A Civil Campaign

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A Civil Campaign
Cover of the first edition
Author Lois McMaster Bujold
Audio read by Grover Gardner
Cover artist Patrick Turner
Country United States
Language English
Series Vorkosigan Saga
Genre Science fiction
Published 1999 (Baen Books)
Media type Print
Pages 405
ISBN 978-0-671-57827-5
Preceded by Komarr
Followed by Diplomatic Immunity

A Civil Campaign: A Comedy of Biology and Manners is a science fiction novel by Lois McMaster Bujold, first published in September 1999. It is a part of the Vorkosigan Saga, and is the thirteenth full-length novel in publication order. It is included in the 2008 omnibus Miles in Love. The title is an homage to the Georgette Heyer novel A Civil Contract and, like Heyer's historical romances, the novel focuses on romance, comedy, and courtship.[1] It is dedicated to "Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, and Dorothy", likely the novelists Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Georgette Heyer, and Dorothy L. Sayers or Dorothy Dunnett.[1][2][3]

Plot summary[edit]

An Imperial wedding is afoot, as Gregor Vorbarra, Emperor of Barrayar, has finally found love in the form of Komarran heiress Laisa.

Meanwhile, Miles Vorkosigan tackles the wooing of recent widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson in his typically deranged fashion: he does everything he can to avoid letting her know about the courtship prematurely, fearful that her failed marriage has put her off the institution for life. To get to see her frequently, and knowing of her ambition to become a gardener, he hires her to design a garden for Vorkosigan House.

His clone brother Mark also has romance problems, with Kareen Koudelka. While their relationship did not bother her on Beta Colony, the sexual mores of conservative Barrayar are much stricter, and she keeps it a secret from her family. A significant subplot involves Mark's first entrepreneurial venture: a genetically engineered insect called the "butter bug," capable of converting waste vegetation into nutritious, edible bug vomit.

Everything goes horribly wrong when Miles hosts a dinner party. A still-recovering Simon Illyan inadvertently blurts out Miles' not-so-secret courting (known to all the guests except the intended target). She leaves hastily after he panics and asks her to marry him. To further complicate matters, Kareen's parents forbid her to have anything to do with Mark after they find out about their relationship.

Meanwhile, two seats on the powerful Council of Counts are up for grabs, one because the current Count Vorbretten has been found to be part Cetagandan, dating back to the days of the Cetagandan occupation of Barrayar. The vacant countship of the late Pierre Vorrutyer is contested by a distant cousin, Richars, and Pierre's sister, Donna, who has undergone gender reassignment surgery, becoming a fully functional man in order to improve his chances at the title. Lord Dono, who as Donna taught Ivan Vorpatril "everything he knew", turns to Ivan for assistance and advice.

As his father's proxy, Miles is courted by both sides. After Richars makes an ill-advised attempt to gain his vote, Miles throws his considerable support behind Dono. He also suggests Dono and Count Vorbretten team up.

For security reasons, however, Miles is unable to defend himself against the ensuing malicious rumors about his part in Ekaterin's husband's death. When Ekaterin learns of the rumors, she is forced to consult Miles. Miles offers to take the blame, to spare Ekaterin and her son, but she refuses to let him.

Mark and Kareen's problem is solved after Miles advises Mark to utilize a most effective weapon: their formidable mother Cordelia. She soon has Kareen's parents cowed and amenable.

In a tumultuous Council session, Richars' bungled assault on Dono (and drastic attempt to reverse his sex change) is revealed. This results in his defeat, and as an unintended consequence, the very public betrothal of Miles and Ekaterin. Vorbretten also retains his countship.

Like its predecessor, this novel tells its story from the viewpoints of both Miles and Ekaterin, on occasion smoothly switching from one to the other during a given scene. There are also the viewpoints of Mark, Kareen Koudelka, and even Ivan Vorpatril, whose interior life had not been described at all before.


A Civil Campaign was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards in 2000.[4]


  1. ^ a b Walton, Jo (15 April 2009). "She's getting away! Lois McMaster Bujold's A Civil Campaign". Tor.com. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  2. ^ David Langford (August 2003). Up Through an Empty House of Stars. Wildside Press LLC. pp. 263–4. ISBN 978-1-59224-055-5. 
  3. ^ John Lennard (1 January 2010). Of Sex and Faerie: Further Essays on Genre Fiction. Humanities-Ebooks. pp. 83–84. ISBN 978-1-84760-171-1. 
  4. ^ "2000 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 

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