I was honored to serve on the 2022 Reading List council in 2021-2022. The Reading List is an annual best-of list comprised of eight different fiction genres for adult readers. It meant that 2021 was a year of lots of reading (like…a lot a lot of reading), but it was a terrific experience overall. You can see the winner and the shortlist for each genre on the RUSA website:
The Warrior’s Apprentice is a sci-fi novel by Lois McMaster Bujold, set within the greater Vorkosigan Saga. This novel is the first that follows the intrepid Miles Vorkosigan, a teenager who because of his birth defects is unable to join the military as family tradition dictates. Instead Miles creates his own military force away from his home planet, purely by circumstance. Bujold’s book is fast-paced with great characters and appeals to science fiction fans who enjoy space operas and military sci-fi. Though the Vorkosigan Saga is 29 books total and includes many short stories and novellas, readers can explore The Warrior Apprentice‘s appeal factors in other science fiction works. Here are 5 recommendations for fans of Miles:
Mutineer (Book 1 in the in the Kris Longknife series) by Mike Shepherd: Just like Miles, Kris Longknife is born into privilege and wealth. She’s well-bred, beautiful, and would make a great wife to any man. Too bad she doesn’t want to get married. Against her parents’ wishes, Kris enlists in the marines. Hardcore military sci-fi fans may not enjoy this book’s lighter angle, but Shepherd’s book would appeal to space opera aficionados.
Trading in Danger (Book 1 in the Vatta’s War series) by Elizabeth Moon: Miles’ journey sometimes reads like a space pirate story, and Kylara Vatta’s tale in Trading in Danger reads very similarly. Kylara starts as a shining star in the military. But one mistake sends her out of the service and back home to the family business – interstellar transport. A seemingly simple job of sending an old ship to the junkyard becomes a thrilling adventure that places her in the middle of a colonial war, putting her military training to the test.
With the Lightnings (Book 1 in the Lt. Leary/RCN series) by David Drake: Many fans who enjoyed all of the Vorkosigan saga discovered Drake’s Lt. Leary series soon after. With the Lightnings follows the unlikely pair of Lieutenant Daniel Leary and librarian/hacker Adele Mundy as they traverse the complicated waters of intergalactic war. This book has a larger military bent so those who are looking for a solid space opera may not enjoy Drake’s series.
On Basilisk Station (Book 1 in the Honor Harrington series) by David Weber: Honor Harrington’s career is off to a rocky start – her commanding officers have sent her to the remote Basilisk Station, in hopes that her existence will be forgotten. But Honor is not ready to be thrown out so quickly, and her expert military training and new ship Fearless are ready to prove them wrong. This series can also appeal to young adults looking for a sci-fi story with good world building.
Tarnished Knight (Book 1 in the Lost Stars series) by Jack Campbell: Set within Campbell’s greater sci-fi mythos, Tarnished Knight continues in a world where the Alliance has persevered over the Syndicate. As the Syndicate’s world crumbles and is threatened by alien forces, Artur Drakon and Gwen Iceni work within it’s interest to try and save the Midway Star System. Campbell has a military background in the navy, and Tarnished Knight brings a fast-paced and plot driven novel that integrates elements of military life into its story.
Readalike poster – PDF
I had a lot of fun doing research for this article! My Goodreads to-read shelf definitely grew considerably. There is so much good fantasy out there, it’s hard to focus on finding a book or a series that really captures the appeal factors of George R.R. Martin’s books. For all you Game of Thrones/ASOIAF fans out there, are there any other good books or series you would recommend as well?