It says something for how well I take to Bujold's SF that I deliberately waited til the weekend to start this. I'm always thoroughly intrigued about what will happen next, and stay up far too late to find out.Ivan Vorpatril has long been primary protagonist Miles Vorkosigan's foil and polar opposite - blessed with all the physical attributes Miles lacked, and lacking all the brilliance and ambition Miles had in spades. And here, in a volume devoted to Ivan, we see the feckless boy matured into a somewhat responsible man who still isn't very forward-thinking and definitely isn't ambitious.It's a satisfying read, but a little Dorothy L Sayers in its pandering to established readers - I'm not sure how a reader new to Bujold would take the immense cast and back-history which is part and parcel of the plot line.Tej is a sympathetic enough character, a good match for Ivan's personality, though boy was I wishing she would grow a spine during parts of the story. The sheer ingratitude of her family (though hardly surprising given their planet of origin) was breath-taking, and Tej's avoidance approach to dealing with divided loyalties took the shine off the romance for me.There's also a strong dose of...not quite gender essentialism in this universe. Not just in the still strongly lingering sexism of Barrayar, but many repeated "girl stuff", "boy stuff", "men do this", "women do that" asides, which are always tedious to read.But that's a minor quibble - I still read the book straight through and wished I had another.