Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold
CetagandaPhysically, Lieutenant Miles Vorkosigan doesn’t look like a hero. Intellectually he is what the Cetagandans need to prevent a planetary civil war that could bleed over to his planet of Barrayar.
Barrayar and Cetaganda have been enemies for years. Right now there is an uneasy truce between the two planetary systems. When the Dowager Empress dies, representatives from all over the nearby galaxy go to the Cetagandan system for her royal funeral. Lord Miles Vorkosigan and his cousin Lord Ivan Vorpatril are the representatives from Barrayar. As Lord Vorkosigan, son of the Regent of Barrayar, Miles is a welcome representative. As Lieutenant Vorkosigan of the Imperial Sec Corps he is in a good position to spy if needed.
When they first arrive on the planet, their shuttle lands at the wrong deck. A slave runs on their ship, leaves something behind. Miles pockets the strange object. Their shuttle is then ordered to redock. When they dock properly, no one on Cetaganda can explain what happened or why. At one of the first official funeral parties, the slave is found murdered. At another one Miles comes under attack. The trap was set up so that Miles is the only one who could have been affected.
Then Miles is summoned by the most beautiful woman he has ever met. It seems with the death of the Dowager Empress, haut Rian Degtiar, is the temporary head of the Cetagandan breeding program until a new lady is honored with the position. Miles immediately falls in love with an unobtainable woman. She wants Miles to return the object that was given to him by the slave. But there is a bigger problem. That was supposed to be the key to their breeding database. But it’s a fake. Now Miles get involved in a plot that could tear the Cetagandan empire apart. Barrayar could get caught in the fall out – or set up and blamed for the disaster, leading to war between them.
Lois McMaster Bujold has a wonderful series of space opera novels featuring Lord Miles Vorkosigan and family. Miles is an unusual hero – born with physical disabilities. With multiple surgeries and therapies he is short, limps, and a bit off kilter, not the normal tall, dark, handsome, and athletic hero we usually see. He knows he is ignored and isn’t the dashing figure that his cousin Ivan is. Since most of his work is secret, few people know what he achieves. He has prevented civil wars, averted invasions, captained smuggling ships, and other exciting actions that no one would attribute to him.
In Cetaganda Bujold once again takes the overlooked Miles and has him save the day. He falls for haut Rian Degtiar but is realistic enough to know she wouldn’t look at him, yet hoping he is wrong. That doesn’t stop him fro helping her. He realizes that if he can’t discover who is sabotaging the Cetagandan breeding system, Barrayar could be blamed and caught up in inter galaxy politics.
The story is fun and fantastic. The snobby Cetagandans are over the top yet still work well in the novel. The attacks on Miles and Ivan are ingenious (poor Ivan…). Learn a little more about Miles and Ivan. Be entertained. Enjoy Cetaganda.