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Publisher's Summary

Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan returns to the planet that changed her destiny in a new novel by multiple New York Times best-selling author Lois McMaster Bujold.

Future imperfect: Three years after her famous husband's death, Cordelia Vorkosigan, widowed vicereine of Sergyar, stands ready to spin her life in a new direction. Oliver Jole, admiral, Sergyar Fleet, finds himself caught up in her web of plans in ways he'd never imagined, bringing him to an unexpected crossroads in his life. Meanwhile, Miles Vorkosigan, one of Emperor Gregor's key investigators, this time dispatches himself on a mission of inquiry into a mystery he never anticipated - his own mother.

Plans, wills, and expectations collide in this sparkling science fiction social comedy as the impact of galactic technology on the range of the possible changes all the old rules, and Miles learns that not only is the future not what he expects - neither is the past.

©2015 Lois McMaster Bujold (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

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Shoukd be removed from the canon

Will most likely be removed from the canon in a future Vor Kosigan religion.

Although as always, narrated brilliantly, and lois deserves endless thanks for her previous work.

but no.

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  • Susan
  • 22-07-2016

Only for Cordelia fans and, even then, be warned.

Where is her editor?

No plot, no conflict, minimal tension (either emotionally or romantically), and she creates events that happened decades before in the series that go against the characters' natures. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen, some difficulty for the characters to overcome. There isn't even any romance tension, which could have saved the book. According to the story, they're basically just re-kindling a relationship, so there's no 'falling in love' process and no wondering if/when they'll declare their love and consummate the relationship. There's mild tension where the hero has to decide to whether to accept a long distance job, but there's no crisis or anything.

There were points where I thought an exciting plot was about to start, but she never took the story in any of those possible directions. It's frustrating to know it could've been so good that it makes your disappointment so much worse.

Someone said she's ending her series and tying up loose ends, which is a good idea as the plots and writing have been going downhill. As someone said, this makes a nice, but boring, epilogue. It should not have been a stand alone book.

I would only read it if you're a Cordelia fan, which I am; so I continued listening all the way to its tedious end. But I would recommend buying a used paperbook, not an audiobook.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Thomas W. Gleason
  • 31-01-2018

A Flop.. READ the REST of the Series NOT THIS ONE

Lois is one of my favorite SciFi writers. I have absolutely loved all of her other books in this series. They are full of delightful characters, good plots, humor and philosophical insight applicable to living life today, as well as sound speculation on what life could be like if certain science is realized in the future.

Sadly, this book is a flop. Its plot is uninteresting, not much at all happens. It is a poorly executed romance and nothing more, not at all up to par with the rest of the series.

Read ALL the REST of the series. They are truly a treat. But don't read this one, it will leave a bad taste in the mouth.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Don Gilbert
  • 04-02-2016

Back to Barrayar

After more than four years, since Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Grover Gardner again brings the Vorkosigan saga to life and back to Barrayar in the latest story “Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.”
I personally began my adventure with this series starting with the “Warriors Apprentice,” and couldn’t get enough of Miles. Brittle boned, slight of build, and always over-matched physically in a world that prided itself on strength, he wass usually able to overcome all obstacles with his keen intelligent and equally sharp and witty wit. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every audible book in this series that Louis McMaster Bujold has so masterfully crafted and this latest release is no exception. Some of my favorited characters are back, including Miles, but this is a Cordelia story. Throughout the series we got to know her; “Shards of Honor” and “Barrayar,” centered on her. We learned of her diverse background growing up on a technological forward thinking planet called Beta Colony that was indirect contrast with the militant hierarchical planet from which her husband came from and which they both resided called Barrayar. Now three years after the death of her famous husband, Aral Vorkosigan, Cordelia, widowed vicereine of Sergyar, is ready to begin a new direction in her life. Insightful and heartwarming, this story does not have a whole lot of action but for those who have been following this series I think you will like this addition.
Grover Gardner, as usual, gives a great performance setting the tone perfectly.

26 people found this helpful

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  • tobias
  • 01-10-2017

A very bad place to leave the serries.

This is no last adventure with Miles. No adventure at all. It is more akin to the elements of story that are often left out or glossed over for their banality and lack of interest; like when characters brush their teeth, iron clothes and get their oil changed. I am not going to finish it. I have read every book in the entire series and this does not belong in it, not even for die-hard fans. Reading this gives me the feeling of staying too long after at a party that has ended, tired empty and lacking the luster of previous hours.

It seemed an opportunity for one last great adventure, but instead is a side story about Cordelia and the late Counts mutual male lover after the counts death and literally nothing more. Two old people sad about what is gone and moving on with their lives. This could have been a trashy romance novel my mother would have read when I was a child (I could see Fabio and a red haired babe on the cover) It makes me wonder about Bujold's own life that this is what was thought might be a good end to the series... when you have been writing a series this long and people are buying every book, the story isn't yours to do this to.

VorPatrell's Alliance and Cryoburn are great places to end the series, I do not suggest wasting a credit, I am returning this.

Grover Gardner is of course amazing and though I often will read a book for no other reason than a favorite narrator this is not the case here.

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  • Trent
  • 04-02-2017

should have stopped at book 16

don't need the long dwelling on the homosexual story line found the story dry and unengaging especially for being the 17th in the series

4 people found this helpful

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  • Colin Croft
  • 06-08-2016

Disappointing

I expected a book similar to the others in the series - full of action, intrigue & humour. What I got was a badly handled & utterly boring romance between Cordelia & a new character that had no real conflict, angst or even interest. There were one or two minor characters that frankly were more interesting than the protagonists but they were never developed beyond the barest minimum. The whole thing should have been a short story or, at most, a novella. I can't see myself ever listening to this again, whereas all the other books in the series have been read & reread many times. Very annoying.

17 people found this helpful

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  • MarissaB
  • 15-03-2016

Disappointed.

LMB is one of my favorite authors. I had listened to all of Miles several times over, so I could not wait for this one to come out. Her writing style hasn't changed but I did not care for the story itself. I did not get past the first chapter.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Jefferson
  • 01-02-2018

a renewed source of gravity and light

It’s been three years since Aral Vorkosigan suddenly died. Since his death his wife Cordelia, who with Aral dragged the Barryaran Empire into the Galactic community, has been attempting to deal with her loss by fulfilling her many duties as Vicereine of Sergyar, one of three planets in the Empire. Her partner in keeping the colony of 2,000,000+ inhabitants on Sergyar functioning and thriving on the backwater still new world has been Admiral Oliver Jole, the man in charge of the space fleet. One of the early interesting developments of Lois McMaster Bujold's Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (2015), the latest entry in her long-running, intelligent, character-driven space opera Vorkosigan saga, is that Oliver was left at least as bereft as Cordelia at Aral's death, because he had been Aral’s secret lover for over twenty years.

It turns out, in fact, that Aral, Cordelia, and Jole had been living in an off-the-record three-partner marriage in all but name, Cordelia and Jole sharing the great man, and that since his death they’ve been like a pair of planets deprived of their common sun. As this novel opens, they love each other as old friends (in all their years together with Aral, Cordelia and Oliver made love to Aral separately and never to each other), but then Cordelia drops a bombshell on Oliver, impelling their relationship into a new phase. Cordelia informs him that she has ten genetic lottery tickets: six frozen zygotes (Aral’s sperm in her eggs) that she’s hoping to turn into six daughters and four frozen gametes that she’s offering to Oliver so that he might add his own Y chromosomes to Aral's X chromosomes inside Cordelia's enucleated eggs ('egg shells') so as to have, in effect, sons with Aral. Oliver, who has never married or fathered any children, is at first stunned and then attracted by the possibilities.

The novel depicts the pair's romance against the backdrop of Cordelia's attempts to move the capital of Sergyar from a terrible location next to a restlessly dormant volcano to a more sensible one despite the opposition of vested interests, and of Oliver's attempts to deal with his impending fiftieth-birthday party and a great job offer that would take him back to Barrayar. Those plot strands are complicated by the surprise visit of Cordelia and Aral’s son Miles Vorkosigan and his wife and six kids, because Miles is curious and keen (and an Imperial Auditor for whom a hint is like a stick in the hands of a boy by a wasp nest). How will Cordelia and Oliver let him know about their plans to become parents and about their new relationship and Oliver and Aral’s old one?

The story is not complicated by any of the hitherto de rigueur Vorkosigan series nefarious plots or empire threatening dangerous developments. It is a novel about love ('What is love but delight in another human being?'), transience ('While you can, take delight'), parenting ('Parents don’t make children; children make parents'), and happiness (what do Cordelia and Oliver want to do after retirement?). This is all fine, because Bujold's characters and world are so appealing and her writing so witty and the reading experience so comforting and familiar.

It is a mostly funny and often moving book. There are some great scenes, especially involving one-on-one conversations, like when Cordelia and Oliver have lunch early on, or when Cordelia shows her grandson some of Aral’s sketches, or when Oliver and Miles talk after the birthday party. It is good to learn more about Aral through Cordelia and Oliver's memories of him. And there are some neat descriptions of the Autumnal romance, as, for instance, when Jole is 'Squinting into the light till the crow's feet seemed to wink at her.' And Miles gets some good lines too, like 'I know I had issues with being an only child, but really mother, NINE siblings?'

That said, it all seems a little too easy compared to other Vorkosigan books. Thanks to the technology of Cordelia's homeworld, Beta Colony, it is easy in Bujold’s sf future to do things like live healthily past 100, to fully enjoy a 50-year-old lover at age 76, to become a mother (multiple times) after age 76, to make babies (artificial conception and uterine replicators mean that women no longer need to conceive, carry, and bear babies), and so on. Another mild kvetch might be that Bujold's seemingly bold move in writing at least half her novel from the point of view of a bisexual character is actually rather tame because Oliver's relationship with Aral is a thing of the past and because he's currently so in love with Cordelia that he seems heterosexual. A more challenging story for Bujold and her readers would depict some or all of the twenty-year period when Oliver and Aral were lovers. . . And Bujold badly uses or under uses the relatively new flora and fauna of Sergyar too much for an sf novel.

Grover Gardner reads the audiobook and continues to be the only person I can imagine reading the Vorkosigan series. He reads with perfect clarity, emphasis, and understanding. He never does accents, whether Barryaran or Cetagandan, etc., which is both a blessing and a pity. A reader like John Lee would be trying hard to give the different cultures different accents based on earth's (Russian, American, etc.), which would probably distract from the story. On the other hand, it's a little disconcerting when Cordelia's broad Betan accent is rendered in the same American English as every other character's.

I noticed that Gardner, like all of us, is aging, and that his golden voice reading this book has a new huskiness. Was it his aging voice or the (relatively) quiet plot that made me wonder if the sun powering Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga is finally running out of energy?

Veterans of the Vorkosigan series would like this book, while new readers should begin with earlier novels like Shards of Honor or Warrior’s Apprentice.

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  • Gomez Fabulous
  • 13-04-2016

vanishing armada

I was so disappointed with this book. After the first chapters, I only skimmed. I was kind of painful to see characters and relationships I loved sacrificed... for what?

I have read every Vorkisigan book, and some of them are among my favorite books ever. Bujold's writing style is in my top three of all-time.

But in a seemingly obsessive pursuit to redefine/challenge morality, Bujold has turned all of these beloved characters into an amorphous, meaningless mass, especially in this book.

I loved it when the characters were different from each other, when they challenged each other. Now I can only say: "This again?"

11 people found this helpful

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  • Brendan
  • 11-02-2016

More romance than usual for the Vorkosigan series.

More introspection with characters and a focus on the romance aspects than in previous stories. This is fitting with the characters aging and life changes. Still, not quite as adventurous as I would preferred as I am more of a fan of Mile's frantic capers. (I am stating this as a preference not an actual criticism of the book.). Overall a good enjoyable story that is well written and flawlessly narrated.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 18-11-2016

Every trace of an exciting plot dispensed with

Would you try another book written by Lois McMaster Bujold or narrated by Grover Gardner?

I have read them all. This was the one that appealed least - even less than Diplomatic Immunity and Cryoburn.

Has Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen put you off other books in this genre?

A difficult question, since the genre it appears to be written for isn't the genre in which most of Ms Bujold's books are set. It's a lazy, self-indulgent self-congratulatory conclusion for Ms Bujold's own favourite Mary Sue, bringing in character after character who had submerged all other attributes to support her. If you like the ideas of BayBees! and Toddlers! and agonising over long-dead secrets - secrets which within days they seem happy to tell to anyone who's interested, all of whom accept with it grace and tolerance.The only one of the on-going problems that actually boiled over was deal with so efficiently by Mary Sue's idealised devoted swain that it became an anticlimax. No wrecks, and nobody drownded, in fact nothing to laugh at all. I began to wish that Miles would poke the hexapod with his stick with the horse'shead handle. If you are going to write an episode in a space opera, don't buy plot bunnies, then decide not to use them to any effect.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen?

The important question is - which scenes would I have insisted on being inserted. They would have been scenes with some more significant action than a made up game, competed in by characters we neither knew, nor cared about, with rules that might have been comprehensible, but were, absolutely, irrelevant. There might have been a dastardly Cetegandan plot, or a raid by Jackson's Hole on the mothballed Prince Serge, or even a sudden eruption of a volcano. But instead we got kids eating cake.

Any additional comments?

I am keeping it because I have the others, and have only myself to blame for not heeding the warnings.

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  • Krok84
  • 12-06-2016

Very disappointing read.

I felt quite let down by this addition to the saga. I finished it simply out of loyalty to the grand story world I love. I wish I could travel back in time, give my younger self a short summary and save the credit for something more worthy.

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  • Dowie
  • 08-02-2016

No Space drama its just a mills & boon romance

Would you try another book written by Lois McMaster Bujold or narrated by Grover Gardner?

I have the purchased them all since the Warriors Apprentice and really enjoyed them. I really like the wheeling and dealing that the author can generate and tell with interest. I was so looking forward to this.

What was most disappointing about Lois McMaster Bujold’s story?

This was put forward as a Miles Vorkosogan story. He just appears hafl way through kind of thing. Its a romance not adventure. The story is well crafted and highlights a number of issues. However its not about beating the bandwagon

Which character – as performed by Grover Gardner – was your favourite?

Gardener is a brilliant narrator its just this book content with nods to previous storylines isnt for me .

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen?

Non question its the authors work - they have to get it right

Any additional comments?

On the edge of sending this back - but I wont , mostly because of Grovers narration , it can play in the background. If you are new to the Vorkosogan Saga don't start with this one you wont want to read the rest

2 people found this helpful

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  • J. Furlong
  • 07-05-2017

Space Mills&Boone

I'm a big fan of Miles and even a little bit of his assorted relatives, but I really don't know why this book exists. Cordelia is mildly irritating at the best of times, but this book bring entirely devoid of action, drama or even any kind of arc pushes all her worst traits to the fore. It also gives plenty of space to Bujold's annoying habit of over-using and describing gestures, usually hand gestures, that nobody in the history of the universe has ever actually used.

I don't particularly want to read a romance novel, never have, but if I did, I would rather like it to have some kind of a plot. I kept waiting for someone to happen! I feel tricked into reading this as I normally know that I'm getting in the Vorkosiverse.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Digitalsitiriyadh
  • 21-05-2016

Vorkosigan, but not Miles

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Somewhat. It's a nice enough story, but a real departure from other vorkosigan saga.

Would you recommend Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen to your friends? Why or why not?

Probably not. It's really not my cup of tea.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Nothing really springs to mind. Not that it is bland, it just did not grab me the way the usual vorkosigan saga would.

Do you think Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No. Give me back the space opera!

Any additional comments?

I was tempted to return the book, but I did enjoy the narration, even if it was disappointing. It's like ordering a ribeye steak, and getting nicoise instead. I still enjoyed it, but it is not steak

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tuomo
  • 03-10-2019

No scifi here

Story was nice, and would have needed very little editing in order to fit in Victorian England.

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  • Keith K
  • 25-05-2018

another good yarn from Ms Bujold

Ms Bujold is consistently one of the very best authors in the genre and this book although a little different is excellently crafted.

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  • Elena
  • 08-11-2017

a bit of a disappointment

good to revisit old favourite characters and check what they are up to, but not as dynamic and full of sparkle as Vorkosigan normally is. Especially after such gems as cryoburn and captain vorpatryl's alliance. I wonder if this is the last we are hearing of this world. It would be a real shame. I would be curious to see how Alex and Miles plays out.

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  • Hevpais
  • 20-02-2018

Loved this book

I admit that I read this one with reluctance, given the Big Event at the end of the previous book (no spoilers). However, I loved it. It swiftly climbed the listings of my favourite LMB's books right up to second - Civil Campaign being up there at the top. Jole is a very likeable character and, as with all LMB's characters, you really feel that you get under his skin.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-05-2016

Different but does draw you in.

Not quite what I was expecting but Grovers usual beautiful reading and the authors careful, polished writing is like an old friend.

These books are I think unique. I only hope Lois continues to delight us for many years to come.

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