Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Komarr, Chapters 1 and 2

In last week’s blog post, I asserted that Ekaterin had a number of reasons to flee Barrayar screaming. I recall the first time I read the opening chapter of Komarr as one of the biggest surprises of my reading life because Ekaterin was the viewpoint character. Framing the book with her perspective lets Bujold get right down to brass tacks on the reasons to flee screaming front.

The first couple chapters of the book introduce Ekaterin and Tien Vorsoisson. Using Ekaterin’s point-of-view allows Bujold to reveal Tien as an asshole with remarkable economy. In his first appearance, he criticizes his wife’s family and her cooking without pausing for breath and then moves on to barring Ekaterin from seeking help in getting him medical treatment. This conversation has a dramatic finale—she begs him not to kill himself on the way to the shuttleport. This is the everyday discourse of their marriage. ...