Book Review: Young Miles

Young Miles, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Although I have already reviewed all of the component parts of this omnibus collection separately [1], I figured it would be worthwhile to comment a little bit on what makes such a collection worthwhile. If one were being picky about titles, this book should be called “Young Adult Miles” because it captures his life in his late teens and early 20’s, all of which is highly revealing when one looks back on them in the context of the Vorkosigan saga as a whole. As is often the case, works at the beginning take on a different context in light of a larger whole, and novels (and a short story) that are read either alone or in a different context are far different when looked at as part of a different and larger context, something that is made explicit when these three tales are placed in a chronological order.

All of these stories share a common thread, and that is a young Vor lord seeking to claim an honorable place in his home culture while rising above his obvious physical limitations and come to terms with his complicated background. Much of “The Warrior’s Apprentice” and “The Vor Game” occur in a galactic setting where Miles’ expansive and appealing alter ego Miles Naismith is causing mayhem and chewing up scenery. Yet all of the galactic military sci-fi hijinks, when placed together, reveal that Miles’ true heart is with his homeland, with the hardscrabble people of the Dendarii Mountains and with the well-being of his friends and relatives. This is especially obvious when one compares the knight errant Miles in “The Montains Of Mourning” with his pro-Bayarran mercenary outfit “The Dendarii Mercenaries” and its actions to serve the interests of Barrayar as well as Miles’ own need for action.

These stories are classic steps towards growing up to be a noble and respected lord in a militaristic society like Barrayar. First, after being rejected from the Imperial Academy on account of his fragile health, he goes off to Beta to avoid the shame of rejection, but picks a fleet name that reminds him of home, and contrives to donate the fleet to the control of the Imperium when he gets home, at which point he joins the Academy so he can become a military leader, one of the expected jobs of a high vor like Miles. After graduating, he serves as his father’s voice, using his technical expertise in interrogations and his obvious passion to bring Bayarran culture to galactic standards by serving in a political/judicial role, another important aspect of being a count’s heir. Then, in the Vor Game, he helps increase Bayarran diplomatic prestige in an important area of the galaxy while foiling the attempts of a rival empire and archenemy, the Cetagandan Empire, and helps save the life of the gloomy young emperor Gregor, which leads to further honor for him, even after some political difficulties. These are novels about a young man making his way in a dangerous world, preparing him for future glory and providing him with the space to be a militaristic young man in a militaristic society. They hint at greater changes to come, but do not even begin to show the full complexity of Miles Vorkosigan as a man.

[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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3 Responses to Book Review: Young Miles

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Miles Errant | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Salvage Trouble | Edge Induced Cohesion

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

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