Swing by the official Tor blogs when you get a chance, because novelist Jo Walton has been writing a series of posts on Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series. The post on Memory is especially worth reading. It really expresses a lot of my own feelings toward that book. An excerpt:
Memory (1998) is in my opinion the worst place to start the Vorkosigan saga, because it is a sequel to all the books that have gone before it. I know that by saying this I’ll be prompting several people who started with it to say that no, it absolutely hooked them, but even so, I think you will get more out of Memory if you come to it with knowledge of the earlier books, and the most if you come to it with all of the earlier books fresh in your mind. It contains some very sharp spear points on some very long spears. Memory was nominated for a Hugo but did not win, and I suspect that might have been partly because it is so very much a sequel.
(If you don’t get the reference to spear points, also read this post by Walton.)
I have heard that some readers don’t like Memory because it represents such a break from the nonstop action/adventure of the earlier books. Like Walton, I fall in the opposite camp; I believe its radical departure from the established formula is exactly what that series needed. It’s a shame but sort of inevitable that it doesn’t work as a starting point–as Walton says, it’s very much a sequel. Still, it’s the main reason I encourage readers who like but don’t quite love the early Miles books to stick with the series. It’s easily my favorite of all of Bujold’s work to date.
A question for those of my readers who are familiar with this series: Do you agree with Walton? And what do you normally recommend as a Vorkosigan series starting place?