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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