March 10th, 2013


Miles in Love, by Lois McMasters Bujold

This is an omnibus collecting two books and a novella: Komarr, A Civil Campaign, and "Winterfair Gifts".

The female protagonist of Komarr and A Civil Campaign, Ekaterin Vorsoisson, reminds me strongly of sandratayler. Not, happily, in specific life circumstances (particularly not in her choice of first husband), but reading scenes from Ekaterin's perspective was eerily like reading Sandra's journal. Ekaterin has the same kind of focus on childcare and the same concern for the well-being of those around her, a similar struggle acknowledging that her own needs matter, similar aversion to conflict, the same desire to be recognized for her own achievement and not as an adjunct to someone else. Even the same fondness for gardening. From a review standpoint, this isn't significant except insofar as it made Ekaterin extremely believable as a character.

Bujold typically writes in the third-person with a limited array of viewpoint characters. In most of the early Miles Vorkosigan books, Miles is the primary and sometimes sole viewpoint character. Komarr is pretty evenly split between Miles and Ekaterin.

A Civil Campaign is a big departure from this, with a large array of viewpoint characters: Ivan Vorpatril, Kareen Voudelka, and Mark Vorkosigan as well as Miles and Ekaterin, and maybe one or two others that I'm forgetting. A Civil Campaign is a departure in tone, too: previous Vorkosigan books have been action-adventure/mystery sf, with some humor, political overtones, and occasional romantic subplots. A Civil Campaign is roughly one part romance, one part political drama, and one part farce. It's very different. It had been my favorite in the series, but on re-reading I'm not so sure. Some of the comic moments are wonderful (Nikki playing his trump card! Cordelia seating Kou and Drou on the couch!) but others are painful. It's a bad place to start the series, because so much of it is dependent on the reader's existing knowledge of the characters. They are old familiar friends by now, and the book would lose much of its charm if you'd never met them before.

"Winterfair Gifts" was told from the viewpoint of Vorkosigan's most junior Armsmen, and was quite endearing: a little mystery and a lot of character development and some romance. Probably my favorite part of the three components of this book, actually. I think I'd give Komarr and A Civil Campaign 8s and "Winterfair Gifts" a 9.