The Flowers of Vashnoi, by Lois McMaster Bujold

>> Saturday, August 11, 2018

TITLE: The Flowers of Vashnoi
AUTHOR: Lois McMaster Bujold

PUBLISHER: Self-published

SETTING: Barrayar
TYPE: Science Fiction
SERIES: Part of the Vorkosigan series (comes after Captain Vorpatril's Alliance)

Still new to her duties as Lady Vorkosigan, Ekaterin is working together with expatriate scientist Enrique Borgos on a radical scheme to recover the lands of the Vashnoi exclusion zone, lingering radioactive legacy of the Cetagandan invasion of the planet Barrayar. When Enrique’s experimental bioengineered creatures go missing, the pair discover that the zone still conceals deadly old secrets.
I completely missed this novella coming out! I only found out about it last week, and of course, I downloaded it immediately and gulped it down that very evening.

The Flowers of Vashnoi takes place not long after Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, but plotwise, it's a bit of a continuation of a particular element in A Civil Campaign. Yep, Enrique Borgos and his butterbugs strike again! He and Ekaterin have been working together in a project to use a modified version to recover some of the still-radioactive lands in Vorkosigan Vashnoi. They're at the stage where they're running a pilot project in a small patch in the middle of the forest, when they realise that some of the bugs are going missing. And their investigation turns up some very old secrets.

The story reminded me a bit about the Mountains of Mourning in that we explore the effects the attempted Cetagandan invasion of many decades earlier still has on the backwaters of the Vorkosigan's territories -both physically and psychologically. It's heartbreaking and touching and beautifully told. There's some very intriguing characters who are introduced here, and I wanted to know more about them and see what would happen to them.

Most of the story here focuses on Ekaterin, with Miles playing a bit of a supporting role. Much as I love him, I was perfectly fine with this, because Ekaterin is fab. They are very much themselves here, by which I mean they're determined to see justice done, not the letter of the law, but the spirit. I may have devoured the story in one gulp, but it did leave an aftertaste that had me thinking about the issues it raised for a while longer.



Marianne McA,  11 August 2018 at 18:59  

I've been enjoying the Penric novellas, but it was fun to get a Vorkosigan one for a change. I think Bujold's good at novellas: I never feel shortchanged by her.

Rosario 12 August 2018 at 06:19  

I've been trying to save the Penric novellas (have read only the first 2 so far -will probably post a review of the first one in the next few days), but I couldn't wait with this one! Much as I love all her other series, it's not quite as much as the Vorkosigans!

And yes, she really has a knack for writing good novellas. Too many authors try to do too much in them. She gets them exactly right.

Fernande,  15 August 2018 at 12:37  

I enjoyed this novella as well. Ekaterin and Miles are wonderful characters and even though Ekaterin is the central character in this one, I really like catching these glimpses of the more mature, less manic Miles, happy in his marriage and family.
Sadly, I haven't really been engaged by the Penric series, but I'll look forward to seeing your review, Rosario, to see what I'm perhaps missing as I read them.

Rosario 19 August 2018 at 07:51  

Fernande: It was like a quick visit with good friends, and that's always nice. I must say, though, I'm ready for another full-length LMB. I don't mind what series (existing or a new one), but I would love something I can really sink my teeth into!

Bona Caballero 31 August 2018 at 11:20  

Thank you for this review! I didn't know about this novella, either. I'd like to read it but my feelings are mixed. On the one hand, I really hated everything about those repulsive butterbugs but, on the other hand, I really loved Mountains of mourning, so, I guess I'll read it in the future, but not inmediately.

Rosario 8 September 2018 at 05:54  

Bona: Ah, but Enrique has improved the butterbugs immensely. They're now so cute! ;-)

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