Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Miles in Love; Lois McMaster Bujold

Another omnibus put out by Baen, this one has two full size novels and one novella. I read the two full size novels: Komarr and A Civil Campaign. The novella is Winterfair Gifts, also available in the romance anthology which I read when it came out. Links to LMB's webpage in the title above. Reminder, there are two ways to read about Miles Vorkosigan: publishing order or by internal series timeline. All of the novels in Miles in Love center around Miles falling in love (duh! lol) with and his courtship of Ekaterin Vorsoisson. I will try very hard not to give too many plot details away below.

Komarr is set on the planet of the same name not long after the war between Miles’ people and the Komarrans. Thus the stage is primed with latent hostilities and suspicion before the action begins. Komarr has been terraformed, a type of planetwide landscaping, for many years. One of the technologies used to improve life on Komarr is a giant solar array. Somehow, several of the giant mirrors were destroyed in a tug accident. Lord Auditor Vorthys and Miles are in orbit around Komarr to investigate the accident. Lord Vorthys is Ekaterin’s uncle and he brings Miles down to the Vorsoisson’s apartment in the capitol city of Serifosa. Things snowball dramatically from there.

Ekaterin, IMO, is exceptionally well drawn. Trapped both by her upbringing and by necessity in an unhappy marriage with a manipulative, emotionally unavailable man, Bujold limns Ekaterin with grace and light and strength. She finds Miles both puzzling and charming, but mostly she’s coping with her husband and trying to shield their son Nicolai from the worst of his father (which is indifference). Meanwhile, the investigation proceeds apace.

A Civil Campaign takes up immediately after Komarr. Ekaterin and Nicolai have returned to Vorbarr Sultana and are staying with Ekaterin’s uncle. The Vorr are still a patriarchal society, there are legal issues between Ekaterin and her male relatives that complicate matters. Then of course there’s Miles’ cousin Ivan Vorpatril who likes nothing better than to makes Miles’ life as difficult as possible ‘all in the name of fun,’ of course. Not only that, Miles’ clone brother Marc shows up. Politics and paternalism rear their ugly heads, but rest assured romance fans- there is a happy ending.

Winterfair Gifts takes place a few months later, just before Miles and Ekaterin get married. The primary story is set around Armsman Roic and Sergeant Taura of the Dendarii Mercenaries. Taura is in town for the wedding and Roic is assigned to her courtesy escort detail. Primarily the theme is one of finding a place where you can belong, looking beyond appearances, love and acceptance. This novella is also found in both Irresistible Forces and Miles in Love.

Images found on the following sites: Content Reserve, Princeton NJ public library, East Baton Rouge LA public library, and on Catherine Asaro's webpage.

Edited to correct book title Winterfair Gifts is in.

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