she can do to her characters and then working from there. She's certainly found Ivan's weaknesses!

The startling thing about this novel is that the hero is not a do-or-die kind of guy, he's just a decent person stuck in a difficult position and doing his best (which sometimes isn't very good) to keep everybody from getting hurt. This is a direct departure from the usual Vorkosigan novel. Another departure is that the reader has to do a lot of the work in connecting the dots because Ivan is busy trying to avoid doing so for the reader. CJ Cherryh does the same sort of thing and I've always found it to be very interesting (and it makes you want to go back and re-read the story to better understand the parts you missed earlier) but it isn't for every reader.

There's not much new world-building going on here but there is an intense examination of Barryar from a much different viewpoint than the Vorkosigans and the reader gets a much better understanding of certain things that should have been self-evident from the beginning of the series. I do not know whether Lois knew these things all along or made them up for this novel but it is impressive.

Another startling thing about the book is that the reader has no real understanding of how the book is going to end until the last few pages. There's no big bad guy in this novel but there are a lot of interested parties tryin to push the story in a particular direction and the book hangs in the air until the very end. But the ending is VERY appropriate and satisfying.

The book will probably be more appealing to female readers than male readers because most of Ivan's problems come from his inadequate responses to certain questions certain women drop on him. I, as a male reader, would have enjoyed the book more if there had been 50 pages less of this sort of humor, but it was not without its merits.

My final note is that the humor in the novel is better developed and sustained than in any other book in the series (including Civil Campaign).

My only remaining question: What will Lois choose to do next? She's long since earned the right to do whatever she wants.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light hearted, yet detailed., November 10, 2012
By 
TheFrey (Pennsylvania) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga) (Hardcover)
Yes, we all cheer for Ivan, but I also liked reading about By the Vor-town-clown-ImSec-weasel. We also get a bit more of a look at Lady Alys and Simon, so all good there. While some have argued that it is was not a 'seat of your chair' suspense filled book, I beg to differ. I received the book yesterday late, and finished it at 5:30 this morning. It was a joy to read about characters we all love, who while having problems were NOT in mortal peril. Well at least not too much. :)

It is fun and definitely re-readable. And will definitely be finding a new home come Christmas, after I carefully re-read it a few times, so I can get the more portable paperback edition when it comes out.

The last chapter is a howl. Overall, I'd say it's a keeper.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure fun, November 7, 2012
This review is from: Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga) (Hardcover)
Totally awesome. I love this series and Ivan's book was such FUN. I spent most of the book with an ear to ear grin. Just one scene with Miles (which is good, or he would have taken over) but some lovely character moments with Lady Alys and Simon Illyan, plus the reappearance of Byerly Vorrutyer. And, OMG the scene with Count Falco... And the ending, and, and, it's killing me not to give spoilers. Loved this book. If husband wasn't reading it, I'd probably be rereading my fave scenes right now.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Binge reading, November 14, 2012
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This review is from: Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga) (Hardcover)
After waiting for so long for a new Vorkosigan Saga book, I read this one in one day! Oops, should have savored it.

As a fan of everything LMB has written, I give it five stars. For new readers, maybe start with something else, because this is not her best. On the other hand, if you love romance novels and aren't as interested science fiction, this and 'A Civil Campaign' are perfect for you. It has a somewhat familiar romance novel plot - and it has all the pleasures of my favorite romance novels (especially my all time favorite, Georgette Heyer)- without the annoying aspects of far too many of them (why is every damsel pursued homicidal crazies, or forced into sham marriages for protection? Oh, wait, this book has those too. But it does avoid excruciatingly detailed and repetitive love scenes and irrational plot twists.) I missed Miles, but it was a pleasure to see Ivan's strengths no longer overshadowed.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ivan, you idiot!, November 7, 2012
By 
This review is from: Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga) (Hardcover)
"Ivan, you idiot!" is the way that most of the other characters in the Vorkosigan series address Ivan Vorpatril, Miles Vorkosigan's cousin. Ivan isn't as sharp or as ambitious as his cousin Miles, but he isn't stupid. He's smart enough to realise that he's a potential claimant to the throne if anything happens to Emperor Gregor Vorbarra. On Barrayar, that makes him a magnet for plots: those who want to use him for their own ends, and those who want to prevent others from using him. He lacks enough wealth and power in his own right to protect himself, so he disguises himself as a non-entity: a Vor class playboy lacking ability and ambition.

In previous Vorkosigan Saga novels, he's been absent or merely a bit player, a tall handsome Vor cousin to Miles, acting as comic relief and contrast to his brilliant cousin. He takes centre stage in this novel. Ivan's abhorred cousin Byerly Vorrutyer (previously appearing in A Civil Campaign IIRC) ropes Ivan into one of his plots. Shortly afterwards, Ivan is kidnapped by a pair of beautiful women and marries one of them, with the aid of a box of breakfast cereal, to prevent them both from getting arrested (trust me, it makes sense in the book). After that, things start to get complicated. The climax is a twist you will never see coming, but in retrospect makes perfect sense. It is at its heart a love story, and I found it a bit frustrating in parts, yelling "Just tell each other how you feel already!" at the screen (I read the Kindle edition). Not the strongest book in the series but still satisfying.
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Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga)
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga) by Lois McMaster Bujold (Hardcover - November 6, 2012)
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