Captain Vorpatril's Alliance - Lois McMaster Bujold I’m disappointed. I love Bujold. Her Vorkosigan saga is my favorite SciFi series, and Miles is one of my favorite heroes. Inevitably, I looked forward to seeing Ivan, Miles’s cousin and sidekick, as the protagonist of this novel. Unfortunately, he didn’t come up to scratch.

The first third of the story was great. It took place on Komarr, where Ivan and his new girl Tej got into one trouble after another. The pace of their misadventures was so fast, and the hassles so inventive, I could hardly breathe. It was an absolute pleasure to read. I laughed at the characters’ witty dialog and admired Bujold’s inexhaustible imagination.
In that first and best part of the novel, Ivan showed himself a competent fellow, brave and creative, able to extract Tej from all the calamities that seemed to dog her. I knew it! I knew he was better than he wanted anyone to guess.
The tension mounted rapidly, but Ivan never lost his composure. When the Komarr police were after him, and the Immigration Security arrived to arrest Tej, Ivan’s ingenuity saved the day. He married Tej in a lightning-quick ceremony and thus solved all their Komarr-based problems.
Then the newly-wed flew to Barrayar; and the tale lost its momentum. The Barrayaran part of the novel was still full of humor and absurdity, but both protagonists inexplicably stopped acting. Worse, especially for a SciFi story – the antagonists disappeared, never to be seen again. The danger dissolved. The adventures petered out. And their relationship, which was developing fast before, now swayed in limbo.
Both Ivan and Tej still reacted… sometimes… to the other characters’ actions. And sometimes they didn’t react at all, just bemoaned their helplessness. While everyone else – from Ivan's mother to Tej’s enterprising family, to a new bad guy – got a say in the way the novel progressed, Ivan and Tej stood on the sidelines, paralyzed by indecision. Even the final confrontation was solved by someone else, while Ivan and Tej cuddled together, promising undying love to each other, until they were rescued.
I kept reading and waiting for Ivan to take the reins into his capable hands and prove his ability to be a hero, but it never happened, as if he couldn’t sustain a novel by himself. Of course, I was happy to meet my old friends from the previous Barrayar books, but when they took over the story, together with a bunch of Tej’s ambitious relatives, it seemed that the author got tired of captaining the tale and let it meander rudderless anywhere it wanted.
My last objection: the epilogue was redundant. All the problems have already been solved, all the lose ends tied, so this chunk of text seemed a useless appendix. It took place on a tropical island: nice, sunny, and pointless.

I can’t give this book less than 4 stars, because the writing was as good as I’ve come to expect from this author, and the humor was delightful. But the plot sucked.