The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold

Warrior's Apprentice 003. The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold
Publication: Baen (July 1, 2003), ebook, 377pp / ISBN 0743436164
Series: Vorkosigan Saga #3
Genre: YA Sci-fi

Read: January 3-4, 2013
Source: Freebie from publisher (Nov. 2010)
Reading Challenge: Why Buy the Cow? (4/50)

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Summary from the publisher:

Being a Vor lord on the war-torn planet Barrayar wasn’t easy. Being an officer in Barrayar’s military wasn’t easy. And being the leader of a force of spaceborne mercenaries while maintaining a secret identity wasn’t easy—in fact it should have been impossible, to say nothing of being a capital offense on Barrayar. Not that impossibility or great danger would slow down young Miles Vorkosigan much.

Washed out of the Barrayaran Military Academy for being overly fragile (he had been biochemically damaged during an assassination attempt while still in his mother’s womb), Miles’s natural (if unorthodox) leadership qualities quickly led to his off-handedly acquiring a fleet of nineteen ships and three thousand troops, all unswervingly loyal to him—or at least to his alter ego, Admiral Naismith. (snipped)

My Review

The Warrior’s Apprentice is a very different kind of story from Shards of Honor and Barrayar. With those two books, Cordelia (and Aral) are middle-aged grown-ups. They’ve done their [hero’s journey thing], they’ve lived a decent amount of life already, and their story is more about adjusting to each other and romance and maintaining authority over the planet’s government and so on. The Warrior Apprentice, on the other hand, is a coming-of-age story. Or rather, it’s PART of a coming-of-age story. It’s like the first step into a coming-of-age story, rather than the usual leap that you see nowadays in most YA books.1

Lois McMaster Bujold
the author

YA books tend to focus on stumbling towards adulthood and puppy love with ocassional kicking of demonic butt. That’s what happened in The Warrior’s Apprentice, only with sci-fi and explosions instead of demons. I was thrown off a little by the shift from adult dealings to young adult dealings, though looking back at it I don’t know WHY I was thrown off. I mean, Miles is a teenager in this book. I suppose I was expecting it to be more “adult” than “YA”?2

Anyway, I really liked the way certain plotlines were handled in The Warrior’s Apprentice. For example, the romance subplot between Miles and Elena. No spoilers (just in case), but in almost any other (newer) YA book I KNOW the romance would have gone a different way, or it’d have been drawn out for another two books and probably a love triangle would’ve been thrown in just to annoy me even more. But The Warrior’s Apprentice didn’t do any of that! Yay! Elena had MAJOR character development, told hold of her own destiny, and became way more interesting to me than she was in the beginning of the story. By the end she was no longer just Elena, the girl Miles had a crush on. She was her own person. Huzzah!

Miles, meanwhile, still has a long way to go towards becoming an adult. Since he’s in like a million more books I assume his own character development will take significantly longer than Elena did, but I almost don’t mind that. There were hints of Miles’ future character development in the short story that was packaged with my edition.3 He’s still a kid, but it’s been a few years since the events in The Warrior’s Apprentice and he’s definitely grown up a bit. Huzzah again!

Right now I’m going to take a break from the saga just so I don’t get tired of it too soon, but I’m looking forward to reading the next book in February. It’s got Miles and the mercenaries again, and I’ll no doubt love it.

My Rating

I liked it a lot!


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Other reviews

Fyrefly’s Book Blog: “Miles Vorkosigan is certainly an interesting character – which is good, considering he’s the focus of many more books after this one. Does he replace Cordelia (Miles’s mother, and the heroine of Shards of Honor and Barrayar, the preceeding two books) at the top of my Bujold-ian Fictional Character Crush List? No, not quite, but that’s a tall bar to clear. I enjoyed watching Cordelia deal with the deeply ingrained Barrayaran sexism more than I enjoyed watching Miles deal with the deeply ingrained Barrayaran disability-ism, but that may be because as a non-disabled woman, I found her plight more immediately recognizable than his.”

Drying Ink: “While the plot is interesting and – occasionally – thoughtful, at its heart, it’s just an arena for Miles – the main focus of the novel. I’ve mentioned it was character driven, and Miles is definitely a driving character: manic-depressive, likeable, and somewhat of a genius, the reactions he inspires in others are likewise hilarious.”

Reading Is Good For You: “I will say it seemed highly improbable at times that a seventeen year old boy with no training in military tactics could dream up the feats in battle that Miles did and still manage to come out ahead every time, but the story was a pleasing enough one and I found myself invested in the characters enough that I was willing to suspend my disbelief a bit. I was glad, though, that there were consequences for his actions — Miles himself and many under him don’t come through these ordeals unscathed, so the story is able to retain an air of believability.”

More reviews can be found here, at the Book Blogs Search Engine.

Some Notes

The author’s photo comes from Goodreads. It’s not mine! Book cover comes from Amazon. It’s not mine, either.


  1. Maybe because there’s so many books in this series, LMB took it kinda slow? Not sure. Haven’t read the behind the scenes book yet.
  2. Lately I’ve been a little tired of most YA books BECAUSE they focus on “high school” stuff, which I’ve finally gotten bored of, so I’ve been trying to reading either younger or older-focused books. Just for something different! I’ll get back to YA eventually, no worries.
  3. it’s an omnibus, with The Vor Game being the second book

2 thoughts on “The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold”

  1. I don’t know that I read it as a coming of age story at the time, although of course it is. But in hindsight, LMB does do things more slowly than most novels, but that means that the character growth actually happens at a more realistic rate, instead of going from 0 to 60 (or, rather, from 17 to 30?) in the space of a few months of story time. Miles definitely keeps growing up as the stories go on. Is the short story “The Mountains of Mourning”? I really liked that one, especially since I didn’t read it until I’d read a fair number of the later books, so it was actually nice to go back and see Miles as a kid again.

    Also: yay! I’m so glad you’re reading (and liking!) this series! The more people hooked, the better. 🙂 Although it’s really making me want to go back and re-read…

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