Vorkosigan Wiki
Vorkosigan Wiki
"Dreamweaver's Dilemma"
Falling Free
Cordelia's Honor
Shards of Honor
Young Miles
The Warrior's Apprentice
"The Mountains of Mourning"
The Vor Game
Miles, Mystery and Mayhem
Ethan of Athos
Miles Errant
"The Borders of Infinity"
Brothers in Arms
Mirror Dance
Changing Worlds
Miles in Love
A Civil Campaign
"Winterfair Gifts"
Miles, Mutants and Microbes
Diplomatic Immunity
Later books
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
"The Flowers of Vashnoi"
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

A Civil Campaign, written by Lois McMaster Bujold and published by Baen Books in September 1999, is the thirteenth published novel in the Vorkosigan Saga. It was first published in hardcover, and then in paperback August 2000. Chronologically it follows Komarr and precedes Diplomatic Immunity. It has been collected in the omnibus Miles in Love. An audiobook version narrated by Grover Gardner was published in 2007 by Blackstone Audio.

A Civil Campaign won the 2000 Sapphire Award from Locus and the PEARL Award in the Science Fiction category. It was nominated for a Hugo Award, a Locus Award, a HOMer Award for Best Novel, and a Minnesota Book Awards in Popular Fiction in 2000, and a Nebula Award in 2001.

Publisher's summary[]

It's spring in Vorbarr Sultana, and a young person's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love... money... bio-genetics... love... lack of money... incompatible planetary sexual mores... love... District succession scandals...the Emperor's wedding...and of course, love...

Lord Miles Vorkosigan, youngest Imperial Auditor to be appointed by the Emperor since the Time of Isolation, has a problem all his new power can't solve: unrequited love for the beautiful Vor widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson. Ekaterin is violently allergic to marriage as a result of her first exposure. But as Miles learned from his late career in galactic covert ops, if a frontal assault won't do, go to subterfuge. He has a cunning plan...

Lord Mark Vorkosigan has a problem: his love for the sunny Kareen, daughter of Commodore Koudelka, has just become unrequited again. But if all his new money can't solve their dilemma, perhaps a judicious blending of science and entrepreneurial scheming might. He has a cunning plan...

Lord Ivan Vorpatril has a problem: unrequited love in general. True, with the men on Barrayar outnumbering the women five to four, his odds aren't good. But Ivan had never thought the odds applied to him. He too has a cunning plan...

If no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, just imagine what all Miles's closest friends and relatives can do to his romantic strategy!

Plot Summary[]

The plot to this tale is immensely complicated, with five viewpoint characters whose tales tangle intricately. In timing, it follows immediately after Komarr.

Miles Vorkosigan and Ekaterin Vorsoisson arrived in Vorbarr Sultana; Miles had just completed the investigation of the destruction of Komarr's soletta, and Ekaterin had moved back to her home planet where she planned to return to University to study botany. She and her son Nikki agreed to stay with her aunt and uncle Vorthys until she could get a stable life set up for herself. Miles began his wooing of her by setting her up with a garden-design job on a plot of land that he owned near Vorkosigan House. Ivan Vorpatril, upon meeting her, was thinking he might try to court her himself; Miles offended Ivan by demanding that he give his word as Vorpatril not to make any such attempt. In retaliation, Ivan decided to get back at him by finding her some other suitor – Alexi Vormoncrief, a young idiot Lieutenant who worked in Ops.

"It would be almost a public service, to dangle the alternatives in front of the widow before Miles got her mind all turned inside out like he did everyone else's. But . . . Miles had extracted his word from Ivan, with downright ruthless determination. Forced it, practically, and a forced oath was no oath at all."
―Ivan decides to join the game[src]

Meanwhile, other people were arriving in Vorbarr Sultana as well: First Kareen Koudelka returned from her year of study at Beta Colony. The culture shock of her return to Barrayar left her unable to explain to her family that she was romantically involved with Mark Vorkosigan. Also, she had been hoping to continue studying on Beta, but learned that her family would not be able to support her financially.

Next, Mark Vorkosigan arrived in the company of a young Escobaran biochemist, Enrique Borgos, who wanted to develop Butter Bugs for Barrayar. Enrique's prior attempt at doing this for Escobar had failed badly due to his poor understanding of business practices. The two of them convinced Kareen to work for them as a lab manager in the makeshift lab they had set up in the basement of Vorkosigan House. She hoped to make enough money from the scheme to be able to return to Beta.

"You have your campaign all plotted out, I see ... I wouldn't dream of interfering." Mark made for the door. "Though I'm not at all sure I'd choose to structure my most intimate relationship as a war. Is she the enemy, then?"
―Mark's opinion of Miles' wooing of Ekaterin[src]

And more people again: Lady Donna Vorrutyer and two Vorrutyer armsmen returned from a visit to Beta Colony as well. When Donna's older brother, Count Pierre Vorrutyer, had died, she'd declared an impediment to his cousin Richars inheriting the countship and left for Beta. She returned as a man, Lord Dono Vorrutyer, and a claimant to the countship.

In the meantime, preparations had been underway for Gregor Vorbarra's own wedding to Laisa Toscane; the logistics were immensely complicated. Also, Count René Vorbretten had learned that he was not the descendent of the sixth Count Vorbretten when he and his wife decided to start trying to have children; as a result of learning this, another branch of his family decided to contest his place on the Council of Counts. Further, another Count of the Council, Count Vormuir, had decided to correct a population-growth problem in his District by mass-producing daughters for himself.

Bring in the two Koudelka daughters who had not yet found lasting relationships for themselves, Olivia and Martya, and there were quite a few people to deal with, all of whom were thinking either of marriage or children. Even Ivan began to think that he needed to begin forming lasting relationships instead of the short-term ones he was so infamous for.

Miles invited most of these people to a dinner he was hosting in Vorkosigan House; his plan was to propose marriage publicly to Ekaterin at this time. The meal and the proposal went very badly; also, Mark and Kareen's relationship got thrown at the Koudelka family, causing much distress. Miles managed to apologize to Ekaterin and was just beginning to restore their relationship on a more honest basis, when Richars Vorrutyer showed up. Richars was hoping to secure Miles's vote against Dono Vorrutyer's claim, but only succeeded in offending Miles greatly.

"Richars Vorrutyer has just offered to nobly refrain from laying a murder charge against me for Vorsoisson's death, in exchange for my vote in the Council of Counts confirming him as Count Vorrutyer."
"Mm. And how did you respond to this?"
"Shook his hand and sent him off thinking he had me."
"And does he?"
"Hell, no. I'm going to vote for Dono and squash Richars like the roach he is.
―Miles discusses matters with Allegre[src]

His back-scene dealing, however, led to Vassily Vorsoisson, Nikki's official guardian, panicking and threatening to take custody of Nikki from Ekaterin unless she stopped seeing Miles.

When the pair of cases of René and Dono came up in the Council of Counts, all the subplots came together in a complex untangling that resulted in: Miles and Ekaterin became engaged; Mark and Kareen were permitted to continue their relationship openly; Dono and Olivia became engaged; Enrique and Martya began showing clear signs of planning to become engaged; the Vorbrettens, having kept their countship, went forward with their plans for having children; and Gregor and Laisa successfully became married. Ivan wanted to marry, too, but had no one to pick. Vormuir was compelled to pay large dowries for his 118 daughters as new laws preventing future such abuses of birth technology were to be developed.

Major Characters[]

Supporting Characters[]

Minor Characters[]

Behind the Scenes[]

  • This tale is dedicated to "Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, and Dorothy." These are Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Georgette Heyer, and Dorothy Sayers; four major founding authors in romance. There are many connections between this tale and certain of their most well-known stories: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, A Civil Contract, and Gaudy Night. There is also a strong element of Shakespearean Comedy.
    • For a detailed discussion of the connections, see http://www.dendarii.com/accc.html for a downloadable "A Reader's Companion to A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold".
  • Several sources contributed to the idea of butter bugs:
    • In college, Bujold's faculty advisor was an insect toxicologist who worked with cockroaches.
    • Some Robert Sheckley tales about spacers who had misadventures with live cargo.
    • The movie Joe's Apartment.
    • A visit to the Minnesota State Fair, where there was a large apiary exhibit.

See also[]