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Michael Hanson

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Title: Brothers in Arms
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Narrator: Michael Hanson
Year: 1989

Brothers in Arms is the story about how Miles Vorkosigan (the main character in many of McMaster Bujold’s books) runs into trouble trying to be two persons at the same time, one the admiral of a freelancing fleet of mercenaries and the other a lord of Barrayar. To cover the potentially dangerous revelation of the fact that the two are one and the same person, he invents an explanation of the existence of a clone. The only problem is that the fabrication turns out to be true, and with a clone in the centre of a plot to overturn the government of Barrayar, the novel gathers momentum.

Having previously read three books by the author (The Vor Game, Barrayar and Paladin of Souls), I think Brothers in Arms is the weakest link in the chain so far. It is written before The Vor Game, but takes place after the events of that most impressive novel. The strength of the books about Miles is his character and the often ingenious plots, combined with fast-paced and witty action. Sadly, Brothers in Arms simply does not reach the same level as The Vor Game. Some of the brilliance glimpsed in the latter novel can still be sensed, but not at all in the same abundance.

I still think the novel is worthwhile, though, since the author is competent and is skilled enough to compose a thrilling story. However, in order for a thrilling story to be enough, it has to be almost perfect and that is not the case here. Striving to clear all Hugo Award winners, I will go on reading Mirror Dance, which is a sequel to Brothers in Arms and earned the 1995 award. Hopefully, there is a reason as to why the former received the Hugo, whereas the latter did not.

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