Friday, 5 January 2001
Lois McMaster Bujold: A Civil Campaign (1999)
Review number: 706
The latest Vorkosigan novel is in a completely different genre from the others. They were thrillers with a science fiction setting, while A Civil Campaign is a comedy of manners with a science fiction setting. There have always been humorous elements in Bujold's writing, but this novel is very funny indeed.
Miles Vorkosigan has returned to the imperial capital on Barrayar to take his part in the preparations for the Emperor's wedding (at which he is to be best man). He also wants to pursue his courtship of widow Ekaterine Vorsoisson, but it too shy to make his purpose at all clear to her. At the same time, he becomes rather reluctantly involved in two political causes involving the right to hold titles.
The whole plot, combined with a new business venture for Miles' brother Mark, is a recipe for disaster, which duly happens about half way through with a set piece dinner party at which everything which could go wrong does go wrong. The rest of the novel is basically about sorting out the mess.
Bujold has shown that she can write interesting science fiction, exciting and humorous thrillers. A Civil Campaign is evidence of mastery of a very different type of writing, with almost its only common features with her earlier work being the setting and the consistently well drawn characters.