HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Warrior’s Apprentice
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Publisher: Baen, republished in 2016
Related website: http://www.baen.com (publisher)
Language level: 5
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Supposed to be for “young adult,” but I’d say adults only
Rating: ** 2 stars (POOR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Bujold, Lois McMaster. The Warrior’s Apprentice (published in 1986 by Baen Books, an imprint of Baen Publishing Enterprises, P. O. Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471). Seventeen-year-old Miles Vorkosigan lives on the planet Barrayar, where his father, Admiral Lord Aral Vorkosigan, is former Lord Regent commander of the armed forces and now Prime Minister under Emperor Gregor Vorbarra. Suffering birth defects, such as being only just under five feet tall and having brittle bones due to a gas attack on his Betan mother while she was pregnant with him during an assassination attempt on his father, Miles breaks both legs running an obstacle course and is discharged from the Barrarayan academy, ruining his chances of a military career. While taking a vacation with his bodyguard Bothari and Bothari’s daughter Elena, on Beta Colony where he visits his grandmother, he obtains an obsolete jumpship, a pilot, and a contract to smuggle guns to a beleaguered government involved in an interplanetary war. Through brilliant improvisation, sheer audacity, and luck, he eventually establishes a new identity for himself as a commander after acquiring a mercenary force that expands to a fleet of treasonous proportions, which itself is a capital offense on his planet.
The unexpected arrival of his cousin Ivan Vorpatril raises Miles’ suspicions, and he hastens home with Ivan to foil a plot against his father. Will they make it back in time? How should they proceed? And what will happen to Miles when they get there? I don’t remember now who recommended this book to me. It is actually the second published book in author Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, a series of science fiction novels and short stories set in a common fictional universe. The first of these, Shards of Honor, was published in 1986 and tells how Miles’ mother, Captain Cordelia Naismith of Beta Colony, meets and eventually falls in love with Captain Lord Aral Vorkosigan of Barrayar when they are both stranded on an uninhabited planet. However, The Warrior’s Apprentice, the first in which Miles appears, is the fifth story, including novellas, in the internal chronology of the series. If one likes fast-paced science fiction novels about outer space, there is an interesting plot here. Unfortunately, numerous instances of drinking alcohol, mentions of drug use, and graphic descriptions of violence appear.
Also, the language is quite bad, with profuse cursing (the “d” and “h” words), profanity (using God’s name in vain), and even vulgarity (including the “s” word). And while no actual sex occurs, a large amount of sexuality is found, with references to abortion, necking, sex aids, a girl’s hymen, watching pornography, rape, “feeling up,” chopping off a guy’s balls, the illicit sex trade, and such like. Early on Miles and Elena, on whom he has a crush, are alone, and he feels a tightness in his trousers, hoping she wouldn’t notice. Also Miles has a reminiscence of “a short affair with a girl from the kinky/curious category” in which “after finding his sexual parts disappointingly normal, the girl had drifted off.” Certain Betans are referred to as hermaphrodites, and other books in the series focus on Ethan of Athos, a homosexual man. And I learned a new word. Cousin Ivan is said to be “swiving the servant girls.” I admit that I had to look it up. Swiving means “the act or process of copulation,” from an archaic verb swive, meaning “to have sexual intercourse with (a person).” If this kind of thing floats your boat, you can have it, but I can’t recommend it, especially for “young adult” and most especially those who wish to maintain purity of mind.