Lois McMaster Bujold stands at the top of my podium of living writers. She has a way with words that is utterly amazing, concise and precise and yet perfect articulate and readable. You can skim through her books, enjoying the rip-roaring space opera plots or take it slow and realise she hits on some important, profound concepts. I'm not the only one who agrees - she's got 4 Hugo's (matching Robert A. Heinlein's record) and I'm sure she'll exceed it soon enough.
Captain Vorpartil's Alliance takes place between Cryoburn and Diplomatic Immunity and focuses on one of her fan favorite characters; Ivan Vorpartil. Mile's often-sidekick and the straight guy in many of her novels, he's now the one up to radical shenanigans and derring-do in his own inestimable way.
Overall, the book is what I expected it to be. A fun-filled romp with Ivan at turns brilliantly and bumblingly making his way through politics and saving damsels in distress while attempting to avoid actually doing anything (as much as possible). For once we see a deeper side of Ivan, Bujold laying bare the forces that have made him as he is and the choices he has made to live the life that he has. It's an interesting character study, a discussion about potential, danger and sacrifice underneath a tale of intergalactic romance.