So, finally a Miles adventure that is not all about mercenaries, shooting, kidnapping, and so forth, but more about Barrayaran history and politics, hereditary wheeling and dealing, the council of counts, medical ethics, and romance.
Of course, the emperor's impending wedding is central, as expected. So, almost all the action takes place in the capital of Barrayar, Vorbar Sultana.
Yes, indeed, this is a bit different from the usual, but still very Miles... and Mark... and Vorkosigan. But with a bit more romance and comedy mixed in with the usual intrigue. Parts of it are hilarious!
I listened to this book via the Audible app and the narrator, Grover Gardner, is awesome.
how does the 15 + books by Lois McMaster Bujold, this is my favorite book yet. I love it. It brings together so many characters and so many storylines it's hard to imagine where she would go here.
Bujold does a wonderful job with the genre of a comedy of manners. It ends as a proper comedy should, and makes you feel for the characters-- even at the height of their stupidity.
one of the best written of the series. really fills out the Miles character as well as Ivan.
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.
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!
I love the Miles Vorkosigan series. This particular story is fun and light hearted and entertaining. Grover Gardener is one of my favorite performers. This is especially true now that I am hard of hearing. Lois McMaster Bujold is one of my favorite authors.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
A Civil Campaign (1999), maybe the ninth space opera novel by Lois McMaster Bujold about Miles Vorkosigan, begins a short while after the events of the previous novel, Komarr (1998), during which Miles fell in love with Ekaterin Vorsoisson, an unhappily married woman, witnessed her become a widow in traumatic fashion, and solved his first case as Imperial Auditor. Now Miles and Ekaterin are back on their home world Barrayar, in its capitol Vorbarr Sultana. Having suffered through ten years of psychological spousal abuse, the widow has no interest in remarrying, so Miles initiates a campaign of covert courting: hire her to design a new public garden by his estate, appealing to her landscaping interests, helping her start a new career, and spending a lot of time with her. What could go wrong?
Into that plot, Bujold interweaves many other civil campaigns. Miles' clone-brother Mark and Kareen Koudelka, for instance, have just returned to hidebound, patriarchal Barrayar after a year as lovers on the advanced, anything goes Beta Colony. Will Kareen's family accept Mark as her potential husband? After all, he is a clone who was created and trained as a weapon to destroy Miles, and who is now the unstable manager of four, torture-created sub-personalities, Grunt, Gorge, Killer, and Howler. Will Kareen be able to find a way to be with Mark and to be herself on Barrayar? Still more. To Barrayar Mark has brought (bought?) Dr. Enrique Borgos, a nutty bio-chemist professor who breeds genetically modified butter bugs to eat any flora and regurgitate it as highly nutritious curd. Will Mark be able to turn this into a successful business? And Captain Ivan Vorpatril, Miles' unambitious cousin, is trying to avoid any difficult work while dreaming of reuniting with a former lover. Meanwhile, the progressive and conservative Barrayaran Counts are jockeying for power, as it has recently come to light that Count Rene Vorbretten is half Cetagandan (Cetaganda being a bitter enemy of Barrayar), while Lady Donna Voruttyer has been trying to find a way to succeed her recently deceased brother as Count when "The prick's always been the most important qualification for a Countship." All of these sub-plots occur in the context of the impending politically-charged marriage between Emperor Gregor of Barrayar and Dr. Laisa Toscane of Kommar.
The sub-title of the novel, "a Comedy of Biology and Manners," then, is quite apt. In addition to comical and moving romance on Barrayar, biology plays an amusing role, from the genetic engineering of the butter bugs to the changing cultural and social milieu on Barrayar (uterine replicators, sex changes, clones, and the like). Here be no epic battles involving fleets of star ships belonging to various alien and human civilizations. There is a suspenseful fracas in a parking area involving stun guns, a kick to the groin, a vibra-knife, and a bottle of liquid bandage, as well as a zany melee involving multiple tubs of butter bug curd, two foreign policemen, two spunky Koudelka daughters, one hunky undressed House Vorkosigan Armsman, and one gormless scientist.
As usual, Miles is fun to watch, being brilliant, energetic, charismatic, and, because of his dwarfish stature, overly driven and prone to finding himself in sticky situations from which he tries to extricate himself by "forward momentum," escalating impromptu bold moves and BS, though his talents may not work so well in his first courtship. Ekaterin is a good match for Miles: intelligent, creative, dignified, and excited to find her soul since the death of her husband.
As usual, Bujold writes many great lines:
--"The Countess was to obstacles as a laser canon was to flies."
--"So, hope staggered upright again, like a newly revived cryo-corpse, dizzied and squinting in the light."
--"Yes, if anyone was going to crawl around on the floor hunting bugs alongside Ekaterin, it would be him, dammit!"
--"Well, it could have been worse. I'm glad you didn't have him watch Hamlet."
--"Intimacy of the flesh seemed easy, after the far more terrifying intimacy of the mind."
As usual, Grover Gardner gives an engaging, no frills, spot on reading of a Miles Vorkosigan novel; I can't imagine any other reader doing it.
For all those good things, some things in A Civil Campaign are less good. The Barrayar aristocratic imperial system and Miles' use therein of his connections (like his war-hero parents Aral and Cordelia, Emperor friend Gregor, and former ImpSec boss Simon Ilyan) are a bit disconcerting. (A code card giving immediate comm link access to the Emperor is sure handy!) Although the book affectingly exposes the negative aspects of male dominated societies (where being female is "a legal disease"), I also wish it had more serious investigation of the motivations, implications, and ramifications of things like gender change and genetically engineered invader insect species. As much as I like watching Miles on his homeworld as it becomes less insular, feudal, and patriarchal and more "galactic," I miss his former mercenary entrepreneur life as Admiral Naismith away from Barrayar. And the climax of the novel relies too much on the too unsubtle behavior of a too obvious villain.
Finally, A Civil Campaign IS entertaining, witty, and character and culture driven space opera, one great, amusing scene after another (until, perhaps, the climax). Readers who would want to read Jane Austen doing romantic and political sf comedies would like this book.