I read this soon after 'Borders of Infinity' and re-reading 'The Warrior's Apprentice' (as you can tell, my interest in Bujold's books has undergone a sudden rise), they both come before this book within the universe's chronology, and are worth reading first as they explain where the characters come from and the unusual situation they are in. There must be one or two books between this and Borders... but I found this did not quell my enjoyment at all, and there seemed to be no major spoilers hidden within the book that will spoil my reading of the others, when I get hold of them.
Brothers In Arms takes place soon after the break out at the POW camp on Dagoola (VI?) as seen in Borders..., it deals with the ongoing problems this has caused Miles Vorkosigan/Naismith and his mercenaries as there are assasins out looking for Miles.
The book takes place on Earth, with the Dendarii Mecenaries stopping off for repairs and looking for the payment of the Dagoola break-out. Miles has to keep up with both his personalities: Admiral Naismith of the mecenaries and Lieutenant Vorkosigan, the son of the Barrayar Prime Minister, while under orders from the Barrayar military, and trying to stop anyone linking his two personalities together into one person and discovering the Naismith character is just a front. This becomes difficult as he has to appear as both people within the same city on Earth, and is even commisioned to kidnap himself!
On-running throughout the book is the theme of his splitting personailities, that the Naismith and Vorkosigan parts of him are becoming separate personas, with him having to swap between and not being able to work out his loyalties: to his homeworld or his mercenaries? This is extenuated by an irritating commanding officer, and cash-flow problems on a major scale for the mercenaries.
The book sees Miles grow closer to his bodyguard, Elli Quinn (who first appeared in Warrior's Apprentice) and delves deeper into his personality, and a sudden crisis bought about by the appearence of a doppelganger, but can he change the situation to his advantage? Well, I'm not going to tell you everything. If you have all ready read some Bujold and like her style then this is a good book to read. If you are thinking of reading some Bujold I suggest either at least The Warrior's Apprentice first, it will give a good background on how the mercenaries came about and who Miles is.
Review by Paul Silver, May 1993
© SF Bookshelf 2004 - 2021