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A Civil Campaign

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Miles Vorkosigan has a problem: unrequited love for the beautiful widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson, violently allergic to marriage after her first exposure. If a frontal assault won't do, Miles thinks, try subterfuge. He has a cunning plan... Lord Mark Vorkosigan, Miles' brother, also has a problem: his love has just become unrequited again. But he has a cunning plan... Lord Ivan Miles Vorkosigan has a problem: unrequited love for the beautiful widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson, violently allergic to marriage after her first exposure. If a frontal assault won't do, Miles thinks, try subterfuge. He has a cunning plan... Lord Mark Vorkosigan, Miles' brother, also has a problem: his love has just become unrequited again. But he has a cunning plan... Lord Ivan Vorpatril, Mile's cousin, has a problem: unrequited love in general. But he too has a cunning plan... A complex story, as the various members of Miles' family attempt to find their one true love, and a measure of destiny. This against a background of domestic political squabbles and an earnest attempt at capitalist enterprise.


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Miles Vorkosigan has a problem: unrequited love for the beautiful widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson, violently allergic to marriage after her first exposure. If a frontal assault won't do, Miles thinks, try subterfuge. He has a cunning plan... Lord Mark Vorkosigan, Miles' brother, also has a problem: his love has just become unrequited again. But he has a cunning plan... Lord Ivan Miles Vorkosigan has a problem: unrequited love for the beautiful widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson, violently allergic to marriage after her first exposure. If a frontal assault won't do, Miles thinks, try subterfuge. He has a cunning plan... Lord Mark Vorkosigan, Miles' brother, also has a problem: his love has just become unrequited again. But he has a cunning plan... Lord Ivan Vorpatril, Mile's cousin, has a problem: unrequited love in general. But he too has a cunning plan... A complex story, as the various members of Miles' family attempt to find their one true love, and a measure of destiny. This against a background of domestic political squabbles and an earnest attempt at capitalist enterprise.

30 review for A Civil Campaign

  1. 5 out of 5

    Evgeny

    A buddy read with Choko and Maria. Dear book it is not you, it is me. You are great and I sincerely wish you more new satisfied readers in the future. I just had different expectations, sorry. I expected you to be dashing, daring, take the risk and hell with the consequences type. Instead I got a romance. A well-written, entertaining, mostly funny, but still romance. A series which started as an excellent space opera became (you guessed it) a romance with the only relation to space being word "pl A buddy read with Choko and Maria. Dear book it is not you, it is me. You are great and I sincerely wish you more new satisfied readers in the future. I just had different expectations, sorry. I expected you to be dashing, daring, take the risk and hell with the consequences type. Instead I got a romance. A well-written, entertaining, mostly funny, but still romance. A series which started as an excellent space opera became (you guessed it) a romance with the only relation to space being word "planet" used twice in the book. The last book ended with Miles falling head over heels in love - with a woman completely mismatched for him I might add. Because she was still damaged from her previous bad marriage a new one was the last thing on her mind. Miles who used to command a mercenary fleet and overcome greatest odds against him devised a similar approach to his courtship. His brother Mark finally decided to make an appearance being promptly absent in the last several books. He fell head over hills in love and had a problem somewhat similar to Miles'. He also decided to make some money on side by engaging in some very... interesting(?) business. I am not spoiling this one. Miles cousin Ivan... not, he had not fallen head over hills in love. He took much more pragmatic approach to wooing women and in this case he decided to go for somebody much older than him. To make a long story short he got such a nasty shock that I really felt pity for him. As you can figure out from the last paragraphs everybody fell in love with everybody - I do mean practically all named characters with exceptions of the ones being already happily married. This is just one reason why this book firmly qualifies as romance. Let the mention other present tropes of the genre. 1. Adults old enough to have grandchildren act like 14-year-old teenagers with hormone overload. 2. People in love with each other themselves create countless obstacles not to be together. 3. People behaving out of character - this can actually follow from #1 and #2. 4. A huge crowd on men falling all over each other to propose marriage to a beautiful, but poor woman. Just to illustrate some points: imagine the following. Your sister is in love with a son of the second most powerful man of the Empire. The said son also happened to be none other than a foster brother of the Emperor himself and is the first in line for the throne in case the Emperor dies without any children. You hear some nasty rumor about your sister's suitor. What would you do? For the answer look at out own history: you remove anything and anybody who happens to be in your sister's way and yes, an assassination is a fair game here. Do I need to say this is exactly what NOT happened here? My buddy readers always say they would like to be Cordelia when they grow up. I could not - being of the wrong sex, but I agreed. I was completely disappointed in her here. She turns out to be a bad mother for Miles. What happened to a woman who practically suppressed a rebellion by her lonely self to save her son? Her own son and Mark had almost the same problem. Her actions? She went out of her way to use her authority on Mark's sweetheart parents to bully them into accepting their future son-in-law. Miles got scolding for his actions and was left to deal with his problem himself with not even "you have my support son". Miles could had gotten this much help and possibly even more from a perfect stranger on the street. Let me use this occasion and say the following to my own mother, "Mom, you are the greatest. No matter how bad things are I always know you will always support me". Ekaterin is exactly not the woman for Miles. Please do not get me wrong she is realistic and I can feel all her pain she endured, but Miles needs something less timid. He does not need to be domesticated; he needs somebody who can shoot and hit the target: his life is often in danger. I can practically see the direction it goes: overweight Miles laying on a sofa switching TV channels with a remote (or whatever they use in place of TV in the future) and Ekatherin nagging at him for not taking out the trash. Sounds exciting, is not it? Once again I need to emphasize the only real failing the book had is my expectations. It was an easy read, never boring and often funny. So it is all my fault. Really. 3 stars is still a good rating, honest.

  2. 5 out of 5

    André

    Alternate titles for this book: -Let's Get All the Koudelka Girls Married -Everyone is Very Excited about Bug Vomit -Ivan and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day -Seriously How Has a Patriarchal Society with Men Like THIS in Charge Survived So Long? -Oh Right it's Because the Women Actually Control Everything -Miles You Dweeb I think I'm going to reread this book whenever I get sad and my life will improve 5000% Alternate titles for this book: -Let's Get All the Koudelka Girls Married -Everyone is Very Excited about Bug Vomit -Ivan and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day -Seriously How Has a Patriarchal Society with Men Like THIS in Charge Survived So Long? -Oh Right it's Because the Women Actually Control Everything -Miles You Dweeb I think I'm going to reread this book whenever I get sad and my life will improve 5000%

  3. 4 out of 5

    Choko

    *** 4.85 *** A buddy read with Evgeny and Maria because we love Science Fiction and Miles!!! "...“Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself.... The friction tends to arise when the two are not the same....There is no more hollow feeling than to stand with your honor shattered at your feet while soaring public reputation wraps you in rewards. That's soul destroying. The other way around is merely very, very irritating. ... Guard your honor. Let your re *** 4.85 *** A buddy read with Evgeny and Maria because we love Science Fiction and Miles!!! "...“Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself.... The friction tends to arise when the two are not the same....There is no more hollow feeling than to stand with your honor shattered at your feet while soaring public reputation wraps you in rewards. That's soul destroying. The other way around is merely very, very irritating. ... Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards.” ..." If you expect a typical Sci-fi adventure or one more reminiscent of the early books in the series, you will be disappointed. However, if you enjoy Romantic Comedies on the backdrop of political intrigues with some slapstick pie-in-the-face distractions on the side, this is the perfect book for you. For me, involving Miles Vorkosigan and his family in the middle of all the madness is a formula for optimal enjoyment!!! Miles is in love, and this is LOVE, not just infatuation. Miles does everything loud and grand, so no wonder this situation turns into a national crisis. As the fans of the series know, our little in stature guy has not lacked in female companionship since he created his Admiral Naismith persona, and he has dated some remarkable women. But there was always the problem that those women were in love with Admiral Naismith, not Miles Vorkosigan, the Lord of a Berryarren district and second in line for the throne of that backwards world. Not one of those remarkable and gloriously independent women wanted to get stuck in the rigidly traditional Planet on which women were still looked upon as secondary citizens and wives were just procreation blood bags with utureses. Once Miles was grounded and gainfully employed Planetside, he had to come to terms with needing a wife who would not mind playing the Lord's wife and have similar upbringing in order to be able to function in his country and culture. Well, he met the perfect woman in the previous book but the circumstances were unfavorable for him to approach her in that manner, mainly she just lost her husband under some horrible conditions, and the young widow and her son needed time to learn to cope with their new reality. The other issue Miles recognized is that he had never had to court his ex girlfriends. More or less, they always found and won him over. So now he is faced with his first attempt at attracting a woman who might also have other suitors and he has no idea how to go about it. However, Miles knows how to go at a military campaign and takes his extensive experience as a blueprint. Thus we get the "Civil Campaign" to attack and Conquer himself a wife!!! "...“Not that I haven't leaped up into the blinding light of competence now and then. It's sustaining the altitude that defeats me.” ..." All of this happens amidst ​the preparations of the Emperor Gregor's marriage and love is in the air, spreading like a contagious virus. It feels like everyone is in love and planning on making it forever. Mark, an intelligence officer and a newly minted Vor man are all looking forward to possibly becoming related by marring 3 Koudelka sisters, to the overwhelming horror of the girls parents. Mark Vorkosigan has also decided to get rich by investing in the edible bi-product of some very interesting insects 😁😁😁! Miles and family are wonderful, bigger than life, passionate, charismatic, funny, smart, and overall lovable misfits who shameless​ly pander for our affections and we can't help but love them!!! All this charm and hilarity steal your heart and even if you are not a fan of romantic comedies these sharp characters will win you over for the cause. "...“You don't pay back your parents. You can't. The debt you owe them gets collected by your children, who hand it down in turn. It's a sort of entailment. Or if you don't have children of the body, it's left as a debt to your common humanity. Or to your God, if you possess or are possessed by one. The family economy evades calculation in the gross planetary product. It's the only deal I know where, when you give more than you get, you aren't bankrupted - but rather, vastly enriched.” ..." I laughed my behind off reading this mish-mash of plotlines and family affairs. All I can say is, READ IT!!!! IT WOULD BRING A SMILE TO EVEN THE CLOUDIEST OF TIMES!!! I wish you all Happy Reading and may you always find what you need in the pages of a Good book!!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This has to be my favorite of the Miles Vorkosigan books, and considering how much I love *all* of them, that's saying something. Bujold dedicates this book to "Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, and Dorothy"--Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Georgette Heyer, and Dorothy Sayers. The Grandes Dames of women writers. Here you will not find the covert ops rescue missions or epic space battles of Mile's past. Instead, he's facing something much, MUCH harder: dealing with real, domestic life. Like trying to co This has to be my favorite of the Miles Vorkosigan books, and considering how much I love *all* of them, that's saying something. Bujold dedicates this book to "Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, and Dorothy"--Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Georgette Heyer, and Dorothy Sayers. The Grandes Dames of women writers. Here you will not find the covert ops rescue missions or epic space battles of Mile's past. Instead, he's facing something much, MUCH harder: dealing with real, domestic life. Like trying to court the woman of your dreams, when your experience with courtship has been limited largely to, well, *military* campaigns. Or attempting, for the first time, to entertain friends and guests in your own, actual identity instead of a cover identity. Or trying to get one of your closest friends (who also happens to be the Emperor) through the grueling prenuptial events, and all the while juggling politics you hadn't anticipated dealing with until, well, you were *old*. Miles being Miles, he meets all of it with his usual flair and aplomb, succeeding brilliantly at some things and failing spectacularly (as he does all things spectacularly) in others. This is a laugh-out-loud book, with more than enough genuinely touching emotion in it to make you sorry these people aren't real, and your neighbors. Life would surely be more fun if they were...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maria Dimitrova

    Buddy read with Choko and Evgeny. Romantic Comedy the Vorkosigans' style! This is probably the most hilarious book in the entire series but if you were looking for the space opera style of the earlier books you'll be disappointed. In the two previous books Miles moved to a new stage in his life and this is a natural result of it. But don't be afraid - this is more of an interlude, a breather between the heavier stuff. That being said there were still some pretty interesting social and economical Buddy read with Choko and Evgeny. Romantic Comedy the Vorkosigans' style! This is probably the most hilarious book in the entire series but if you were looking for the space opera style of the earlier books you'll be disappointed. In the two previous books Miles moved to a new stage in his life and this is a natural result of it. But don't be afraid - this is more of an interlude, a breather between the heavier stuff. That being said there were still some pretty interesting social and economical problems smuggled into the pure madness that is Vorbarr Sultana on the eve of the Emperor's wedding. One is a pretty hot topic in today's society - gender identity, though here it's represented in a much funnier and lighter way. Another is women's emancipation and the pressure patriarchal society puts on women to fit in. This has a flip side as Mark's plight shows. In this case he, a male, is also a victim of tradition and on top of that has to deal with the stigma of suffering from a mental illness. It's all very thought provoking and yet dished out in a way that doesn't make you tense up and close up in a defensive ball. And this is something that today's activist should take a note on.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    I couldn't resist picking up this novel right after finishing Komarr. I'm glad that I read it while the details of Komarr were still crystal clear in my head. These two books remind me a lot of Sharon Lee & Steve Miller's Liadin Universe series. They have investigations and political intrigue, of course, but they also have a good solid love story at their core. Can Miles Vorkosigan convince Ekaterin Vorsoisson to become Lady Vorkosigan? Ekaterin wondered at one point why he wasn't being pursued b I couldn't resist picking up this novel right after finishing Komarr. I'm glad that I read it while the details of Komarr were still crystal clear in my head. These two books remind me a lot of Sharon Lee & Steve Miller's Liadin Universe series. They have investigations and political intrigue, of course, but they also have a good solid love story at their core. Can Miles Vorkosigan convince Ekaterin Vorsoisson to become Lady Vorkosigan? Ekaterin wondered at one point why he wasn't being pursued by Barrayaran women. After all, he could charm nine year old boys out of locked bathrooms and Komarran terrorists out of a hostage situation. She is impressed, but very recently widowed and before that had been preparing to leave an emotionally abusive husband. It's hard to trust your relationship instincts after something like that. Of course Miles blabs too much, but not to Ekaterin, leading to a farcical scene at a dinner party which he hosts. No one likes to feel manipulated, especially after surviving a controlling husband, and Miles realizes too late that he has possibly torpedoed his chances at wedded bliss. I think the turning point seems to be Simon Illyan's observation to Ekaterin that Miles' genius is choosing personnel. He tells her that if Miles has chosen her for the role of Lady Vorkosigan, it is probably has an excellent chance of success. The lady seems to have similar feelings, and when others attack Miles, she has a strong reaction. I also enjoyed her son Nikki's solution to his relatives' attempt to remove him from his mother's care. Talk about using a missile to swat a mosquito! Time to move on to other series, but have no doubt that I will return to the Vorkosigan universe soon! Book number 388 of my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project. Cross posted at my blog: https://wanda-thenextfifty.blogspot.c...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Clouds

    Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my FINISHING THE SERIES! list. I loves me a good series! But I'm terrible for starting a new series before finishing my last - so this reading list is all about trying to close out those series I've got on the go. Oh, Countess Bujold, you spoil us. There are t Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my FINISHING THE SERIES! list. I loves me a good series! But I'm terrible for starting a new series before finishing my last - so this reading list is all about trying to close out those series I've got on the go. Oh, Countess Bujold, you spoil us. There are three BIG series (10+ books) which I adore: Discworld, the Dresden Files and, the most recent addition to that illustrious club, the Vorkosigan Saga. I discovered the Vorkosigan Saga as part of my quest to read every significant sci-fi award winner, and thinking about it, that’s kind of surprising. Sci-fi awards often go to radical, edgy, unusual books – but that’s not the kind of sci-fi Bujold writes. Sure, the series features spaceships and other high-tech accoutrements, but they’re never the focal point. This is accessible, comfortable, pleasure reading – not high-concept award fodder. Bujold’s is really, really good with characters. The comparison that’s jumping to mind isn’t quite right – but she writes a bit like Joss Wheedon (the TV writer who created Buffy/Angel, Dollhouse & Firefly). Her cast are instantly and lastingly likeable. Some people may love Cordelia more, my wife is little bit in love with Miles – my own personal favourite is Marc – but all the characters make an impression on your heart. They’re rounded, flawed, motivated, conflicted... and strong! And damn, the woman can weave a plot! It’s never too complex to confuse, but there’s always enough elements in play to keep it fresh and unpredictable. The more I read of her work the more I admire her methods. Yes, she’s a sci-fi writer, but she’s a natural storyteller who could work in any genre she pleased. My favourite sci-fi writers are guys like Simmons and Stephenson – they’re looking to blow your mind and rebuild it with a new outlook. Aunty Bujold just wants you to snuggle up with a blanket by the fire and get lost in a good book. Nothing fancy, just solid as a rock storytelling and a rollicking good read. A Civil Campaign is a romance! A romance, I say! And I say it again because I never read romance novels. It's not an overly soppy romance, but (to coin Friends’ phraseology) “The One Where Miles Gets The Girl”. It's funny. If you’ve never read any of the series, Miles is this hyperactive little ex-super-spy, who is son of a military legend and best mates with the Emperor. As his mercenary under-cover alter-ego, he had a string of wild lovers, none of whom were suitable (or interested) in coming back to his backwards home planet to become the next Lady Vorksigan. But, in the previous book ( Komarr ) Miles met the recently widowed and rather fantastic Ekatarin. She’s just come out of a rather horrible marriage and isn’t at all interested in romance, so Miles is playing it slowly... but competition rather forces his hand. Plus, Marc’s back from Beta! Marc is Miles’ brother (with a ‘black-gang’ of semi-autonomous personalities). As I said, he’s my fave so having him back made me happy, and his new business venture (genetically engineered butter spewing bugs) provides a constant thorn in the side for any kind of smooth sailing that anyone attempts. The story occurs in the run-up to the Emperor’s wedding, so it’s very much ‘love is in the air’. But it’s made interesting and convoluted, because Miles has been ensnared in a couple of complex inheritance cases. And the dinner party scene is just perfect. Really - you have to read it to understand! So why not five stars for this one? Obviously, there’s no room in Miles’ civilian life for all his old mercenary buddies – so Bujold needs to put some time into developing his new Barrayar-based social life. There’s a new crowd being introduced (or at least fleshed out from prev introductions) – and none of these new characters quite wowed me, so their contribution to A Civil Campaign let the side down in pursuit of that final star from me. Harsh, but honest. After this I read: Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caro the Helmet Lady

    Drum roll.... Aaaaand.... Jaaaaaane Austeeeeeeen... in spaaaaaaaaace!!!! No, seriously, I wasn't expecting rockets and blasters from this one, it would be quite silly when one sees a cover like this, when there's basically prince William and Kate on it (how prophetic), but I still hoped for an itsy bitsy spacish operish something... Instead I got Sense and Sensibility a lot of gossiping, a lot of insight into Barayar succession law, a lot of intrigue, most of it to make our Perfect Poor Honest Wido Drum roll.... Aaaaand.... Jaaaaaane Austeeeeeeen... in spaaaaaaaaace!!!! No, seriously, I wasn't expecting rockets and blasters from this one, it would be quite silly when one sees a cover like this, when there's basically prince William and Kate on it (how prophetic), but I still hoped for an itsy bitsy spacish operish something... Instead I got Sense and Sensibility a lot of gossiping, a lot of insight into Barayar succession law, a lot of intrigue, most of it to make our Perfect Poor Honest Widow unhappy, a lot of bug vomit, a lot of Koudelkas in all sizes and colours, some Lady Cordelia Vorkosigan Is Always Right moments and a lot of admiration from everyone for mr Darcy Ekaterin. I'm pretty sure I missed some stuff, but you can find it for yourself, especially if you're a hardcore fan of the series you will just do it. Personally I had a very and I mean VERY mixed feelings about it all. This was not what I liked in Miles Vorkosigan series. Not what I expected even though the cover yelled at me. But maybe it's corona-magic, maybe it's just me being a slave to my soap - I ended up enjoying it. Not loving, but had some genuine fun and switched my thoughts off the doomsday. Because in the end it was still a story about our hyperactive and slightly obnoxious Lizzie Bennet. I mean - Miles Vorkosigan. The Ugly Cover Gallery!!! How could I forget! - just no. - she's not getting married to Igor, come on. Una campaña civil - Hansel and Gretel I kid you not.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    The Miles Vorkosigan series is one of the best in science fiction. This is not "hard" science fiction, though...so don't expect scientifically accurate explanations of faster than light travel. There are also no aliens in this universe, only genetically altered strains of human beings. Miles is a unique hero in that he is a "little person", a dwarf. His physical body was damaged in-utero by a poison gas attack on his mother, a countess, during a revolutionary war on his home planet of Barrayar. Mi The Miles Vorkosigan series is one of the best in science fiction. This is not "hard" science fiction, though...so don't expect scientifically accurate explanations of faster than light travel. There are also no aliens in this universe, only genetically altered strains of human beings. Miles is a unique hero in that he is a "little person", a dwarf. His physical body was damaged in-utero by a poison gas attack on his mother, a countess, during a revolutionary war on his home planet of Barrayar. Miles wears many hats throughout this excellent series of books: Mercenary commander, spy, diplomat, and detective. In this one, he wears a new hat: that of a love-struck romeo. In the previous book, called "Komarr", Miles met and fell in love with Ekaterin Vorsoisson, a recent widow. In this book, Miles sets out to win the heart of Ekaterin by any means necessary. He treats it like a military mission, which ends up exploding in his face. Subplots abound with Mile's brother Mark also trying to win the love of his life, a woman surgically changing her gender in order to become a member of the ruling council of counts, and a very amusing subplot involving creatures called "butter bugs". This book is full of good humor about falling in love and how screwed up the whole process of getting together is. Often, it is our own insecurities and hang ups that get in our way, as well as society's concept of what is proper and what isn't. Love isn't easy or simple, but it's worth fighting for. That's pretty much the theme of the book. The good thing about the Miles Vorkosigan series is that it's pretty much standalone, so you can read a book, leave the series for a couple of other good reads, and then return to read the next book in the series. The books of the series, in their chronological order, can be found here. I suggest you start with "Shards of Honor". If you're looking for some hard scientific sci-fi, then I don't think this will be your cup of tea. If you're looking for literate science fiction with intriguing characters, you can't go wrong with Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    This was so good; better than I had expected. From the description it sounded like this was going to be sort of a romance with comedic undertones, which isn't necessarily my thing. Turns out there is all the usual serious complexity these books normally have and with the same apt doses of humour I've come to expect. Once again, the various characters both old and new absolutely shine. Bujold has such an exceptional talent for bringing them to life and engaging the reader in the most thorough way This was so good; better than I had expected. From the description it sounded like this was going to be sort of a romance with comedic undertones, which isn't necessarily my thing. Turns out there is all the usual serious complexity these books normally have and with the same apt doses of humour I've come to expect. Once again, the various characters both old and new absolutely shine. Bujold has such an exceptional talent for bringing them to life and engaging the reader in the most thorough way possible. Notes on the audiobooks: Narrator Grover Garder delivers the story in just the right wry and ironic tone, and continues to make this series one of my favourites on audio ever.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lis Carey

    Did you think that Miles was the definitive example of how far the Vor will go to be Vor? You were wrong. Someone else has Miles beat by, um, miles. But that's okay; Miles, as usual, has his own problems. There's his brother Mark's new business venture, which involves some rather unattractive bugs, currently stashed in an old laundry room in Vorkosigan House. There's convincing Ekaterin that the fact that she made a mistake in marrying Tien at twenty doesn't mean that she's forever incapable of Did you think that Miles was the definitive example of how far the Vor will go to be Vor? You were wrong. Someone else has Miles beat by, um, miles. But that's okay; Miles, as usual, has his own problems. There's his brother Mark's new business venture, which involves some rather unattractive bugs, currently stashed in an old laundry room in Vorkosigan House. There's convincing Ekaterin that the fact that she made a mistake in marrying Tien at twenty doesn't mean that she's forever incapable of making good marital choices. There's convincing Ekaterin that he's not trying to manipulate her, which is tough, because he is. He's Miles, after all; it's easier for him to skip breathing for a few days than to skip manipulating people for a similar period. There's Miles' old friend Count René Vorbretten, whose unfortunate and previously unsuspected Cetagandan ancestry is endangering his possession of the countship--and risks turning that vote in the Council of Counts over to the Conservative Party. There's the rumors going around that Miles murdered Ekaterin's first husband. There's the other countship that's in dispute, with one of the putative heirs trying to blackmail Miles to force the Vorkosigans to support him when the Council of Counts votes on who's the real Count. There's the most disastrous dinner party in, possibly, the history of Barrayar. (Well, perhaps not. Nobody dies, after all. It's just that some people wish they had.) And he can't even run away to be Admiral Naismith anymore. Aside from the fact that Admiral Naismith is dead and everyone knows it, his uniform doesn't even fit anymore. No one has time to give him any sympathy; everyone has their own problems. Ekaterin has persistent unwanted suitors, and annoyingly helpful relatives and in-laws. Mark has his business partner Enrique, and his on-again off-again romance with Kareen Koudelka, and Kou and Drou's reaction when they find out. Ivan has been formally assigned as an aide to Lady Alys, while she manages the arrangements for Gregor and Laisa's wedding. And then there's the startling discovery he's made about his old love, Lady Donna Vorrutyer... Great fun. And I don't recommend that you annoy any Lady Vorkosigan, present or future; it seems to be bad for your career prospects.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Part of a Vorkosigan reread with the SpecFic Buddy Reads group in 2017/18. This has long been my favorite of the Vorkosigan series, and it's nice to see that it still holds up on rereading. Miles is back from Komarr with a new goal: to win Ekaterin Vorsoisson. And being Miles he establishes a grand strategy to conquer all before him in the pursuit of his goal. But this is Miles as Lord Vorkosigan, Lord Auditor and sitting proxy for Count Vorkosigan while his father is Viceroy of Sergyar. Everythi Part of a Vorkosigan reread with the SpecFic Buddy Reads group in 2017/18. This has long been my favorite of the Vorkosigan series, and it's nice to see that it still holds up on rereading. Miles is back from Komarr with a new goal: to win Ekaterin Vorsoisson. And being Miles he establishes a grand strategy to conquer all before him in the pursuit of his goal. But this is Miles as Lord Vorkosigan, Lord Auditor and sitting proxy for Count Vorkosigan while his father is Viceroy of Sergyar. Everything he does is political, and it's a time of political upheaval on Barrayar with the wedding of Emperor Gregor imminent and the effects of Galactic technology and social mores on Barrayaran society being felt all over the place. This is an odd book in a series that has been predominantly an adventure SF series that explores the effects of technology on societies. This one leans in hard on the latter themes but structures it mostly as a romantic comedy from many more viewpoints than previous books. We get Miles and Ekaterin as in the previous one, but we also get Ivan Vorpatril, Lord Mark Vorkosigan and Kareen Koudelka. Barrrayar is an interesting place, a society that has transformed from a feudal barely-surviving human colony through a brutal military occupation to a military-dominated fledgling empire which is integrating itself into the wider galactic society. But that integration comes with access to things like Betan bio- and reproductive- technology and the social upheaval that those things bring. This book looks at the generation immediately after those things have become available and looks at the changes that have already happened, are still happening, and still to come. With the recent attention to transgender rights in the US and elsewhere, and the looming possibility of re-regulation of reproductive technologies in the US, this all feels very relevant. Yes, some of the attitudes are dated. The book is 20 years old. It's still remarkably relevant, both as an allegory for the societal change brought about with the introduction of the female contraceptive pill and for modern society.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    It's amazing that such a long running series can keep such momentum, even get so much better. This story is a culmination of some wonderfully sketched characters throughout with dollops of history brought round for leavening. The Vorkosigans & all their friends & enemies are at their best in this somewhat convoluted tale. We know that both Miles & Mark have a propensity for trouble, but with both of them in the same house at the same time on the eve of the Imperial wedding, the mixture was froth It's amazing that such a long running series can keep such momentum, even get so much better. This story is a culmination of some wonderfully sketched characters throughout with dollops of history brought round for leavening. The Vorkosigans & all their friends & enemies are at their best in this somewhat convoluted tale. We know that both Miles & Mark have a propensity for trouble, but with both of them in the same house at the same time on the eve of the Imperial wedding, the mixture was frothing away, exploding at random, & drenching innocent bystanders all over the planet. I listened to this as an audio book in every second I possibly could spare & a few I couldn't. My wife told me I seemed demented as Miles as I knitted, mowed the lawn, or weeded the gardens, chortling & hooting as the story unfolded. She was quite concerned during one particularly memorable passage - the least boring dinner party I've ever had the pleasure to attend. (OK, I wasn't really there, but it sure seemed as if I was the proverbial fly on the wall & it was a rare treat.) Unfortunately, my wife thought I was having some sort of seizure & I suddenly realized she was bent over me with real concern on her face. Ah, that uncomfortable feeling when you come out of a book & realize the rest of the world hasn't shared the experience... The only complaint - if complaint it is - that I had was Bujold's propensity for ending chapters on a cliff hanger & starting the next in a completely different setting. It was quite wrenching, but I'd soon be immersed in the new setting & eventually I'd get back to finish up where I'd left off. I was happy to, even though I really wanted to know how the other situation finished up. As entertaining as this was, Bujold also managed to include some very sage examples for life. Yes, we made bad choices at times & managed to live through them. We are what we've made of ourselves. If things had worked out differently, we wouldn't be the people we are now & if you're happy with that, there is no time nor reason for regret. How true. On to the next! Winterfair Gifts, a short story.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sineala

    This is an unpopular opinion, I know, I'm sorry, but this is my least favorite Vorkosigan book. If the dedication (to Austen, Brontë, Heyer and Sayers) hadn't clued you in, this is, more or less, a romance. A comedy of manners, if you will. It's not a common genre for mainstream SF, and Bujold pulls it off perfectly and clearly with a lot of love. It is, however, not a genre I am fond of. Basically, Miles is in love with Ekaterin, and everyone in Vorbarr Sultana knows this... except Ekaterin. So h This is an unpopular opinion, I know, I'm sorry, but this is my least favorite Vorkosigan book. If the dedication (to Austen, Brontë, Heyer and Sayers) hadn't clued you in, this is, more or less, a romance. A comedy of manners, if you will. It's not a common genre for mainstream SF, and Bujold pulls it off perfectly and clearly with a lot of love. It is, however, not a genre I am fond of. Basically, Miles is in love with Ekaterin, and everyone in Vorbarr Sultana knows this... except Ekaterin. So he has to figure out how to court her, secretly, while dealing with thorny political problems, the emperor's impending wedding, and his brother Mark's zany business schemes involving edible insect vomit. Sounds good, right? All of these things come to a head at pretty much the same time in a very memorable dinner scene. I gather that many many readers love this book and that scene and so on and so forth. My problem is that I have a squick for sympathetic embarrassment, as we say. So I spend the entire scene thinking OH GOD NO THIS ISN'T HAPPENING WHEN IS THIS BOOK OVER and flipping pages frantically. And then it happens again. And again. And clearly the comic scenes involving the butterbugs are supposed to be hilarious and I'm not supposed to be over here hiding my face in distress. So I'm sorry, really, that I can't appreciate the book on the level it wants to be appreciated at. It's not you, it's me? There are a bunch of things I do actually enjoy, like Gregor and Nikki, and now I think I adore Byerly Vorrutyer. And Ekaterin continues to be an awesome character. It's just that a lot of the intended high points of the book are scenes that make me cringe. I am positive other people will love it, though.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    This one is easily one of my favorites, but mainly because I'm a lousy sucker for comedies and romance. The whole mess of the book was so delicious that I had to read it in one sitting, laughing out loud, and generally making a disturbance of myself. I am unrepentant. Marriage in fiction can be a wonderful thing, and while the actual marriage in question doesn't actually occur in this novel, the pertinent requisites were more than enough to amuse and have me on the floor. This one is easily one of my favorites, but mainly because I'm a lousy sucker for comedies and romance. The whole mess of the book was so delicious that I had to read it in one sitting, laughing out loud, and generally making a disturbance of myself. I am unrepentant. Marriage in fiction can be a wonderful thing, and while the actual marriage in question doesn't actually occur in this novel, the pertinent requisites were more than enough to amuse and have me on the floor.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    SFR Reading Challenge 2012 Grade A+ Miles is in love! Unfortunately, he seems fairly inept at wooing the object of his affection. Miles met Ekaterin on the planet Komarr (and in the book Komarr) when he went to investigate an accident involving a solar mirror. Ekaterin is widowed during that time and returns to Barayar with her young son. Miles plots a campaign to win her heart and beat out all the other eligible men who are soon showing up on Ekaterin's doorstep. Woven seemlessly into the courtsh SFR Reading Challenge 2012 Grade A+ Miles is in love! Unfortunately, he seems fairly inept at wooing the object of his affection. Miles met Ekaterin on the planet Komarr (and in the book Komarr) when he went to investigate an accident involving a solar mirror. Ekaterin is widowed during that time and returns to Barayar with her young son. Miles plots a campaign to win her heart and beat out all the other eligible men who are soon showing up on Ekaterin's doorstep. Woven seemlessly into the courtship of Miles and Ekaterin are several other story lines involving love, honor, political intrigue and Butter Bugs. Bujold must have had fun writing this book, and I certainly had fun reading it. The dinner scene alone is worth the price of admission. The many characters are so well drawn, even the secondary characters. Bujold writes great characters, even the ones you want to throttle. Of course at several points in this book you may want to throttle Miles, but at other times his love for Ekaterin will warm your heart. While this book can stand alone, in my opinion it would lose some impact if you don't know the back story on the characters, especially Miles and Ekaterin. It also helps to know who Mark is (Miles' clone) and some of the history and social structure of Barayar and the other planets. I've listened to or read Shards of Honour (where Miles' parents meet--fabulous book), The Warrior's Apprentice (the first book in the series about Miles), The Vor Game, and the above mentioned Komarr. I highly recommended all the books and I plan to read more.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Trike

    This comedy of manners was delightful fun. The blend of physical slapstick, political intrigue and humorous dialogue was perfectly balanced, like a well-engineered machine. There are so many moving parts that it’s impossible to briefly sum up what happens in the story, as each plot thread twists and tangles with the others. This is really Part Two of the story which began in Komarr, and it works best when read that way. I assume the next book will be an immediate continuation of the story, based This comedy of manners was delightful fun. The blend of physical slapstick, political intrigue and humorous dialogue was perfectly balanced, like a well-engineered machine. There are so many moving parts that it’s impossible to briefly sum up what happens in the story, as each plot thread twists and tangles with the others. This is really Part Two of the story which began in Komarr, and it works best when read that way. I assume the next book will be an immediate continuation of the story, based on all the things Bujold has set up here. The main story is nicely wrapped up, but there are clearly plot threads which can continue. Plus, of course, there are always space pirates and political infighting to liven things up, as well. There was one aspect which resonates particularly well currently: the disenfranchisement of women. This is something that is powered by religious extremists on the far right and is sweeping across states. Steadily, and with increasing speed, the rights of women are being eroded. In some cases, as with Kay Ivey, governor of Alabama, it’s inexplicably supported by women. Apparently they don’t see the looming dystopia they are helping to usher in, shades of The Handmaid's Tale. In Bujold’s universe, women are likewise second-class citizens on some planets. However, advanced technology being what it is, one of the women goes offworld to have complete gender reassignment treatment, thus throwing a monkey wrench into the works of Barrayar’s political system. Hijinks ensue.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lost Planet Airman

    A Civil Campaign: A nice little change from the space opera and super-sci-fi-ness of some of the previous Vorkosiverse books. Miles has returned home to Barrayar between missions as Imperial Auditor, and with only mundane distractions to occupy him, becomes over-concerned with his attraction to the young widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson. Kat is attracted to Miles as well, but past experience, Barrayaran mores, and reforming her life all lead her to practical desire to avoid romance. In usual Miles fash A Civil Campaign: A nice little change from the space opera and super-sci-fi-ness of some of the previous Vorkosiverse books. Miles has returned home to Barrayar between missions as Imperial Auditor, and with only mundane distractions to occupy him, becomes over-concerned with his attraction to the young widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson. Kat is attracted to Miles as well, but past experience, Barrayaran mores, and reforming her life all lead her to practical desire to avoid romance. In usual Miles fashion, his non-romance romancing becomes blown out of proportion. Meanwhile, Mark Vorkosigan returns during a break in business school with a bioengineering get-rich-quick scheme. Can his girlfriend help him manage scheme and life and parents without them losing each other? Thrown into the mix are lifelong fop Ivan, the pending nuptials of their Emperor and friend Gregor, and two looming crises in government caused by gender issues -- a transgender inheritor to a Vor lordship, and another lord attempting to increase his estate by fathering 80 children with the advanced reproductive technology of the “uterine replicators”. I liked the change of pace, away from space battles and Galactic politics and toward intrigue at the personal and Vor-lord levels, the slow growth of Mark as more than the offshoot-of-a-secret-plot, and the time with other characters.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ferret

    The first time I read it, I liked it. Then I read Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice and returned to it and found to my surprise and pleasure that Bujold had consciously and cleverly incorporated parts of those plots here. Then I read Gaudy Night and all the pieces fit together and I saw that Bujold was celebrating the discovery of love in ways that were newer and excitinger because they built on history. The first time I read it, I liked it. Then I read Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice and returned to it and found to my surprise and pleasure that Bujold had consciously and cleverly incorporated parts of those plots here. Then I read Gaudy Night and all the pieces fit together and I saw that Bujold was celebrating the discovery of love in ways that were newer and excitinger because they built on history.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    Originally posted at FanLit: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi... 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 Originally posted at FanLit: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi... 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.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    Five or Six separate plot lines juggled perfectly and one of the funnest scenes I have ever read. Wonderful book. The entire series is worth reading for this one alone.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    Pride and Prejudice for Miles Vorkosigan Fans This one is for the fans. If you've followed the many adventures of Miles Vorkosigan, Ivan Vorpatril, Emperor Gregor, and Ekaterin in Komarr, you'll understand all the intricate character details and background that give this story the proper context to enjoy it. If you just read it on its own, be prepared for a lengthly series of comic romantic mishaps among Miles and his friends. It really doesn't feature any space adventure or substantial political Pride and Prejudice for Miles Vorkosigan Fans This one is for the fans. If you've followed the many adventures of Miles Vorkosigan, Ivan Vorpatril, Emperor Gregor, and Ekaterin in Komarr, you'll understand all the intricate character details and background that give this story the proper context to enjoy it. If you just read it on its own, be prepared for a lengthly series of comic romantic mishaps among Miles and his friends. It really doesn't feature any space adventure or substantial political intrigue, and a major subplot involves butter bugs. But it's basically a fun reward to all the fans of Miles who wondered, "Is this manic guy every going to find the right woman for him?" Well, being Lois McMaster Bujold, she revels in intricate and humorously tangled love stories, but what I find quite annoying about most romances, whether in book or movie form, is that they require the characters to first be attracted to each other, fall in love, and then for no logical reason have a massive misunderstanding and blow-out that occupies the entire middle act and provides dramatic tension before eventually having the characters make up and live happily ever after as the credits roll. Of course A Civil Campaign is a better story than that, and some of the situations like Miles' dinner party are truly hilarious, but overall I found the story a bit too padded and contrived for my tastes. It is like a buffet of tasty treats that you can overindulge in and get sick of well before its time to head home. So while devoted fans will likely gobble it up, I'd recommend a more modest appetizer first like Shards of Honor or The Warrior's Apprentice first.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    **edited 02/01/14 Ever since I read The Warrior's Apprentice and fell in love with the Vorkosigan Saga, I've been told, "Just wait until you get to A Civil Campaign! Best Vorkosigan book ever...", etc. In some ways, I can see why.A Civil Campaign is light and fun; a romantic comedy much in line with the dedication (Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, Dorothy), with the added joy of butter-bugs gone wild (don't ask). But as it turned out, it wasn't one of my favourite books in the series, and it's taken m **edited 02/01/14 Ever since I read The Warrior's Apprentice and fell in love with the Vorkosigan Saga, I've been told, "Just wait until you get to A Civil Campaign! Best Vorkosigan book ever...", etc. In some ways, I can see why.A Civil Campaign is light and fun; a romantic comedy much in line with the dedication (Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, Dorothy), with the added joy of butter-bugs gone wild (don't ask). But as it turned out, it wasn't one of my favourite books in the series, and it's taken me a while to think about why. Part of the reason is the high baseline of Pure Vorkosigan Goodness; this book is competing with all-time favourites that dominate everything from Wodehouse-style comic misadventures (Brothers in Arms) to an intense examination of family and self (Mirror Dance) to my glorious starting point with Warrior's Apprentice. Long story short, in nominations for "Best Vorkosigan Book Ever," A Civil Campaign was up against some seriously tough competition. By the way, if you haven't encountered this series, put Warrior's Apprentice on your To-Read-ASAP list. You'll thank me later. ... Due to my disapproval of GR's new and highly subjective review deletion policy, I am no longer posting full reviews here. The rest of this review can be found on Booklikes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Freya Marske

    AN UTTER DELIGHT. It's nice to have such a perfect example to throw at people's heads if anyone ever asks 'what kinds of books do you aspire to write one day?' Hijinks, romance, trade, politics, more romance, MORE HIJINKS. And a food fight. AN UTTER DELIGHT. It's nice to have such a perfect example to throw at people's heads if anyone ever asks 'what kinds of books do you aspire to write one day?' Hijinks, romance, trade, politics, more romance, MORE HIJINKS. And a food fight.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    Most people I know who have read the Vorkosigan Saga consider this to be their favourite of the series so I had high expectations. The last book, Komarr, was basically a ‘meet cute’ between our series hero, Miles, and his new ladylove, Ekaterin. I was expecting A Civil Campaign to be a romance between the two with some sort of misunderstanding/conflict, maybe a touch of mystery for Miles to solve somewhere along the line before he wins the girl over completely.  Well… It is this story but quite Most people I know who have read the Vorkosigan Saga consider this to be their favourite of the series so I had high expectations. The last book, Komarr, was basically a ‘meet cute’ between our series hero, Miles, and his new ladylove, Ekaterin. I was expecting A Civil Campaign to be a romance between the two with some sort of misunderstanding/conflict, maybe a touch of mystery for Miles to solve somewhere along the line before he wins the girl over completely.  Well… It is this story but quite a bit more.  LMB dedicates the book to an impressive list - Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, and Dorothy.  I can draw some fascinating comparisons between A Civil Campaign and their works (well, the ones I’m most familiar with -- I admit to having never read Heyer). Actually, the fact that Miles and Ekaterin’s storyline is pretty much just a homage to Sayers’s Lord Peter and Harriet Vane (who are probably my favourite book couple evah) was probably the biggest reason I was swooning over this book, and Ekaterin and Miles’s scenes in particular. I feel like I need to write a thesis to explain how a couple in a scifi book, set on another planet and in the future, are almost exactly the same as a couple who solve mysteries in a series of novels set in England in the 1920s.  To keep it more brief though - Both Miles and Peter are considered less attractive than the women they’ve fallen for, leaving all and sundry to assume they’ve somehow used their peerage to trick their respective leading ladies into a relationship; Ekaterin and Harriet are both victims of domestic abuse where their past partners have not hit them but belittled them constantly; Miles and Peter are both mindful of the abuse and are incredibly honorable in wanting to fiercely protect Ekaterin and Harriet from slander and character assassination; instead of the typical alpha male protection though, Miles/Peter [perhaps unknowingly] give the girls a chance to recognise their inner strength and ability to fight misogyny and injustice in their own dignified and intelligent way; Miles/Peter’s wit and intelligence are what attracts these (outwardly seemingly) more attractive women; and, in the end, whilst Miles and Peter are plotting, it’s Ekaterin and Harriet who end up rescuing their beaus.  I can also see the similarities to Austen’s books. For starters, there’s a heavy focus on family and siblings.  Besides Miles’s rocky relationship with his clone brother, Mark, the familial plots feature Ekaterin’s brother and brother-in-law’s ‘helpful’ response to her association to Miles (very Sense and Sensibility-like), the four Koudelka sisters (the daughters of the second novel Barrayar’s Kou and Drou acting very Bennet and/or Dashwood sisters-like) , and Miles’s pseudo brothers Ivan and Gregor. She also, like Jane and Dorothy etc, added a healthy helping of hidden feminism. There is no weak Koudelka sister, physically or mentally. Strong independent women each one, a credit to their parents, which becomes the great irony of the plot as Kou, after raising these superwomen, forgets the independence he and his wife have nurtured for so long by attempting to stifle it. One of the best scenes in the book is my beloved Cordelia pointing out the error in his judgement when it comes to Mark’s relationship with one of his girl’s (Kareen). Kou’s cry that Cordelia isn’t fighting fair with the addition of an old couch is all sorts of hilarious for those who’ve read Barrayar . Seriously, LMB was on point with her humour throughout this book. There’s a whole wedding proposal going awry plot point which plays out during a dinner party which, without doubt, is probably the funniest thing I’ve ever read. I am not exaggerating when I say I laughed out loud and almost had tears streaming down my face at one stage. The book is worth reading for this scene alone. (And let me just mention - slight (view spoiler)[ - that the reason Ekaterin rejects Miles’s wedding proposal is almost identical to the reason Harriet rejects Peter in Sayers’s books.) (hide spoiler)] Besides the dinner party and couch scene, I felt like Cordelia and Aral need to be added to the great comedy duos of all time -- all their scenes are hilarious but I especially laughed at their reflections on meeting Ekaterin for the first time. There’s also Gregor’s straight faced delivery of one-liners, mostly in response to something Miles, Ivan, or Ekaterin’s son might have done. And there’s Ivan - full stop - hilarious - one of his closing scenes made me whoop with laughter (besides me yelling ‘I knew it!’). And I haven’t started on the butter bugs… (They’re difficult to explain, just read the thing. Or maybe a couple of the books prior to this one first. I don’t think this is one you can just pick up and understand all the humour etc without reading some of the others in the series.) Highly recommended obviously. Definitely a favourite. 5 out of 5

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    2021 reread: a reliable comfort-read, and my favorite of the Vorkosigan books. As others have noted, if you've somehow missed the series, don't start here! Half the fun is the familiar cast of characters: Cousin Ivan! Commodore Koudelka's Blonde Commandos! The formidable Countess Cordelia! And on and on, down to the black and white kittens who steal a scene or two. I found the sfnal technology elements well-integrated, here largely Beta Colony biotech stuff, but the continued adjustments of form 2021 reread: a reliable comfort-read, and my favorite of the Vorkosigan books. As others have noted, if you've somehow missed the series, don't start here! Half the fun is the familiar cast of characters: Cousin Ivan! Commodore Koudelka's Blonde Commandos! The formidable Countess Cordelia! And on and on, down to the black and white kittens who steal a scene or two. I found the sfnal technology elements well-integrated, here largely Beta Colony biotech stuff, but the continued adjustments of formerly-poor Barryar to Galactic standards & tech is well thought-out. Bujold is a truly remarkable writer, and this is perhaps her Crown Jewel. Miles's dinner party! SF/F's greatest and funniest such creation, and worthy of an English country manor of yore. As another reviewer noted, as funny as the best Wodehouse episodes, but with far better character development. The great Butter Bug Hunt! The Council of Counts contretemps is most satisfyingly resolved, and True Love conquers all. Really a remarkable confection, that I'm sure I'll return to again down the line. On my Desert-Island list of the 100 Best Ever.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laura (Kyahgirl)

    4/5; 4 stars; A- I recently re-read the very first books in the Vorkosigan Saga because I wanted to re-visit Cordelia and Aral but then I skipped towards the end of the series in preparation for finally getting caught up with the ones on my shelf and the latest coming out. I skipped to this one because I remember it being so very funny. Grover Gardner is an excellent narrator and he did a great job, as usual, on the variety of voices and acting out of the various scenes. This book has many hilari 4/5; 4 stars; A- I recently re-read the very first books in the Vorkosigan Saga because I wanted to re-visit Cordelia and Aral but then I skipped towards the end of the series in preparation for finally getting caught up with the ones on my shelf and the latest coming out. I skipped to this one because I remember it being so very funny. Grover Gardner is an excellent narrator and he did a great job, as usual, on the variety of voices and acting out of the various scenes. This book has many hilarious moments. Its also touching, and poignant and a bit mushy (in a reserved kind of way). I really enjoyed the main characters as well as all the political goings on in Vorbarr Sultana. This book is an outlier in terms of tone, compared to the rest of series, but it was a nice change after the intensity of the preceding books.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Megan Baxter

    Just imagine me giving a huge satisfied sigh right about now. That's what I was waiting for. More of that manic Miles energy. I've liked the couple of other Vorkosigan books I've read between The Warrior's Apprentice and A Civil Campaign, but they lacked a certain something that caught me about the first book. It's back in this one, and I couldn't be happier. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this de Just imagine me giving a huge satisfied sigh right about now. That's what I was waiting for. More of that manic Miles energy. I've liked the couple of other Vorkosigan books I've read between The Warrior's Apprentice and A Civil Campaign, but they lacked a certain something that caught me about the first book. It's back in this one, and I couldn't be happier. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kaa

    Well, I've finally found a Bujold book I enjoyed. The beginning was a bit slow, and I was not very impressed with Miles's attitude toward wooing Ekaterin, but once the story got to the hilariously disastrous dinner party it started to win me over. Once Miles got his head out of his ass, I found the various romantic plotlines much more enjoyable, and I was very entertained by all of the politicking and plotting. By the end, I was laughing out loud at some of the conversations and reveals. My one Well, I've finally found a Bujold book I enjoyed. The beginning was a bit slow, and I was not very impressed with Miles's attitude toward wooing Ekaterin, but once the story got to the hilariously disastrous dinner party it started to win me over. Once Miles got his head out of his ass, I found the various romantic plotlines much more enjoyable, and I was very entertained by all of the politicking and plotting. By the end, I was laughing out loud at some of the conversations and reveals. My one lasting reservation was that the story doesn't seem to have a very good understanding of gender identity or sexual orientation, but for me that was more annoying than actively aggravating.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andreea Daia

    Before I start my review I want to point out that, till this book, I thought that Ms. Bujold can do no wrong, so to speak (just check my other reviews of her books). I don't just like her writing style: I'm in LOVE with her technique. So this being said, for the last three days I've struggled to read this novel (I'm only 66% through) and, at this point, I'm almost ready to put it away and move to the next one, in hope of something more. So what went wrong and what went well? (And I'm sorry, but t Before I start my review I want to point out that, till this book, I thought that Ms. Bujold can do no wrong, so to speak (just check my other reviews of her books). I don't just like her writing style: I'm in LOVE with her technique. So this being said, for the last three days I've struggled to read this novel (I'm only 66% through) and, at this point, I'm almost ready to put it away and move to the next one, in hope of something more. So what went wrong and what went well? (And I'm sorry, but this is going to be longer than my usual reviews.) 1) There is a definite improvement in Ekaterin's character compared to Komarr, probably the only good thing I have to say about this novel other than the beautiful writing. Please don't take me wrong: I take my hat off to Ms. Bujold for attempting a rare deed in the SF and Fantasy genre: to show that mothers are true heroines whom most people take for granted. Unfortunately for that good intention, Ekaterin turned out dry, while the the "chemistry" (or the lack of) between her and Miles made me yawn. A Civil Campaign brings up a more interesting Ekaterin, though from what I read so far, I still cannot call this a romance: yes, we are told over and over how highly Miles thinks of Ekaterin, but there is no magnetism between them and, as a reader, I simply couldn't care less if they end up together or not. 2) If most of the previous books were occasionally funny, yet always built on a foundation of solid characters, solid plot, and heavy "messages" (without tuning the novels into a soapbox), this book is, for lack of a better word, juvenile (and I mean this with no disrespect to anyone who liked it). Granted, witless Ivan is still hilarious, but what happened the rest of the cast? We are supposed to deal with characters between 20 and 30+ years-old, yet with very little exceptions they demonstrate the maturity of a 12 years-old! I'm going to mention only one of Mark's lines - "Last word: I win." 3) Probably even more important than the previous note is the fact that there are serious inconsistencies between the assumptions of this story and the previous books. Do you remember in Komarr when Miles and Uncle Vorthys have no problem whatsoever in sharing every single detail of their governmental secret investigation with clearance-free Aunt Vorthys, with clearance-free Ekaterin, and not only clearance-free, but terrorist-friendly Tien? Or do you remember when Uncle Vorthys tells to clearance-free Ekaterin the story of the breakout from the Cetagandan prisoner of war camp, which if publicly revealed would have been considered an act of war toward Cetaganda? Because if you remember, you must understand why it bothered me to no end that all of the sudden in A Civil Campaign ImpSec can't release the details of the terrorist act from Komarr to the Council of Counts. Let me say this again: civilian Aunt Vorthys is in the need-to-know pool for that investigation (along with civilian Cordelia and civilian Ekaterin), but not the government of the country?! How did this problem even pass the beta readers? 4) I mentioned before the fact that, in my reading experience, Ms. Bujold does a spectacular job in not turning her books in a soapbox. Tolerance, responsibility, equality of the sexes, honor, and so on are always promoted, most often discretely if not downright surreptitiously. Regrettably A Civil Campaign deviates from that norm by delivering repeatedly explicit lectures on one topic only: promoting women's emancipation is always a great purpose, but here this is somehow distorted into equating it with the sexual exploration. Not that I have anything against sexual discovery; but shouldn't one's personal emancipation (and I talk about both men and women) be more about about education and discovering one's identity and limits than just sex? 5) Last Cordelia develops a serious case of parental favoritism (and questionable judgement), which in fact started in Mirror Dance: Mark can do no evil, while Miles always misbehaves (even when, in my opinion, he doesn't). Do you remember her little speech from Mirror Dance down these lines: my dear Mark, don't worry that because of you, your brother was killed - after all nobody asked him to take that suicide mission to save your sorry butt... (of course I would have killed him if he didn't save you). Well, in A Civil Campaign it gets worse! Cordelia tells Miles that it was wrong to offer the woman he loved her heart's desire (to design and create a native garden) because he did it to trap her. I would be the first one to say that it was wrong to do so if he found her her work mediocre or if he didn't care about it at all. But in Komarr he calls her work "lovely," a "serenity," "beautiful," and he declares that she has an "artist's eye" for designing gardens. So why, oh why would it be wrong to ask her to create for him something that he obviously thinks the world of? (And no, he doesn't know her well enough to ask her to work for free for him! That would be utterly disrespectful.) You see, I consider myself a moderate feminist, although probably the scholastic term for my beliefs is equality feminism or liberal feminism (the kind that promotes equality between men and women in all domains). This being said, not only that I don't find anything insulting with Miles's "strategy," I actually think it's what I would have done if I were in his shoes. Yet, here comes mother Cordelia, who slaps him for stealing Ekaterin's victory from her. How can that be, when in the previous book he thought that she is entitled to that victory? I know that this review is three paragraphs too long, but this novel fell so short of my (granted, very high) expectations. :(

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