Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is the latest book we’ve read in our Vorkosigan Saga Project. For the first time we get to focus on Ivan, Miles’s cousin. Chronologically, this story takes place after Diplomatic Immunity and, for all that Ivan frequently appears in Miles’s stories, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance contains very little Miles…
You can read Tsana’s review of Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance here, and Katharine’s review here.
Katharine: Wooo Ivan! (That is the tl;dr of my review.)
Tsana: In which we learn that Ivan is quite capable of having strange things happen to him even when Miles is safely on another planet. Despite what we’ve seen in snakes?earlier books, it’s not all Miles’s fault.
Katharine: And when it does happen, he’s quite adept at coming up with suitable scenarios and resources for saving the day. All while being quite considerate, too. Line right up for your Ivan fan club badge, people!
Tsana: When what does happen?
Katharine: Strange things. Such as By appearing from nowhere and asking Ivan to keep an eye on a woman who seems to have some trouble after her.
They’re out on Komarr – neither Miles or Ivan are on Barrayar – with Captain Ivan Vorpatril playing secretary to an admiral. Cousin By who we met in A Civil Campaign appears out of nowhere and doesn’t leave much information at all… which is probably why Ivan quickly winds up being tied to a chair and foiling an attempted kidnaping. Which is one way to win the trust of the woman he’s been asked to protect, at least…
Tsana: It’s a continuation of the general trend of “no one ever tells Ivan anything”. But the absence of anyone to hide behind does bring out the best in Ivan and shows the reader just how competent he really is, despite trying to hide it and not draw attention to himself. In the earlier books we got glimpses suggesting that there was more to Ivan than just “that idiot”, but now we really get a chance to see it.
Katharine: Such as being able to run on very little sleep, handle questioning from local authorities, and sure, he may seem to ‘just’ be a secretary however doing such a job well shows just how much intuition and greater understanding of everything as a whole is needed in order to keep your boss afloat. We often see Ivan referring to snakes, as in, what does the admiral need to see sooner rather than later – something his eventual replacement doesn’t seem to get right at all. But now I’m really jumping too far ahead.
Tsana: We see Ivan being good at his job, which doesn’t contradict anything we’ve seen earlier but which also isn’t something we’ve witnessed either way. His job was always relatively peripheral to Miles’s stories. Ivan’s General likes him and that puts Ivan in quite a senior position, even though he is still only a captain. And Ops is also not the same can of worms/snakes as the ImpSec we have frequently seen through the eyes of the other characters (and continue to see in this book).
Katharine: Ivan got promoted before Miles did, didn’t he? Way back when Miles was ‘just a courier?’
Tsana: Yep. Miles was very jealous and got himself retrospectively captain-ed during/despite his medical discharge.
Katharine: Thankfully they’ve both matured quite a bit since then. So, the woman By has asked Ivan to keep an eye on is a woman called Tej. Who happens to have a hidden half-sister, Rish. Hidden because she’s bright blue and stands out quite a bit. Half-sister because they’re from Jackson’s Whole. Tsana, care to explain their family (I certainly don’t really understand the older members very well), and why they’re on the run?
Tsana: It does get a bit complicated, doesn’t it? I think if I’m going to explain it all in detail, we have to put the spoiler shields up.