Libby's Reviews > Miles in Love

Miles in Love by Lois McMaster Bujold
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Nov 28, 2011

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bookshelves: year-of-women, sci-fi
Read from November 28 to December 01, 2011

Rating this omnibus, that comprises the novels "Komarr" and "A Civil Campaign" and the novella "Winterfair Gifts," gave me fits. On the one hand, "Komarr" amazed me in many ways, not least of which the fact that it surpasses its remarkable predecessor "Memory," which until now had been my favorite novel in the series. "Komarr" is a gripping mystery-romance-adventure featuring a spectacularly rendered female character, a fascinating bit of political sabotage, and a many-layered mystery to unravel. I absolutely adored it.

However, a great deal of that goodwill evaporated with "A Civil Campaign," which I found to be a thoroughly awkward mix of formulaic romantic comedy and political mystery. The political mystery, which was wonderfully queer-feminist, was what kept me going. Bujold makes a number of rare mis-steps in order to squash her sensible would-be lovers into a standard and weirdly redundant tear-em-apart-and-bring-em-back-together plot, including a clueless Escobaran scientist whose one-dimensional characterization sticks out like a sore thumb, the way Mark's character is warped to bring him into a partnership with the scientist, and worst of all, playing Simon's memory loss for laughs in the cringe-inducing dinner party scene. As clever and winning as the sub plots are, notably Cordelia playing Baba, I would have stopped reading if not for the promise of an excellent idiot-smackdown at the end, and I'm glad to say I was rewarded for my perseverance.

Thankfully, there is a lovely denouement with "Winterfair Gifts," which is the story of Miles's wedding and an eleventh hour plot to foil it told from the perspective of Armsman Roic and featuring my favorite secondary character, Seargent Taura. Anybody familiar with classical mythology will spot the murder plot a mile off, but that's not the point. It's a warm, winsome story about a provincial young man coming to terms with a great big universe and all its wonderful weirdness. And thankfully, Aral's threat doesn't totally derail Ivan's pranks. And there are pretty dresses! Overall, I'd have been happier if the wedding had been the end of "A Civil Campaign" and the dinner party and butter bugs had never seen the light of day, but despite its unevenness, this omnibus has many good things to recommend it.

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