Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Review/Reflections: Memory

Since tpau suggested it, some thoughts.

Memory is one of the middle books in the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold. It's arguably the most famous of the series, and having just gotten to it, I can see why.

I don't know exactly what happens next, but Memory clearly marks a sea change in the story. The previous books have mostly been rollicking adventures -- even when they were dark, they still had a sort of shiny brightness, as a young Miles makes his way through various dangers. Indeed, "adventure" seems the best way to describe them as a whole.

Memory is different. It is quieter, more internal, more melancholy. It is telling that it has a bit of sequel to the short story, The Mountains of Mourning, because it is more like that story than like anything else so far. Both are stories about Miles' "secret identity" of Lord Vorkosigan, rather than the larger-than-life public persona of Admiral Naismith. Almost every story in this series is about identity on some level, but these ones are somehow a little more honest than most.

It is also, in many respects, exactly the book I needed right now. In a way, I'm glad I had not read it previously, because it counterpoints my own current internal arguments so effectively that it provides an odd catharsis. Wrestling with my own depressions, which are deeply entwined in questions of who I am and what I want, it's interesting to see the directions taken by a character I have occasionally been compared to. In my more Minbari (or Jaggeresque) moments, I often say that the universe gives us what we need, if not what we want, provided we have the wit to pay attention. The resonance here is strong; I'll have to chew on what messages are worth taking from it.

Damned good book. Some people maintain that it is the best, while others disagree, and I'm not surprised by either. I suspect it depends on what you prefer to get from this series. This is definitely not the most fun Miles book, and it didn't completely keep me guessing. But I found the psychological story very compelling...

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