A Civil Campaign
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Baen, 1999, ISBN 0-671-57827-8
A book review by Elisabeth Carey
Did you think that Miles was the definitive example of how far the Vor will go to be Vor? You were wrong. Someone else has Miles beat by, um, miles. But that's okay; Miles, as usual, has his own problems. There's his brother Mark's new business venture, which involves some rather unattractive bugs, currently stashed in an old laundry room in Vorkosigan House. There's convincing Ekaterin that the fact that she made a mistake in marrying Tien at twenty doesn't mean that she's forever incapable of making good marital choices. There's convincing Ekaterin that he's not trying to manipulate her, which is tough, because he is. He's Miles, after all; it's easier for him to skip breathing for a few days than to skip manipulating people for a similar period. There's Miles' old friend Count René Vorbretten, whose unfortunate and previously unsuspected Cetagandan ancestry is endangering his possession of the countship--and risks turning that vote in the Council of Counts over to the Conservative Party. There's the rumors going around that Miles murdered Ekaterin's first husband. There's the other countship that's in dispute, with one of the putative heirs trying to blackmail Miles to force the Vorkosigans to support him when the Council of Counts votes on who's the real Count. There's the most disastrous dinner party in, possibly, the history of Barrayar. (Well, perhaps not. Nobody dies, after all. It's just that some people wish they had.)
And he can't even run away to be Admiral Naismith anymore. Aside from the fact that Admiral Naismith is dead and everyone knows it, his uniform doesn't even fit anymore.
No one has time to give him any sympathy; everyone has their own problems. Ekaterin has persistent unwanted suitors, and annoyingly helpful relatives and in-laws. Mark has his business partner Enrique, and his on-again off-again romance with Kareen Koudelka, and Kou and Drou's reaction when they find out. Ivan has been formally assigned as an aide to Lady Alys, while she manages the arrangements for Gregor and Laisa's wedding. And then there's the startling discovery he's made about his old love, Lady Donna Vorrutyer...
Great fun. And I don't recommend that you annoy any Lady Vorkosigan, present or future; it seems to be bad for your career prospects.