Lois McMaster Bujold doesn't seem to be able to write a bad Vorkosigan Novel. Even though I didn't find it as gripping as Mirror Dance and Memory, Komarr is a fine addition to the fabric of the Nexus Universe. This novel does introduce at least one new likeable major character. A walk-on from Memory, Lord Auditor Vorthys, achieves major supporting status in Komarr. Other characters to remember for subsequent stories are Ekaterin and Nikolai Vorsoisson, Impsec Captain Tuomonen and Madame Dr. Vorthys.
The plot revolves around an accident/sabotage to Komarr's orbiting mirror array, a major component of Komarr's terraforming program three months after the events in Memory. The orbiting mirror array is crashed into by a ore towing spacecraft with no survivors. Emperor Gregor sends two Imperial Auditors, Vorthys and Miles, to investigate. Vorthys is sent because he is the empire's foremost failure analysis expert and is the actual accident investigator. Miles is present because Gregor doesn't want any political shrapnel from the accident to torpedo his impending wedding to a Komarran.
During a lull in the orbital investigation, Auditor Vorthys dragoons Miles into visiting his niece, Ekaterin Vorsoisson. She is married to the administrator of the Serifosa Branch of the Komarr Terraforming Project. It turns out that the employees of one of Vorsoisson's department are in on a scam siphoning off huge amounts of money for a mysterious project.
Miles and Ekaterin foil the plots of these Komarran terrorists almost too handily. Coincidence rears its head with a vengeance. Ekaterin accidentally encounters one of the conspirators at a crucial moment. Miles and Vorthys visit Ekaterin when the conspiracy is in her husband's purview. Like all of Bujold's books, this novel is character driven. This book is in reality, a character study of Ekaterin. This is tipped off by the fact that many scenes that involve Miles and Ekaterin are told from Ekaterin's viewpoint. She is a very intelligent woman with many strong points, much like all of the major females protagonists that are in Miles' life. The interactions between Ekaterin and Miles form a very large part of the story.
Ekaterin, it is evident, is destined for great things in the Vorkosigan chronicles. In this book she falls in love with Miles, and of course, Miles falls for her like a ton of bricks. Naturally, in the best traditions of romance stories, the two are unaware of their mutual feelings. The playing out of this major subplot is evidently going to be in Impwed. [The current work in process].
Miles does not undergo the angst that he suffered in the previous two books. This is probably the reason why I didn't find it as good. This is strange as I don't usually require that the main characters suffer dire mental straits and bruises. This book seems to be a necessary lull to the highs of Mirror Dance and Memory .
In summary, this book, although it suffers in comparison to the last two, is still a fine story, advances the running plotline, and seems to be a precursor to bigger things to come.
© 1998 by Thomas Cheung
Added to The Bujold Nexus: June 8th 1998
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