Sunday, October 14, 2018

Review: Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold

Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Published: Baen, 1994
Series: Book 9 of the Vorkosigan Saga (chronologically)
Awards Won: Hugo and Locus SF Awards

The Book:

“Miles met his clone--a young man raised by rebels to murder and replace him--in Brothers in Arms. Miles insisted that the clone was legally his younger brother, and thus entitled to the name ‘Mark Vorkogian’, but the abused and indoctrinated young man ultimately fled him in distrust.

Some time later, Mark is struggling to come to terms with his past in the cloning creches of Jackson’s Whole.  While his upbringing was a nightmare, it was less horrible than the fate that met all of his childhood friends.  They were raised as bodies to grant immortality to the rich, and their brains were simply discarded at maturity. This is still happening, day after day, and it is a horror that no one is taking any action to stop.  

Mark can do nothing alone, but he knows his well-connected “brother” Miles has a mercenary fleet.  He still believes Miles can’t be trusted... but he was raised to impersonate him. Mark may not have Miles’s strategic ability or experience, but he’s determined to succeed or die trying.” ~Allie  

This is the next book I read via audiobook with my husband.  I think it was pretty accessible, even though my husband had not read any of the other books in the series.  I’d recommend reading Brothers in Arms, first, though, so that you would already know Mark the clone and the details of Miles’s own double identity.

My Review: 3/5

I’m glad that this book forced Miles and his company to do something about Jackson’s Whole, because the whole cloning-immortality setup there was awful.  I get that the hero can’t fix everything about the universe, but I could really sympathize with Mark’s desire to try to address at least this one thing. It was also interesting to read a story featuring Mark and Miles as side-by-side protagonists. They both had such unique voices and personalities, despite the similarities they share.  I’m also glad Mark had a chance to develop his own identity, separate from the idea of being a copy of Miles.

My main reservations about recommending this novel are that it has uneven pacing and potentially disturbing content. The story has a slow start, becomes very intense during the rescue operations on Jackson’s Whole, slows down dramatically as the action moves to Barrayar, and then picks up again later.  The segment on Barrayar was nice as an interlude to show continuing readers what all the minor characters have been up to, but it felt unnecessarily long when considering this novel in isolation. The disturbing content includes torture and sexual assault, and portrayals of intersexual characters and overweight characters that may not be as well received now as they probably were back when it was originally published.
Altogether, I am still enjoying reading the continuing adventures of Miles Vorkosigan and, this time, his brother Mark.  At its high points, the story was exciting, nerve-wracking and occasionally pretty funny. At its low points, the story slows down tremendously to reintroduce minor characters from other Vorkosigan novels. This is not my favorite of the series, but I’m still excited to continue reading about Miles’s adventures!

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