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.
Kat at FanLit
Originally posted at FanLit.
I was afraid I wasn’t going to like A Civil Campaign as well as the previous VORKOSIGAN novels because, according to the description, the plot takes place all on the planet Barrayar and it deals mostly with relationship issues for several of the characters. Most of the various editions of the book sport covers with couples dancing or getting married. So, yeah, I thought it was a romance novel.
Well, A Civil Campaign is a romance novel, but because it involves the romances of Miles Vorkosigan, his clone brother Mark, and his tomcatting cousin Ivan Vorpatril, it is, thankfully, a lot more than that. Along with the romance, Bujold weaves in a few funny subplots that both entertain and advance the plot of the VORKOSIGAN series on the non-romantic fronts, too.
Miles’ goal in this book is to convince the widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson to marry him. (We met her in Komarr.) Ekaterin’s first marriage was painful and she is not inclined to repeat the experience. That’s just one problem. The other is that Ekaterin is beautiful and a Vor. Since beautiful single Vor women are rare on patriarchal Barrayar (the previous generation genetically selected for boys), they are in high demand. Miles has to court Ekaterin without scaring her away while he attempts to fend off all other suitors and while he tries to maintain his dignity as an Imperial Auditor. Other romances are going on, too. Gregor’s wedding is being planned by Ivan’s mother. Mark is courting one of the Koudelka girls (her father is not pleased!) and Ivan has suddenly realized that while he has been happily carousing for years, all the best girls were getting snatched up.
Meanwhile, since Aral Vorkosigan is off planet, Miles is left with his father’s political duties and the counsel has to deal with a couple of inheritance disputes. One of them involves the problem of patriarchy and the other involves racism. Lois McMaster Bujold has a way of commenting on these issues using humor instead of a hammer — it’s both effective and entertaining.
Along with the all the romance and politics, Bujold serves up a hilarious storyline in which Mark, who now considers himself an entrepreneur, teams up with a brilliant but socially inept scientist to genetically engineer insects that vomit up a cheap and nutritious creamy substance that they hope to market to the universe. They set up a lab in Vorkosigan house and get the lovely Koudelka girls to be their lab assistants. This slapstick storyline is a little over the top, but I thought it worked well as a contrast to the politics and romance. Bujold weaves all of these plots together for a synergistic effect that’s quite pleasing.
There are some niggling little problems with A Civil Campaign, at least for me. One was that I couldn’t muster up the attraction for Ekaterin that Miles seems to feel. I am not sure why he loves her — she’s kind of dull. Also, her reaction to the discovery that Miles was trying to sneakily court her was unreasonable, and his reaction to her reaction was even more unreasonable. This has to do with my second complaint which is that Miles and Mark are both in their thirties but act like they’re eighteen. Miles is an Imperial Auditor, in fact — a very distinguished position in the empire. I forgave their immaturity in previous novels because it seemed like the messes they got themselves into weren’t really their faults. In this novel, though, they don’t have such a good excuse… On the other hand, this juvenile behavior, which culminates in this case in a disastrous dinner party, is exactly what makes the plot so entertaining, isn’t it?
I’m listening to Grover Gardner narrate the audio version of the VORKOSIGAN saga. He’s awesome.
Oh, that was just lovely. I enjoyed every minute of it. Bujold decided to have some fun, and Barrayar is a perfect setting.
I'm an avid science fiction and fantasy reader. I study Chemical Engineering at the UofU and do photography on the side.
It ranks very well.
Miles of course.
When the Kudelka girls were attacking the Escobaran men attempting to extradite their scientist.
Made me laugh, yes.
This book isn't full of physical danger like the others, however it is still one of his best.
This book, along with the whole series, is well worth a listen. Lois McMaster Bujold's writing style is fantastic. The way he writes Miles with his subtle sarcasm and self deprecating style is always entertaining. In this book he finally finds a love that he can keep, but of course nothing goes as planned and Miles always finds a unique solution to his, and everybody else’s, problems.
Of course Miles who is best described by a paraphrased quote from a previous book "Do you know the old myths where a father gave his daughter's unexceptable suitor an impossible task to prove his worthiness. Don't ever do that with Miles it can be disasterous for everyone"
Not yet but his performance in this series is great
Miles always makes me laugh, out loud sometimes, which tends to get me strange looks on an airplane.
I would reccomend you start from the beginning of the series and work through it. If you're anything like me you won't be disappointed.
I've enjoyed all of the books by Ms Bujold. The Vorkosigan saga is particularly enjoyable.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
Really pleasant characters in a fleshed out universe. One of the best, highly prolific sci-fi writers I have found. These books are about people (human and otherwise) and science-fiction is only a scaffolding for the issues and actions of the characters. So far these have been quite consistently good. I really should give this 4 stars not 5 but I just can't stop myself...