Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sometimes there's that one brilliant author who can break all the damn rules and get away with it.
Yeah. I'm talking about Lois Bujold.
I tried putting this novel into a mould to judge it by any other type of story and I just can't do it. Sure, I could just reduce it by saying it's a love story, but that's like saying the events of Aral and Cordelia's courtship is just an SF love story, and it's so much richer and deep and full of nostalgia than that. It's saying that Miles and Ekaterina was just some fly-by-night romance, and to say that is to talk complete shit.
No, this happens to have the trappings of all the immense story and love and history of this universe, but it is also something so much grander than just that.
It's about love. It's about finding happiness. It's about starting again.
It's also about laughing at the fact that burning marshmallows being flung at stupid men by their women is actually a valid socializing tool. Don't let anyone tell you differently.
I was deeply charmed and brought to near tears five or six times while reading this. It's probably just my vast investment in the universe, or perhaps it's the little sparks of memory and reminiscence and the signs of life from all those wonderful, wonderful, wonderful characters I've grown up with. Yeah, Miles is here, too, but he plays another supporting role again, to great and sneaky effect.
What this novel does not have is intrigue beyond a very personal (for Naismith and Jole) nature. There is no grand plot beyond what Cordelia had in mind. And yet, I was charmed more than I could believe.
Was this a feel-good book? Did it break all conventions and refuse to force any kind of strained conflict? Yes, yes it did. It was natural and featured choices ranging between good and equally good and forced us to follow along and find out what we truly wanted, too.
If you are a parent, you'll get an absolute ton of significance from this novel. If you aren't, but you've followed this series this far, then I'm sure you have enough empathy to fake it. :)
I loved this novel. I was back with my family. I was back with all my loved ones. I feel loved. :)
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