Book Review: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

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Still playing catch up. By the time I’m done writing the last group of reviews for last year, I’ll have a half dozen to do for this year so far.

The most recent book in the Vorkosigan Saga, and while I enjoyed the story, it’s even more of a departure from what I think of as a Vorkosigan story than the last two have been. It’s almost as if Ms. Bujold is taking several books to tie up every loose end and give most of the characters happy endings if she can.

Like with Ivan Vorpatril’s wrap up in the last book, we’re still more or less staying away from Miles (the primary hero of the series), focusing instead on his mother, the original hero of the first couple of books, Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan. Cordelia gets her happy ending, though it’s a little while in coming, as does the other titular character Oscar Jole. That’s not really a spoiler.

What might be is that this isn’t really space opera or action adventure or military SF, all of which you’d normally expect in the series. This is a romance taking place in a small piece of the overall setting for the action military space opera the series is known for. More, it’s a romance between two people who are in their later years.

Oh sure, there’s other stuff going on, political and diplomatic, and occasionally logistical, but everything in the book contributes to the building, strengthening, or deepening of relationships, especially the one between Oscar and Cordelia.

It’s a slower paced story than her fans might be used to, but it’s completely and totally worth the read. Through Oscar and Cordelia, we get insights into the fact that there’s more to being an adult than just hitting the age of majority and having to make your own big boy/girl decisions. Adulthood makes up most of our lives and there are stages and things that have to be dealt with throughout, and things are different depending on what stage of adulthood we might be in.

This book explores some of those things for people in a stage that’s usually neglected and reminds us that just because there’s snow on the roof doesn’t mean there’s no fire in the hearth.

Overall rating: 4 stars. Possibly because I’m in my own middle years and look at things a lot differently than I did even a decade ago, this book speaks to me on a level that often gets missed. I like to think and I like to see the world and the universe in different ways and I like it when someone shows me something I don’t normally get to see. I’m getting that here.

Be well, everyone.

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