Tien had protected her proudly, she reflected, in the little Vor-lady fortress of her household. Tien had spent a decade protecting her so hard, especially from anything that resembled growth, she’d felt scarcely larger at thirty than she’d been at twenty.On one level, Komarr, Book 11 in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, is a science fiction mystery. On another level, it is a story about the transformation of Ekaterin Vorsoisson, wife to head of terraforming Tien Vorsoisson, mother to nine year old Nikki, niece to Imperial auditor Professor Vorthys.
Barrayaran Imperial auditors Miles Vorkosigan and Professor Vorthys are sent to Komarr to investigate the destruction of a soletta array (mirrors used in terraforming to focus the sun’s rays) and an ore spaceship. Is it an accident, sabotage, or something even worse? The auditors stay with Vorthys’ niece Ekaterin and her husband Tien. Miles is promptly smitten with the niece. He does not realize that she is dealing with an abusive husband who has a debilitating genetic disorder and a son who also carries the disease. What begins as a boring investigation takes some unexpected twists and turns.
I know I keep repeating myself, but Lois McMaster Bujold is a good storyteller, and this is another good story. Bujold helps the reader to understand Ekaterin, who will continue to be an important character in the later Vorkosigan Saga books. The love smitten Miles is absolutely darling. Bujold takes on the issues of disability, genetic disorders, prejudice, and women’s rights & roles. Compared to other books in the Vorkosigan Saga, Komarr does not have as much adventure and defying of authority. The variation in plot styles from book to book helps keep the Saga interesting.