There are many books that I read once, enjoy (or not), and then never read again. Today I’m going to talk about that rare series of books that I read and reread every few years.
The book, Young Miles, by Lois McMaster Bujold is actually a compilation of the first three books in this series (not counting the prequel). This series is a set of science fiction/speculative fiction books that follow the life of a gentleman named Miles Vorkosigan. Miles grows up in a militaristic world in a political family. The books chronicle his life and experiences. For a variety of reasons (many beyond his control), he is often not able to live up to the physical and political standards that are socially expected of him and this series explores how he lives his life with this understanding. Miles (and after reading all of the books, I feel I can call him Miles) lives life with the statement “Go Big or Go Home” being an understatement.
I often don’t speak about the quality of writing in the books that I review, but I feel it is important to note that Lois McMaster Bujold has earned many awards for her writing. Through this series of books she has created an entire universe – planets of people and different species that have learned to interact with each other. I can close my eyes and imagine the universe that she has created.
While I love her ability to write, I am far more impressed by the commentary on American society that she is providing through her writing. While her character is a man, the feminist in me loves Miles Vorkosigan. The books are constantly questioning the importance that our current society places on brute strength and asking why intelligence is not more highly favored. Why is height and uniformity in our looks applauded while difference is shunned and made to feel less-than? What is the role of the military in our society? When is power a good thing and where is the line where that power turns abusive?
Bujold writes characters with depth. I find myself loving Miles Vorkosigan but wanting desperately to shake him as I am reading each book because his thoughts or his actions are worthy of my wanting to shake him. He is raw and he is real. He makes mistakes, he tries to cover those mistakes up. He makes grand gestures of love and isn’t always rewarded as he or I wish he would be. The world in which he lives feels tangible and is often equally as maddening as I just described Miles to be.
Bujold’s writing always entertains, always makes me think, often makes me laugh, and sometimes it makes me cry. The knowledge and/or entertainment that I received from the first read through is not what I get from a second or third reading. Hence the reason that I can read and reread this series with pleasure and excitement.