Book Review: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold

The title of this book is a bit of a tease, which is not necessarily a bad thing, in that it refers to a marriage alliance made by Lord Ivan Vorpatril (best known for being comic relief in much of the Vorkosigan saga as a secondary character [1]). Here, in this novel, Ivan gets to stretch out and enjoy his own adventure. Naturally, this particular adventure relates to both the nobility of Ivan’s character (in particular a strain of gallantry that leads him into a sudden marriage to help save a woman in danger that leads him on a dramatic caper that extends across several planets). In many ways, this particular story is a lot like Komarr, with a gallant man dealing with corrupt Komarran officials and a damsel in distress. Here we see, in a vivid and fast-paced account, what Lord Ivan is like when he steps up to his responsibilities as a man and as a husband.

The results are heartwarming, as we see Ivan struggle in his relationships with his family (including Simon, his sort-of-stepfather) and struggle to show his wife his love and keep her from leaving him. We see humorous scenes about Ivan fretting over what others think and see a particularly disastrous attempt to divorce that shows Ivan and Taj (a refugree from a hostile corporate takeover in Jackson’s Whole) do not meet any of the grounds for a divorce. Ultimately, we see Ivan, who had lurched between short relationships with a fear of commitment and a fear that he would always be alone, learning how to be comfortable in dealing with the ups and downs of a relationship.

In the midst of all of this Ivan is faced with a massive and complicated plot wherein his in-laws seek to uncover some long-lost treasure in order to give them the seed capital to take back their House and their place at the pinnacle of Jackson Whole society. In the end, despite a rather stunning disaster in the heart of the capital city, the story ends gloriously happily, if in a somewhat complicated way. As a heartwarming story of a belated coming of age, of the way in which apparent disasters serve for the better, and a way in which decency and love triumph over greed and cynicism, this is a story that offers a rich and warm picture of a life that might have often been viewed as frivolous but which is seen to have been a response of fear. The triumph of love over fear offers a hope for those whose life is frivolous and dissipated, a hope that this is only a temporary state and that maturity comes to most, at least those who are decent and upright people.

[1] See, for example:

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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4 Responses to Book Review: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Falling Free | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: A Morbid Taste For Bones | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Non-Book Review: Syren’s Song | Edge Induced Cohesion

  4. Pingback: We Watched The Sunset Over The Castle On The Hill | Edge Induced Cohesion

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