Friday, July 07, 2006

Title: A Civil Campaign
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Published: 1999, Baen
Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 9/10

I discovered Lois McMaster Bujold through a recommendation from jmc. I read Cordelia's Honor several months ago and liked it very much, so I got this book from the library. It's been sitting on my pile for months and I kept renewing it, knowing that I would get around to it eventually. And I was finally in the mood for SciFi this week.

And I loved this book. I think it was even better than Cordelia's Honor. I went out to the bookstore today and bought a copy because I wanted it to be mine! mine! mine!

A Civil Campaign is one in a long series of books Bujold wrote about Miles Vorkosigan. Miles was exposed to some horrible chemical when he was still in utero and was born with tons of health problems. He's been through lots of medical treatments but his growth was stunted. So he's a little man. But despite this he has, through the strength of his ambition and intelligence, become a very important military leader. He's a fascinating character.

When this book opens, Miles has been discharged from the military. He's fallen in love with Ekaterin Vorsoisson, who is very recently widowed. So he turns his strategic mind to courting her. All kinds of problems arise not least of which is the fact that Miles was involved in the death of Ekaterin's first husband. Both he and Ekaterin know that he's not guilty, but it makes for a sticky situation. Miles's clone-brother Mark is also having romantic troubles--he's in love with a girl whose parents disapprove of him. The clone-brother thing is a long story from a previous book, so I don't know exactly what the deal is with him. But he's way fatter than Miles and is referred to as the fat clone. Hahaha. I'm going to start calling Twin the fat clone. (She's not actually fat. If she were I wouldn't be able to tease her, now would I? But she was a pound heavier than me at birth, and I like to say that she was greedy in the womb and stole my food.)

There are lots of other little subplots that I won't go into. But it's full of adventure and humor, besides the very sweet love story. I don't really read SciFi, but I make an exception for Bujold, because she's such a good storyteller. And her books are so wise. Miles's father tells him, "Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself. . . . Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will." Seems like very good advice.

And there's a scene where Miles throws a dinner party and everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. It is a priceless scene. So, so funny.

I'm definitely going to pick up another Miles book. The only question is which one. I think Komarr, which is the one just before this one, or Diplomatic Immunity, which is set just after. Wikipedia has a list of the Miles books in chronological order.

4 comments:

Dora said...

Hey, Patricia C. Wrede knows Lois McMaster Bujold too! Wikipedia is awesome like that.

julieree said...

at least i'm not a scrawny little runt clone like SOME people. And I wasn't greedy in the womb--it was just survival of the fittest, baby.

i could eat you for breakfast.

Holly said...

LOL! This one sounds good and you two make me LOL with your womb stuff. Too funny. K, adding to my wish list. *sigh*q

jmc said...

I'm glad you liked A Civil Campaign! It was the first Miles Vorkosigan book I read (second LMB, after reading The Curse of Chalion) and it started my glom of her backlist.

The short history on Mark the Clone: he was cloned by an enemy of Aral Vorkosigan. He began to grow normally but had to be physically molded and damaged to match Miles, otherwise he couldn't pass as Miles. Plus other kinds of bad stuff was done to him, including being trained to assassinate both Miles and his father. He first surfaces in Brothers in Arms and then causes disaster for Miles in Mirror Dance. The fatness is a conscious body choice, in part because it distinguishes him from Miles and in part because he has never before had the right to choose anything about his physical appearance.

~jmc