Book Review: Borders Of Infinity

Borders Of Infinity, by Lois McMaster Bujold

As a series of loosely connected novellas that are part of a frame story of Miles Vorkosigan [1] working with the Barrayaran Security chief to foil a plot against his father’s rule as Prime Minister, what this series of short stories does is to convey certain gentlemanly aspects of Miles’ personality in stories that are too short for a novel and that convey the “normal life” of a clever and manic sort of person with a very complicated life as a secret agent for his government. As is common for this particular series, the stories told convey different sorts of commentaries on our contemporary world and its problems. It is also a book that shows an anti-hero in a particularly gallant and chivalric light, for the most part.

The first story in the series is “The Mountains of Morning,” which tells the story of Miles’ first case as a detective. His father sends him as his “voice” to a remote village where a woman has come seeking justice when her infant with cleft palate is killed. After having to face a couple of death threats and the hostility of a village as a “mutie lord” from a remote and backwoods community that is highly prejudiced against those who are deformed in any way. Given his own childhood injuries, his short and deformed stature, he takes the case personally (as I would) and comes up with an elegant solution to a thorny dilemma that shows mercy and justice and that manages to turn the parents of the slain girl into potential agents of progress in their town through education.

The second story, “Labyrinth,” deals with the planet of Jackson’s Whole (another “new” planet in the series with a libertarian culture full of sin and corruption, arms trading, and cloning), where Miles leads a team to extract a scientist from the planet in order to help out his somewhat backwards home planet. Of course, as might be expected, he is upset both with the corruption of the planet and with the inhumanity of the scientist he is called to rescue, especially when he is called upon to kill a science experiment who ends up being a lovestruck and extremely hormonal teenage girl, who naturally Miles rescues instead of killing, because of his gallant nature.

The third story is “Borders Of Infinity,” which deals with a particularly unusual case of skullduggery where Miles gets himself sent into a supposedly escape proof Cetagandan prison in order to free a small army of rebels to help their planet resist Cegatandian domination and weaken the empire (and prevent it from attacking his own homeland). After dealing with the cruelty of prisoners and helping to inspire a sort of military discipline among the prisoners, he delivers the army mostly intact despite some losses, succeeding in his mission, even if it happens to be expensive. The end result is that the plot to harm his father’s reputation is exposed and dealt with and Miles’ honor is maintained.

There have been other collections of novellas I have read for other series (though none recently) and where this one succeeds the best is not only fleshing out the worldbuilding a little bit, but also providing compelling and interrelated tales that are worthy of interest on their own, especially as they provide incidents that are referred to in other novels and that provide further evidence of some of the consistent themes of Miles’ personality and character, including his susceptibility to injury, his attraction to strong and competent women, and his gallantry in general. As a good novelist, this is a good effort, and ought to be appreciated by those who enjoy the series as a whole, and wonder when the movies for this series are ever going to be made.

[1] See:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/book-review-cordelias-honor/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/book-review-the-warriors-apprentice/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/book-review-the-vor-game/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/book-review-cetaganda/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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18 Responses to Book Review: Borders Of Infinity

  1. Eric Roth says:

    Nathan – Can I send you two books for your astonishing reading habits? You might, I suspect, find them a bit breeze, but they are intended to help English language learners develop their reading skills.

    Shalom,

    Eric H. Roth Master Lecturer American Language Institute USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences University of Southern California 950 West Jefferson Blvd. Los Angeles, California 90089-1292 Tel: 213-740-8437 Email: ericroth@usc.edu website: http://dornsife.usc.edu/cf/faculty-and-staff/faculty.cfm?pid=1012794

    “Education is an ornament in prosperity, and a refuge in adversity.” Aristotle

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