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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
This review is from: A Civil Campaign (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures) (Hardcover)
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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Location: Whitehaven, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 284