A Civil Campaign
Very different from all the other books so far -- in the Afterword, Bujold describes it as her take on Regency romance; having not read many Regencies I have to take her word for it, but it makes sense. I enjoyed all the layers of politics and seeing them come together at the end. There seemed to be a strong theme of an old society dealing with the implications of new technology, most obviously in the story of Lady Donna/Lord Dono (which I loved), but in other areas as well: Rene Vorbretten was almost brought down by genetic testing; Lord Vormuir and his 118 dowries; the promise and problem of the butter bugs; Kareen getting a taste of the freedom allowed by reliable contraception and hungering to make her own way. That last thread probably resonated with me the most in its beginnings of a critique of Barrayaran society, although I also loved Cordelia's observations about how Betan methods of controlling reproduction come with their own problems.
It was nice getting the perspective of many voices on this one, and I think it helped with keeping track of so many plot threads; I liked following the stories from different perspectives. I especially appreciated getting a look through Ivan's eyes at last: getting his unfiltered thoughts on Miles, and Barrayar politics, and his unwillingness to settle down.
I had figured it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Miles and Ekaterin were going to end up together (and ditto with Mark and Kareen -- "mutual option", hah! I love it), but in this case it's the journey that matters, and I certainly would never have imagined anything like the proposal in the Court of Counts, especially after that dinner party that I pretty much had to read with my fingers over my eyes, it was such a disaster. Poor, stupid Miles. But it was fun to see them work it out, in public and dramatic fashion. Although I suppose from Miles, I should expect nothing less.
And once again, of course, Gregor rules all. I hope we get a story from his POV someday.
Telling the story of Miles and Ekaterin's wedding from the POV of Random Armsman #37 was a stroke of genius. We hear very little of "ordinary" Barrayarans, so this made for a nice change. Of course, it's the mark of the Vorkosigans that their Random Armsman #37 rises up to save the day in a time of need. Recruiting, retaining, and inspiring people seems to be the one thing they all have in common. Enjoyable little story, and the Roic/Taura romance is sweet and believable.
One weird thing, though -- I don't know if it's the story or just this edition, but the text was riddled with errors. Typos, punctuation and spacing mistakes, wrong words used. Well below the standards I would expect of a published book, and I found it jarring.
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