As I read on I've been thinking that she had grown milder with age or for some other reason stopped freezing the readers' spines - time and again I tensed in anticipation of something horrible that was about to happen to one of the good guys, but the rescue was always in time and no lasting damage was done.
Little did I know that the real heart-stopper was reserved for the end of the book. Quite literally, the world went still as I read that "Count Vorkosigan, sir?"
And so unexpected... I remember writing that this was the one possible development for Miles's world, that his reaction on losing his father will be the topic of the next book - but as the pages to the end were so little, I relaxed and believed that this was just one more Miles-the-detective story, a light something after more emotionally racking books - and the bombshell dropped.
It was masterly - the announcement, the drabbles on different characters, Cordelia at her best, all so consistent and no false note anywhere. Had it taken Bujold more time to write these than the whole book? Shouldn't wonder.
Oh, I don't have the heart to write about the book itself. And a passionate obituary to Admiral Count Aral Vorkosigan, the Viceroy of Sergyar, which I would have longed to write, is far above my limited talents.