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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