Lois McMaster Bujold - Cetaganda [UNABRIDGET AUDIOBOOK WITH TEXT]
The Vorkosigan Saga is a series of science fiction novels and short stories by American author Lois McMaster Bujold. Most of them concern Miles Vorkosigan, a physically disabled aristocrat from the planet Barrayar whose life (from before birth), military career, and post-military career is a challenge to his native planet's prejudices against "mutants."
In Cetaganda, Miles and Ivan are sent to the homeworld of the Cetagandan Empire to represent Barrayar at the Imperial funeral of the dowager Empress. They soon become entangled in an internal Cetagandan plot which leads to murder.
Miles forms an unusual alliance with Rian Degtiar, the "Hand-Maiden of the Star Creche", who is charged with the duties of Empress until the new one is chosen. Miles solves the complex mystery and prevents the Cetagandan Empire from fragmenting into nine dangerously expansion-minded parts. Miles, much to his chagrin, is publicly awarded the "Order of Merit", the highest Cetagandan award, by the Emperor himself. He also picks up clues to a Cetagandan genetic experiment, which becomes the object of much skulduggery in Ethan of Athos.
Cetaganda was nominated for a Locus Award in 1997.