Scaramouche has always been one of my favorite novels. It has everything good escape fiction should have- great characters, an interesting setting, twists and turns, ups and downs and surprises. I've probably read the book three or four times but it all seemed fresh again with this reading. The reader does a very good job with most of the characters and keeps the action moving very fast. Several times I sat in my car continuing to listen (I listen to books in my car via my Ipod) even though I had arrived at my destination- always a mark of a good audiobook. I only have one complaint. Some of the older female characters were made to seem a bit too pompous and ridiculous through the reading.
Finally, Lois has written a book for those of us who wanted to learn more about Ivan Vorpatril, one of her more amusing and interesting side characters. As the book opens, Ivan is on Komarr as the aide to an important admiral. In his mid-30's he's still the bachelor playboy he has always been but is perhaps just a bit tired of it all. One day he is approached by his sort-of friend and covert ImpSec operative Byerly with a simple request: Romance a beautiful woman. What could be easier for a guy like Ivan? But very quickly this simple request goes amusingly, and dangerously, sideways. Soon Ivan finds himself at the center of kidnapping plots and galactic politics as he must struggle to save both the fair damsel in distress and his career. At the same time his personal life is upended in ways he never expected.
And through it all Ivan is revealed as a far more three-dimensional character than in previous books. No longer just Miles' foil, he is revealed as highly competent, kind, resourceful and able to think quickly under pressure. While I was at first just a little skeptical that an Ivan story would be able to carry an entire book I'm happy to report that my concerns were unfounded as Lois comes through once again for her readers.
A word is in order about Grover Gardner's masterful reading. He's read the entire series and really made it his own. He's kept all the voices consistent throughout the series and does a terrific job with female characters, something that other male readers sometimes find difficult. Bravo Grover!
The book ends with a note by the author concerning the order in which the books should be read. This, coupled with the fact that her characters are now comfortably domesticated leads me to believe that she has wrapped up the Vorkosigan saga with this novel. If so, thank you Lois for a great ride and for leaving us these wonderful books to be reread and savored.
I was extremely disappointed in this collection. The first story made no sense at all. The next two were dull and implausible. And then I gave up. Maybe the final two are modern masterpieces but I just don't have the patience to find out. The first three stories lacked compelling characters or believable situations and I grew tired of dialogue that sounded more like people lecturing each other about sustainability and carbon footprints. There's plenty of great science fiction on Audible, don't waste your credit on this bore.
I had listened to several of the novels in the series and when I finished Komarr it was the chronologically last one available at Audible. So I purchased A Civil Campaign in paperback. For some reason I was unable to get through it and put it down after around 50 pages. Then, when it finally was offered by Audible I downloaded it and listened with total enjoyment. Apparently for me at least these novels are better heard than read. I think that Grover Gardner's masterful reading style really brings out the humor in these novels. He also does a very fine job with the female characters, not often easy for a male reader. Bravo Lois and Grover!
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