I was having a discussion about the Vorkosigan books over on G+ (prompted by the eARC of the Ivan book becoming available) and thought I should bring these mini-rants over here for multiple cut tags and also potential interest. Don't read if you don't want spoilers or you don't want your squee harshed; I love the series but not uncritically, and if that's not your thing, have some kittens instead.
A Civil Campaign
First: Miles/Ekaterin moved too fast. Bujold invoked Sayers in the dedication, but this was Gaudy Night and should have been Have His Carcase. Where, exactly, is the emotional resolution of Miles overrunning her boundaries and Ekaterin wanting to be established on her own? Swept away in coming to his defense against external influences, and not actually resolved at all.
Second: I need WAY more character development to buy Dono's adjustment to the sex change, and also to buy Dono/Olivia, because there are psychological consequences all over the damn place there which are basically . . . Sir/Madam/Gentlebeing Not Appearing In This Book.
Third and relatedly: Fuck the patriarchy anyway; the proper response to the recognition that sex is a mutable characteristic is to stop enshrining it as a requirement for power. Don't join them, beat them. (That is: I think I'm supposed to think of Dono becoming Count as a big-picture victory, and I don't.)
Needs to have had a parallel Ekaterin POV, the space for which is clearly visible.
Hey, remember in A Civil Campaign when Cordelia asks Kareen if she sees marriage "as the end and abolition of yourself," and Kareen says "Why else do all the stories end when the Count's daughter get married?"
. . . yeah. Ekaterin doesn't even get to be physically present in this book. And this bit from Roic's POV?
Lady Vorkosigan already ran an enormous household, rode herd on four children under the age of six and a teenage son from a prior marriage, played political hostess for her husband in his roles both as an Imperial Auditor and as the Count's heir, had undertaken supervisory responsibilities for agriculture and terraforming in the Vorkosigan's District, and tried desperately, in her spare seconds, to maintain a garden design business.
I just. GAH.
Suddenly that too-quick resolution in ACC, and the lack of her POV in DI, looks like foreshadowing of the deeply unwelcome kind.
Also: other things that are interesting include: Miles raising his children (assuming that he does). [*] Miles being married. Miles being Count Vorkosigan. Barrayar changing in response to galactic tech and society. Things, in other words, with direct emotional consequences and conflicts for Miles and Ekaterin and the rest of the people we've come to know and like over all these books.
Way, way down on the list of what's interesting is Miles solving some other planet's problems, no matter how thematic those problems are. And yet that's what Cryoburn was, minus its last five hundred words—good words, granted, but not in any way sufficient.
[*] Looking at the Miles-POV vid message scene makes me want to smash things again:
Considering that he'd stuck her with four offspring in under six years, her lack of gray hairs seemed increasingly remarkable. . . . Perhaps—no, make that almost certainly—he'd underestimated how much work normal healthy children would take, even with all the help his money and position could buy.
One would like to think that Ekaterin, not a first-time parent, would have some input here, but you sure as fuck couldn't prove it from the text.
Despite, or perhaps because of, these rants, I am interested in the Ivan book, though I am so tired that I think I will probably wait on reading it for a bit.