by Lois McMaster Bujold
Opening line: “The big groundcar jerked to a stop centimeters from the vehicle in front of it, and Armsman Pym, driving, swore under his breath.”
Miles and Ekaterin Vorsoisson are both back on Barrayar after their adventures on Komarr. Miles, naturally, comes up with a plan to court Ekaterin despite her year of mourning. However, when any number of other people return to Barrayar as well, hilariously painful upsets ensue.
This book is awesome. Well, of course it is. All you have to do is read the dedication (“For Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, and Dorothy–long may they rule.”) to know that it’ll be good. And it is. Miles is great. Ekaterin is wonderful–I loved the fact that she’s very definitely not Elena or Elli or any of Miles’ old flames, but instead is very much herself. Ivan is awesome in an uncharacteristic way. Aral and Cordelia are wonderful as always.
And it’s really quite a funny book. I was practically in spasms over the dinner party scene, until the end when things turned a bit more serious (although still funny, in retrospect). The baba scene is also pretty great.
But it’s also a very heartfelt book. And in a way it serves the same purpose as Gaudy Night–to let us get to know Ekaterin a bit more. I know with both Harriet and Ekaterin I had to fight an initial reaction of “How dare you reject my darling Lord Peter/Miles!” A Civil Campaign lets us see Ekaterin in a different light, without which it would be hard to believe in the resolution. I thought Miles’ letter to Ekaterin and her reaction to it were perfect.
I don’t love Mark like I do Miles, but I do feel for him, and I was glad to see the way his story played out. Bujold handled a difficult situation very gently, I thought.
Nikki and Gregor’s interactions were both delightful and somewhat heartwrenching. I always like seeing the human side of Gregor, and this was a lovely example of his character at its best.
So, yes. All in all, extremely satisfying. And it has a stupendously terrible cover, so what more could you want?
Book source: public library
Book information: Baen, 1999; adult
Thrilling, heartwarming, and awkwardly hilarious all at the same time, this is the culmination of the series. Bujold manages to take all of the familiar characters and undermine our expectations of what they’ll do (Ivan acting all heroic?). Gregor remains one of my favorite characters, and Ekaterin is increasingly awesome. All in all, a happy sigh inducing read. [2010 in books]
A re-read. I was looking for something else and it was just sitting there on the shelf, tempting me with its shininess. So I took it out. I think this is destined to be one of those books I just read over and over again. [Jan. 2011]
A re-read, because I love this book like crazy. Miles’ dinner party always drives me to hysterical giggles, usually late at night when everyone else is asleep. [May 2011]