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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Battlefield of Love, 24 Oct. 2003
By 
Patrick Shepherd "hyperpat" (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Miles Vorkosigan is at it again, merrily planning (and attempting to execute) a very exacting military campaign. The only trouble is, the military objective is inducing his new-found lady love Ekaterin to marry him. His plan includes notable pieces of strategy: not to be too obvious about it, as she is still in mourning for her late husband (see the earlier book Komarr for details); keep other suitors well away; make sure there are frequent opportunities for the two to be in each other's presence; ensure that she becomes aware of all the niceties that would entail from marrying into one of the noblest families on Barrayar. Each piece of his plan, though, runs into one minefield after another, and as he puts emergency stop-losses in place, his situation continuously deteriorates, culminating in a dinner where absolutely everything goes wrong.
The dinner may be the high point of this book - the person who can read this section and not fall over laughing, cringing, and crying all at the same time isn't a real human being. For this book is not about military action, political plots, or single-handed world-saving, but is rather a very witty comedy. The picture of Miles making just about every mistake a lovelorn suitor can is both marvelously funny and very believable, and the picture of Barrayaran society is solidly fleshed out, making the whole a perfect environment in which to play out such a comedy of manners. As usual, Bujold keeps several plot threads spinning at once, whose resolution, while (for once) not at all earth-shaking, makes for a nicely unified wholeness to the basic story.
In another departure for Bujold, this story is told from several viewpoints, not just Miles', which adds a lot to the reader's perspective of the society and situation, and also allows for much greater character development of Ivan Vorpatril, Mark (Miles' clone brother), and Ekaterin than has been the case with previous books in this series.
Perhaps my only real objection to this book was that some of the side plots from the main story just didn't seem to have enough importance and weren't detailed enough to make me really get involved with them, so that their major effect on the final outcome seemed to be larger than justified and a little bit of a surprise. This is a pretty minor quibble, though. Nominated for the 2000 Hugo award, this is a fine entertaining read, full of chuckles and belly-laughs, managing to make Miles into a normal human being without totally losing his aura of impossible competence, engaging and heart-warming. Possibly the best of all the Vorkosigan books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is not JUST Science Fiction, 5 Aug. 2011
By 
James Bryant (Calshot, English South Coast) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Civil Campaign (Vorkosigan Saga Book 12) (Kindle Edition)
"A Civil Campaign" is described by its author as "A Comedy of Biology & Manners" and is dedicated to Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, and Dorothy* (long may they rule). This alone should tell us that it crosses genres - brilliantly. It is a Regency romance set in the 31st Century on a distant planet, it is a true Science Fictional study of the effects on society of several different biotechnologies, and it is a work of great humour. Do not read Chapter 9 (the dinner party) in any place where loud sustained laughter might be embarrassing.

The action of this book, which takes place on the Imperial Planet of Barrayar during the run-up to the marriage of the Emperor Gregor Vorbarra, occurs late in the Vorkosigan series but it is an excellent introduction to it - it is a tribute to the author's skill that any book in the series can be read on its own without any sense of something missing.

When I re-read one of Lois Bujold's books, I am delighted by all the little details I had forgotten. She is a master craftsman, her characters always seem real (villains have their virtues and heroes their vices), and she does not overlook the smallest detail of language or plot.

This is a book to read and reread, but I shall not spoil the delight of a first reading by attempting to summarise the plot without revealing the surprises. I shall simply say that if you have never read anything by Lois you have a treat in store, and if you have read some of her other works this is one of the best.

* Austen, Bronte, Heyer and Sayers
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best in a hysterically funny series, 20 Aug. 2006
By 
Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The Miles Vorkosigan series of adventures is probably the most amusing comedy science fiction series ever written. This is the ninth Miles Vorkosigan adventure, and in my opinion the funniest book in the series.

It is slightly different from the other ten books in the series - the first eight and the last two all have elements of action adventure, mystery and detection. This one, on the other hand, can best be understood as a regency romantic farce set several hundred years in the future on a planet which in some ways is used to high technology and in others is a quasi-feudal militaristic Empire.

The Miles Vorkosigan stories, and four other books set in the the same future universe, can stand on their own. However, a number of them, of which this is one, will give you something extra if you have previously read some of Bujold's books set earlier on the same timeline.

If you have not previously met Lord Miles Vorkosigan, he is

1) a brilliant intriguer who at one stage was juggling at least three identities;
2) physically very small, having been injured in his mother's womb by poison gas;
3) a former spy for Imperial Barrayan security, former mercenary admiral and present "Imperial Auditor";
4) desperately trying to find a wife; and
5) hysterically funny to read about.

The book is set in the run-up to the wedding of Miles' cousin the Emperor. Several other people are thinking about love and marriage, including Miles himself, who is very much in love with Ekaterin who he met in the previous book, "Komarr".

His friend Duv Galeni, his brother Mark, and his cousin Ivan also have their own romantic plans, and their various romantic intrigues collide not only with each other, but with those of various scheming nobles who are fighting over the inheritance of two titles, Ekaterin's idiotic relatives, and two luckless Escobarran policemen.

At one point, Miles' mother Cordelia has to sort out the angry parents of his friends the Koudelka sisters. If you want to understand some of the references here, you will have to read the story of how the previous generation of Vorkosigans and Koudelkas got together, which can be found in the books "Shards of Honour" and "Barrayar." These two books have been publised separately, and also together as "Cordelia's honour".

Sound complicated? It is. That's why there is something to be said for reading these stories in sequence. Having said that, you can read this on its' own and it is still funny.

The full sequence of books in this Universe is

"Falling Free" (set 200 years before Miles is born)

The story of the romance between Miles' parents:
"Shards of Honour"
"Barrayar"

As mentioned above, these books have also been published together in one volume as Cordelia's Honor

The Miles Vorkosigan adventures:

"The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan)"
"The Vor game"
"Borders of Infinity" (comprises three linked novellas)
"Cetaganda"
"Brothers in Arms"
"Mirror Dance"
"Memory"
"Komarr"
"A Civil Campaign"
"Diplomatic Immunity"
"Cryoburn"

Finally, there are two stand-alone adventures which give two of Miles' friends and supporting characters a chance to take centre stage. His friend Elli Quinn, a beautiful woman, meets a doctor from a world populated entirely by gay men in "Ethan of Athos."

most recently published and set between "Diplomatic Immunity" and "Cryoburn," Miles' cousin and "straight man" Ivan Vorpatril, who rather unfairly comes over as a bit of a duffer in most of the books because he is usually in Miles' shadow, gets his own chance to be the hero in "Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures)" (CVA) which is very nearly as funny as this book.

All these books prior to the two most recent (Cryoburn and CVA) have also been republished in a set of omnibus volumes containing two or more of the original novels or novellas. I have already mentioned "Cordelia's Honour" and the other omnibus volumes are

Young Miles (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures)
Miles Errant
Miles in Love (Omnibus Edition)
Miles, Mystery and Mayhem (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures)
Miles Mutants & Microbes

I enjoyed all the books in the Vorkosigan universe and strongly recommend them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is there anything Bujold can't do?, 17 Dec. 2000
By 
neglet (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
Readers of previous Vorkosigan books will know how Bujold has been able to combine a cracking adventure yarn with serious issues (as in the best in the series, Brothers in Arms and Mirror Dance). Even as Miles has retired from his mercenary fleet, Bujold has kept the series fresh by involving him in the fascinating political scheming of Barrayar and its neighboring worlds (in Memory and Komarr). While A Civil Campaign might seem to be a throwaway volume, focusing on the imperial wedding and Miles's own romantic frustrations, Bujold has managed to fill it with still more political intrigue, interesting ideas on gender issues, and more character development for Miles, as his romantic hopes can only be fulfilled by using strategies different to those which have brought him success in the past. His love interest, Ekaterin, is also a fully developed character, and clone brother Mark and his friend Kareen get much attention as well. Then there's the comic scenes--Bujold has hinted at a skill for these in the past, but the chapters on Miles's first dinner party are classic! While A Civil Campaign is different in tone from other books in the series, it's still written to as high a standard. I hate waiting for the next volume!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of a great series, 22 Feb. 2006
This is quite simply a great book. Even allowing for the fact that I am a “fan” of Bujold’s work this one and ‘Memory’ stand out from all the others. Where ‘Memory’ felt plot driven ‘A Civil Campaign’ carries as compelling a plot but through words which are worth reading and re-reading time and again. This is the only book I will open just to read a favourite paragraph, whether it be “Lately I’ve come to realise that the principle difference between heaven and hell is the company you keep there” or “The only way you win that war is to start with unconditional surrender.”
As for the plot, well it’s not one which brings huge surprises, boy meets girls etc. but in this case it’s padded out with a number of complications and satisfyingly complex subplots and additional characters. Bujold re-introduces a new major character whose point of view we are given and fleshes out some of the minor characters we’ve grown used to. Of course for Bujold a minor character seems to have the care and attention other authors can’t even get for their major characters.
Readers used to Miles’ adventures will enjoy this hugely, bringing one stage of Miles’ life to a significant point and to some extent marking him reaching his adulthood. I can’t help feeling though that to enjoy it as much as I did readers would benefit from having read all the previous books. That’s not a criticism, simply an observation which I believe is true of many long running series. Considering what a joy that is I strongly suggest you turn on 1-click and get ordering, especially as the first two books are now collected into a single volume and you won’t have to wait a year for the next instalment!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and very funny!, 27 Jun. 2000
By A Customer
A fantastic book! Miles has faced many difficult tasks in the past but none so difficult as trying to court Ekaterin without letting her know about it. Not to mention the problems with butter bugs and the world of politics! This book is very funny (don't read in public unless you want people to stare at you when you start laughing), but in places it is also heart-breaking. It is told from several people's point-of-view, which allows us to get a different view of Miles than we had before, and gives us insights into other characters, including Ivan - who tries *so* hard to be an innocent bystander. You need to read Komarr, the book before A Civil Campaign, for this book to make sense, but if you've read all the Vorkosigan books you will appreciate more of the 'insider comments' such as the effect one particular couch in Vorkosigan House library can have on Kou and Drou.... Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the top writers in sf. I would recommend the whole series to anyone - they may appear to be standard 'space opera' but they are in fact so much more than just that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Civil Campaign is fun!, 29 April 2001
By 
Rebecca Brown "rebeccasreads" (Clallam Bay, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Associate Reviewer David Brown writes: Lord Miles Vorkosigan, a recent galactic covert agent & now the youngest Imperial Auditor appointed since the Time of Isolation, is madly in love with the beautiful Vor widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson. She is violently allergic to marriage as a result of her first exposure & Miles comes up with a cunning plan. Both his clone brother & cousin have also devised cunning plans to catch the loves of their dreams & that's when the fun begins.
Fun is what A Civil Campaign is all about! Miles' universe is a rich one: food, drink, atmosphere & relationships. Would I like to be Miles? Absolutely not! Do I like to read about him, oh yes!
In case you haven't got it by now & you're muttering: "Well, is he recommending this book or not?" I am, I am, I am! When I read about Miles Vorkosigan I laugh, I cry, I call him stupid & then I'm immensely pleased when he finds his way out of his dilemma.
Definitely world-class science fiction with a comedic twist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A hilarious comedy of manners and morals, 27 Sept. 2012
By 
Theophania Elliott "Theophania Elliott" (Somewhere on this planet, honestly.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Civil Campaign (Vorkosigan Saga Book 12) (Kindle Edition)
This is part of Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga. Although it can be read as a standalone book, it's far better read as part of the series, particularly after reading Komarr (Vorkosigan Saga ), immediately after which A Civil Campaign is set.

Miles Vorkosigan, Imperial Auditor, Count's heir, and ex-secret-military-hero is in love. Unfortunately, the lady upon whom he has set his heart has just been widowed (in cirumstances in which Miles was intimately involved) and her experience of marriage has left her violently allergic.

Miles, with his customary verve and elan, therefore embarks on a secret courtship. Not secret from the population in general - just in secret from the lady herself.

Also involved in this story are Miles' clone-brother Mark and his girlfriend, and Mark's mad-scientist protege who has made discovery in genetic engineering that could be extremely useful to Barrayar but which has... problems. Emperor Gregor also has problems; Barrayar is now connected to the rest of the galaxy again - galactic medical technology is available on (or off) Barrayar, but the political, legal and ethical framework to deal with the issues this throws up is not - so the problem of sorting this out is given to Miles (whose job, as an Imperial Auditor is, as he reflects, "Anything You Say, Gregor.") You get to watch Miles getting himself in deeper and deeper trouble as he tries to manipulate those around him in typical Miles-fashion, only to find that other people have their own plans that might not mesh well with his own.

This book is a classic example of taking a situation to its logical extreme - and then kicking it when it's down. It's one of the most laugh-out-loud funny books I've ever read (as other reviewers have commented, the Dinner Party Scene is priceless). It's not slapstick humour - this is clever, and witty. And even when you think that everything has been sorted out with the kind of elegance that only a master storyteller can manage, Bujold has one more surprise in store just to finish them whole thing off in style.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great, can be read and reread, interesting at every level, 26 Jun. 2000
By A Customer
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I now buy Lois Bujold in hardback since I couldn't bear waiting once I'd seen the sample chapters (still on website Baen.com). I am now buying paperback copies for friends and family.
LMB's writing skill improves with every book, this is another Miles Vorkosigan adventure for the many admirers of the hyperactive dwarf but this time set in the middle of the politics of his home planet as he tries to court the widow he met in _Komarr_ (also recommended), play his part as his cousin the Emperor finally gets married and everyone around him refuses to do what his cunning plans require. The author's skill in describing Miles's disaster of a dinner party amazed me as I reached the climax, weak with laughter.
It is seriously unwise to read this book while eating or drinking, damage to keyboards may occur.
Brother Mark also has a plan, involving a galactic scientist who Mark had bailed from the wrath of the shareholders who find he has sold them 500 % of the company to provide funds for his great idea.
The impact of biological advances on society drives this and a number of sub-plots and Miles's parents Cordelia and Aral get some good lines and scenes as they try to overcome the "will to stupidity" (Cordelia) inherent in human nature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Romantic science fiction comedy with real people, 5 Nov. 2012
By 
Serin6 (Dunmow, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Witty without being self-conscious, funny but not silly, this novel about Miles Vorkosigan's "campaign" to marry Ekaterin is the rest of the story which started with "Komarr" (the events in Komarr occur just before the start of "A Civil Campaign"). There are other, earlier novels about Miles but he was only a baby in the only others I have read in this series (Shards of Honour and Barrayar) so I don't think you need to read all of them to make sense of this one.
Miles' attempts to court Ekaterin do not work out as he expects, at least not at first. In the meantime his "clone-brother" Mark also has a girlfriend with her own ideas, picked up from the free-and-easy planet Beta, and the subsidiary characters are very enjoyable - funny without being caricatures. The humour is sophisticated and sometimes sly. I am not interested in descriptions of alien technology or battles in space and this book has none of these at all. There is political intrigue and a subtle and realistic interweaving of future technology and human behaviour in a modern feudal society. All done with a light touch and so well-written you feel you have met the characters in real life, or wish you could.
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