Cetaganda by Lois McMaster BujoldMay 10, 2004 at 12:00 am | Posted in 4 stars, Book Reviews, Science Fiction | 1 Comment
Tags: Lois McMaster Bujold
fter writing what despite its many unique elements is a surprisingly traditional military book in Warrior’s Apprentice and a book that blended the military aspects with conspiracy in Vor Game, Bujold goes entirely to the conspiracy in Cetaganda. Really this is a detective novel which happens to have a space operaish SF setting. There are pros and cons to this, of course. The eugenics-based society of Cetaganda is an interesting one, although the people living in it are somewhat disappointingly normal. This makes the somewhat inevitable connect-the-dots nature of this and most detective novels a fun read. This is the best writing I have seen from Bujold, with the possible exception of the short story “Mountains of Mourning” (also a detective story). However Miles is wearing a little thin. I don’t buy his height at all…4’9″ is just ridiculously short. He is referred to as being shoulder high, but this seems awfully charitable to me. I’ve decided the books are best read with Miles around 5’3 or so in the mind’s eye…it makes it more believable that he would be taken seriously and makes up for the many sloppy uses of terms like “someone was at his shoulder” or “at his elbow” and so forth. That is a minor issue. The major issue is Miles is a jerk. He’s nice to people, but a jerk towards his own country, which is even less forgivable, especially in light of the values Miles himself claims to hold. In previous books his constant going-it-alone was played down, but here he does it himself expressly because he wants to be a hero and get promoted. Ugh. My sister has told me he doesn’t get away with this forever, but I’m wondering if it is worth it. Miles is so carefully drawn as a nice, smart guy I’ll probably feel bad if he gets the crushing he deserves, but infuriated if he doesn’t. At any rate, Cetaganda is a textbook example of good light reading.