Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Chapters 12 and 13

True confessions:

I watched The Princess Switch.

It was exactly what the review led me to expect. My heart was warmed. Literally its only connection to Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance was that in some scenes it snowed.

There is snow in part of chapter 12 of Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance because Ivan and Tej travel up north to the Vorpatril’s District. Apparently it snows there for a lot of the year, because there was no mention of Winterfair. I could go for Tej and Rish’s first Winterfair! But Winterfair is nowhere near Ivan’s birthday, and the reason Ivan and Tej are traveling is so that Count Falco can divorce them.

Yeah, total downer.

Ivan makes a little winter getaway out of the three-day weekend he takes from work in order to get divorced. There’s a hotel room with a fireplace and room service. It’s very romantic. I’m reading it as the kind of thing a guy does when he doesn’t want to get divorced.

And indeed, Ivan and Tej don’t get divorced. I don’t know what they do on the rest of the planet, but apparently Vorpatril’s District doesn’t have no-fault divorce, and Count Falco finds that they have no grounds. Neither Ivan nor Tej is cruel, neglectful, or unfaithful. I feel pretty strongly that Falco is being unjust and divorce should be available to anyone who wants it. Or anyone who thinks they want it. Falco is throwing his weight around as Count against a relative who, he has made clear, he feels is neglecting a number of his social duties. Ivan has not paid Countess Vorpatril a formal visit, and she wants to see him. Everyone wants to see Ivan because he is this week’s fun story, and most people don’t have ImpSec to arrange it for them. We also know, from A Civil Campaign, that Falco thinks that Ivan should have married earlier. It’s hardly a surprise that Falco doesn’t want to cooperate with Ivan’s efforts to escape his married state. It’s a misuse of power of the sort you get in feudal systems where power resides in the hands of a single committee. Montesquieu warned us about this. Not in this series, of course, but back in 1748 when he wrote The Spirit of Laws.

Let the record show that I have clearly, firmly, and quite definitely denounced Falco’s actions as a deplorable misuse of power that demonstrates the violence inherent in the Barrayaran political system. Here’s the thing though: Ivan doesn’t want to be divorced.

At the end of his birthday dinner with the Galenis, Ivan noted that Duv’s party days were over, and that probably suited Duv down to the ground. AND INDEED IT DID. We took a long look at Duv’s personal finances back when he was working at the Barrayaran Embassy on Earth, and there was not a lot of partying even then. He mostly bought books. That was some years ago. Now Duv has TODDLERS. At least one toddler, anyway. I don’t read the specifics as important. Everyone in the third volume of a romance trilogy has at least one baby to show how very much in love they are, and the star couple has twins, because the strength of their love causes hyperfertility (although in fairness, in Miles and Ekaterin’s case they have twins because they can and because Miles is an overachiever—and I’m not as snarky about it as I would usually be because they used uterine replicators). Which couples had how many children and when will only matter if Bujold writes a next generation novel. I believe I have already made it clear that if she ever does I WOULD READ THAT. Enthusiastically. Especially if it features Taura and she meets Elli Quinn. But I’m not picky! Anyway it works out is fine! I hope that I didn’t condemn four Vorkosigan children, two Vorrutyers and a Naismith to a horrible death by writing that. But I would read that too.

Anyway, Ivan is also ready to end his wild-groat-sowing partying days, if he ever cared for them at all. He’s bought a copy of Great Houses and spent whole evenings playing it with Tej and Rish. He’s considered moving to a larger flat. Wouldn’t be hard! His mother owns the building! He wants Rish off his couch. He’s enjoying the sex. These are the actions of a married man who wants to stay married. He can’t hurt Tej—he doesn’t want to, and his family would kill him. Tej can’t hurt him—she doesn’t want to either. Neither of them wants to be unfaithful. Their only path to divorce is through abandonment. Once Tej leaves Barrayar and doesn’t come back, Ivan will be an abandoned spouse and will be able to petition for divorce. Successfully this time. This will create inconvenience for both Ivan and Tej, but they will be divorced and if that’s all they want, that should be all they need. Apparently, what Ivan wants is sex, coffee, takeout food, and board games. Marriage to Ivan sounds like a hoot.

Ivan is working out how to ask Tej to marry him for real—or at least to not divorce him and give marriage a good go. I think he’s about 28 hours from working it out when Tej’s family arrives. The whole family. ALL OF THEM.

Tune in next week when we meet Tej’s parents and almost all of her siblings!

Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer teaches history and reads a lot.

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