I’m listening (once again) through my audiobooks of the Vorkosigan saga and decided (finally) to write a review of them. It’s really a shame that the two prequels to the series, Shards of Honor and Barrayar, aren’t available on audio. Warrior’s Apprentice is also the first book in the collected edition of Young Miles.

The Warrior’s Apprentice is the first book to feature Bujold’s perhaps the most famous main character: the ever-energetic Miles Vorkosigan. He was subjected to a deadly toxin while still in his mother’s womb and because of that he’s very short and has very brittle bones. Yet, he’s a very charming and engaging character especially because he comes from the culture from the planet Barrayar which is very dedicated to the military service and health. Many view Miles as a mutant and spit on him (some quite literally). Miles is also the only son and heir of the second most powerful man on the planet (after Emperor Gregor) which makes his deformities very visible. Miles wants very badly to live up to his father’s reputation as a both military and political genius.

So, despite his physical handicaps Miles has determined to get into the Barrayaran Imperial Military Service. He has passed all of the written exams with flying colors and the only thing left is the physical exam. If he can at least complete it, he’s going to be a new cadet. Unfortunately, he lets the other candidate’s taunting get to him and ends up breaking both of his legs in the obstacle course. After a sever bout of depression, he has to think of something else to do with his life.

Shortly afterwards, his grandfather dies and during the funeral Miles gets the idea that he should stop being an embarrassment to his father (as Miles himself sees it), at least for a while and leave the planet to see his mother’s mother on Beta Colony. He should take, of course, his scary, border-line psychopathic but unwaveringly loyal bodyguard Bothari with him. Miles also insists on taking Bothari’s 17-years old daughter Elena who is Miles’ good friend and the object of his day dreams. Bothari has planned out his daughter’s life for her: a dowry, a respectable marriage with a military man… Miles rather disagrees with that.

Soon enough they land in Beta Colony where Miles promptly rescues an intoxicated pilot and ends up buying the pilot’s star ship. Unfortunately for Miles, he doesn’t have that much money but manages to scam long enough. In order to actually buy off the ship, he takes up a valuable cargo into his new ship and blasts off just before the outraged former owner can press charges. Unfortunately, the cargo is valuable because it has to be delivered into a war zone. Miles’ biggest problem is the mercenary fleet which is blockading the wormhole his ship has to jump through.

Warrior’s Apprentice is a very fast-paced space opera. While is does have it’s own share of technology, such as space ships which jump routinely through wormholes, it concentrated on the more human side of things: characters, their interaction, culture clashes… The tech isn’t the main point and the book is very much character centered instead of plot or setting centered. While Miles, as the only point-of-view character, hogs the center stage most of the time, the other characters are very interesting as well. Sergeant Bothari with his life-long traumas (which the readers of the prequels know about far better than Miles) and his obsession to make his daughter the quintessential Barrayaran maiden. Elena who wants to please his father but also to have a life of her own. And many others. Some of them will become recurring characters in the later books and acquire more depth and history.