I have been reading the full Vorkosigan series from the very first book, and have taken my time. Each of the books are fun, witty and adventurous; and by reading them in order, you fully understand the world that LMBujold is building. Each book is thus a joy to read and I liked them.
However, from Memory and then Komarr and now A Civil Campaign (ACC), Bujold gives something extra: tension! First the tension within Miles about his own identity, and next the tension in his relationship with the woman he loves but does not dare to court directly.
As far as I am concerned, both Komarr and ACC are primarily about Miles' love for Ekatarin, a love that she proves herself more than worthy for (and who would expect anything less). The adventure story in ACC was, imho, thrown in as a backstory. Let alone the story of Mark and the butter bugs, which was mostly diversion.
What makes this book better than others is that it contains very wise lessons about the nature of relationships. For example that wanting to give the person you love anything she needs, might not be the best for her/him. I also liked the lesson Aral gives desperate Miles about the difference between honor and reputation: reputation is what others think of you, honor is what you think about yourself. You need to concern yourself mostly with the second, because that is your soul. The relationship between Miles and Ekatarin grows as Miles is restraining himself to be a good partner, instead of trying to conquer Ekatarin. And she grows in her role as the future Lady Vorkosigan because of his attention and the world he offers. "If the person is defined by the friends he has, than Miles must be something special indeed" is an interesting way of looking at relations. One that kept me thinking for quite a while (and still does).
That Miles together with Ekatarin save the day can only be expected, and they truly deserve each other. I wish them all the love and happiness!
Unabashed book junkie
I won't repeat the many praises of the other reviewers, except to say they are all true. Bujold has a way of phrasing essential truths, often via Cordelia's wisdom, in a way you want to keep, quote, and pass on to your kids.
In this book, she has outdone herself in the arena of saying perfectly what MUST be said right. Miles' letter to Ekaterin is a template for the true declaration of love that rivals anything Shakespeare offers. Oh, that I could have said it so well when the time came to declare my love to my own heart's Countess...
There's very little space opera in this book, more Regency romance a la Georgette Heyer. Nonetheless, it is a gem, if only for the joy of Miles having to deal with the intricacies of courting his ladylove in the midst of Emperor Gregor's wedding preparations. There are also complications with the inevitable Barrayaran politics getting physical, as a couple of Countships come into dispute; Ivan has some great moments as he is unwillingly dragged into this. And there's a particularly wonderful bit wherein Miles dons his old Dendarii uniform jacket and for a couple of moments becomes 'the little Admiral' with his Betan accent, which Grover Gardner does with great skill. That part I want to go back and listen to over and over.
I've read the print version several times, but listening to Grover Gardner's voices brings an entire new dimension, a nice enhancement to the story and the character development.
(In part from my Goodreads review)
Every time I start a book from this series, I hear myself thinking something like, "okay, I've just got to get through the buildup part of the book to the good stuff." Then after listening to the whole thing, I am amazed that I even considered the buildup something to 'get through'. You'd think I'd learn after reading the rest of this series. Lots of humor, great political intrigue, just a lot of fun to read.
I have listened to these stories at least once, they are so intertaining that I will probably listen to them again. I love the humor.
I love to read, but I am time-limited. Audible allows me to keep up with all my favorite authors while on the hiking trail. Thanks, Audible!
This installment does a really good job illustrating just how much common sense Ivan lacks. It is hilarious, awkward, and entertaining. Enjoy the listen.
Some new and old characters mixing together and ending up in one umorous situation after another. The other books in the series have a few humourous moments, but this one has many of them. There are some less light moments, but it is the comedic situations that the characters find themselves in that really makes this book great.
Perhaps the best of the Vorkosigan books to date. Despite a total absence of space battles and the majority of the book focusing on Miles' love life , this book is as great as any in the series. It's probably Bujold's wittiest piece, with some outright slapstick, and it packs a substantial emotional punch too.
We've all been living with these wonderful characters for so long that it feels very cathartic indeed as they pair up.
If you have made it this far in the saga then all you need to know is that this part lives up to its promise and more.
I read this book in print when first published, and enjoyed it greatly. The audible version brings the original story to life, richly. I've listened to many of Grover Gardner's narratives and he does an inspired job on this one! Highly recommended!