The 10th book in the series.

Publication year: 2000
Format: Audio
Narrator: Grover Garnder
Running Time: 18 hours, 49 min

A Civil Campaign is sort of a culmination of several things in the books before it, most of them character based. Because of this, I heartily recommend starting the series from the beginning with ”Shards of Honor” and not with this book. I especially recommend reading Komarr before this one.

That said, I’m a huge fan of this series and enjoyed this book, too, although perhaps not as much as some of the others. It’s quite unlike from the previous books. For one thing, it has several POV characters: Miles, Mark, Ekaterin, Kareen, Ivan. Also, the main plot is a romance not an action-adventure and the whole book is set in Barrayar.

Emperor Gregor is marrying Laisa Toskane and that has turned everyone’s thoughts to romance. Including the Vorkosigan brothers. Miles met Ekaterin in the previous book, Komarr, and is still smitten with her and starts to court her. However, Ekaterin is still hurting from her first unhappy marriage and says firmly that she doesn’t want to marry again. Desperately, Miles decides to do it anyway – but secretly. That is, secretly from her. Unfortunately for him, he also asks advice from all sorts of other people and the result is that quite quickly, Ekaterin herself is the only one who doesn’t know it. Miles wants to keep her close so he arranges a job for her – as his gardener. Hilarity ensues!

Also, Miles’ clone brother Mark is back from the Beta Colony. He has brought with him an Escobaran doctor who has invented Butterbugs, bugs which eat almost anything and produce eatable substance. Mark, Kareen, and the doctor have started a company and are trying to make the bugs palatable enough to sell them. Also, Mark and Kareen have been lovers on Beta but now Kareen is uncomfortable continuing their relationship in front of her family and is feeling pressured by the Barrayaran customs for women. Mark is head over heels in love with Kareen and is unhappy. When Kareen’s parents find out that their daughter is in love with a clone who has assassin training, they are unhappy. Hilarity ensues!

Meanwhile, there’s trouble in the Council of Counts. Young count Rene Vorbretten and his wife want to have kids and have chosen to use the uterine replicator. That means a gene scan and to their horror, they find out that Rene is part Cetagandan. Therefore, it’s possible that he will lose the countship. Also, many of their former friends are shunning the couple. Also, the old Vorrutyer count has died without a direct heir. His closest male relative, Richards, is quite repulsive. His sister Lady Donna has been running the district for years but she can’t inherit. Although she has asked, and received, a delay before a Count has to be confirmed. She has left for Beta Colony and people speculate on what she intends to do.

A Civil Campaign in romantic comedy with lots and lots of delightful characters and great humor. There’s also a lot of politicking. Most of the POVs are very entertaining but sometimes I was a bit impatient with the angsting lovers (all four of them!).

It also has lot of lovely lines:

“You don’t pay back your parents. You can’t. The debt you owe them gets collected by your children, who hand it down in turn. It’s a sort of entailment. Or if you don’t have children of the body, it’s left as a debt to your common humanity. Or to your God, if you possess or are possessed by one.

The family economy evades calculation in the gross planetary product. It’s the only deal I know where, when you give more than you get, you aren’t bankrupted – but rather, vastly enriched.”

”Never… ever suggest they don’t have to pay you. What they pay for, they’ll value. What they get for free, they’ll take for granted, and then demand as a right. Hold them up for all the market will bear.”