A Civil Campaign

A Civil Campaign - Lois McMaster Bujold This was such fun. This is the 12th book in the Vorkosigan Saga, and though I think it probably could stand alone, I think it's even more enjoyable if you read the prior books, starting at least with the omnibus work Young Miles. I think a lot of the enjoyment in the doings of familiar characters and of the political intrigues might be lost--or of lesser interest--if you haven't followed the books. The series is usually described as space opera, but definitely blends genres--often dropping a mystery into the plot. That the main focus of this book is romance is revealed by the dedication: "For Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, and Dorothy—long may they rule." I could easily fill in the blanks: Jane Austen. Charlotte Bronte, Georgette Heyer, and Dorothy Sayers. There is a gaggle of sisters, parallel sibling romances, failed proposals, second chances, trying to become a couple without losing yourself, witty banter, comedy of manners and lords and a royal wedding. But a conventional, romance-aisle love story? Decidedly not. Although amusingly you couldn't tell from the cover. The hero of the Vorkosigan Saga you see is Miles Vorkosigan. Because of an attack on his mother while she was pregnant Miles was born with several physical defects. He's short (four foot nine inches) crouch-backed, big-headed and brittle boned and scarred from many medical procedures. It's part of his charm that he not only overcomes his disabilities but... um overachieves. He makes Captain Kirk look like a slacker. But what do we have on the cover? A handsome man taller than the blonde woman he's dancing with. (And Miles' romantic interest in this has "dark hair.") Hilariously wrong. But that's a lot of what I love in the series and novel in a nutshell. That it defies expectations. (I can't see a Heyer Regency including a Lord who has undergone a sex change.) The book even has my favorite Bujold quote: "Reputation is what other people know about you; honor is what you know about yourself." And did I mention fun? If Mirror Dance was the darkest in the series thus far, this is definitely the lightest. I guffawed at the "Butter Bug" incident--hell, the Butter Bug chapter! And I laugh out loud at a book even more rarely than I cry--and I'm not easy. In fact, this is the first time I can remember a Bujold book making me giggle madly like that. More than once at that. And that is one of the reasons why this book earned five stars. My favorite Vorkosigan book thus far.