Cetaganda doesn't have the manic energy of The Warrior's Apprentice, which retains top spot as my favourite Vorkosigan book so far. It lacks that pell-mell, out-of-control sense of urgency that I absolutely fell in love with. But it is still a solid entry into the series, and Miles remains an incredibly appealing character to read about.
Miles and his nice but a little dim cousin Ivan are sent to Cetaganda
to attend a major ritual as part of ongoing diplomatic efforts (after,
you know, Miles thwarted the Cetagandan invasion in a previous book).
The Empress has died, and her funeral is a big deal on this highly
stratified world of genetically-altered haut nobles, ambitious ghem
courtiers, and a large underclass. (Actually, we don't hear much about
the underclass, just the haut and the ghem.)
But when Miles is
met at the airlock by a servant to the former Empress and is left with a
strange artifact, and then that same servant shows up dead beside the
Empress' coffin, something is definitely afoot.
is awash with conspiracies, and Miles is thrown in at the deep end. He
becomes embroiled in the machinations of a bunch of haut women, who are
rarely seen outside their opaque bubbles, but who may control more than
initially meets the eye.
This is fun, but I felt too certain
from the beginning that Miles would come through unscathed. Some of the
first events seem like they should spark repercussions, but really
don't. And in a world where genetic engineering is everything, I would
have liked those themes to be explored in a little more depth.
this is fun, it ultimately feels a little slight. Too little urgency,
too little danger, too little exploration of deeper themes. But still,
if you are looking for a good mystery where the detective is baffled up
to his neck, this does fit the bill.