Book Review : Ethan of Athos

Dr. Ethan Urquhart is Chief of Biology at a District Reproduction Center. He delivers babies from uterine replicators. You see, on Athos there are no women. In fact, the planet is forbidden to them. Isolated from the galactic community by distance and a lack of exploitable resources, the Athosians have peacefully lived their peculiar social experiment for two hundred years. But now, the ovarian cultures dating back to the original settlement of the planet are giving out. With the future of Athos at stake, Ethan is chosen on behalf of his cloistered fellows for a unique mission: to brave the wider universe in quest of new ovarian tissue cultures to replenish Athos’ dwindling stocks. Along the way, he must tangle with covert operatives, killers, telepathy, interplanetary politics, and—perhaps most disturbingly—an indomitable female mercenary named Elli Quinn.

Title : Ethan of Athos
Author : Lois McMaster Bujold
Narrator : Grover Gardner
ISBN : 9781433250958
Copyright : 1986
Duration : 6 hours 55 minutes

3.5 Stars


  • Interesting characters.
  • Unexpected twists in the plot.
  • Chance to explore the wider world of the Vorkosigan universe.
  • Lots of action. I liked the many things the characters had to do to accomplish each goal.
  • Great use of setting. It was so vivid that I felt like I knew what it looked like. And this story could not have taken place anywhere else! Some of the action and plot was contingent upon the space station setting.
  • The narrator did a good job of differentiating characters and genders. The female characters voiced by this male narrator did not sound forced.


  • Truncated ending. Eight whole months, and several planets which they visited are skipped over! I found this frustrating. The author did such a good job building up Ethan’s character, I wanted to know how he dealt with visiting the planets of Escobar and Beta Colony, as well as his developing relationships with other key characters. Because the ending after the main conflict is not much more than an epilogue showing the happily-ever-afters, I didn’t trust or believe in the resolution.
  • Plot holes. That is, this author has developed a whole canon of information regarding the Vorkosigan Universe and technology. At the time of Ethan’s mission, ovarian cultures would no longer have been needed to create babies. Scientists had discovered how to do it with basic cells. Ethan had access to current scientific literature; he receives a shipment of uncensored obstetric journals early in the story. Given the Athosians’ distaste of anything related to women, I find it very odd that they would stick to the ovarian tissue method.
  • No Miles Vorkosigan! 😉

About shortlibrarian

I am a woman working in the Twin Cities as a programming Librarian.
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