Warning: Contains spoilers for previous VORKOSIGAN books.
Winterfair Gifts is a novella that tells the story of Miles Vorkosigan’s wedding to the widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson. It you want to follow the chronology, it should be read after A Civil Campaign and before Diplomatic Immunity. You will probably also want to first read the short story “Labyrinth” which can be found as a stand-alone or in the novel Borders of Infinity.
This story is told from the perspective of one of Miles’ new armsmen — Roic — who we (or at least I) remember fondly as the tall muscular guard who was nearly naked and slathered in bug butter in A Civil Campaign. Here he recounts the wedding preparations and the arrival of the guests, including many old friends, at Vorkosigan house.
One of the special wedding guests is Taura, the weregirl who Miles saved from a Jackson Whole dungeon in “Labyrinth.” At first Roic is frightened by Taura, but when Alice Vorpatril gets a hold of her, Taura is transformed into the beauty that Miles knows she can be. Besides being pretty, Roic soon learns that Taura is also interesting, brave, smart, and maybe most importantly to Roic, she’s loyal to Miles. Together Roic and Taura uncover an assassination plot and save the day.
Winterfair Gifts is an important part of the VORKOSIGAN saga partly because it reunites many of Miles’ friends and describes the wedding. (Unfortunately, it didn’t help me like Ekaterin any better.) This story is also of interest because its point of view character is one of the people who works for the Vorkosigans, so we get a feel for “below stairs” life in a Vor family. But mostly Winterfair Gifts is important because it sets up Roic as a competent (though not yet confident) armsman who we’ll be seeing more of in subsequent books. Self-confidence is a theme in Winterfair Gifts — both Roic and Taura grow in that area.
Winterfair Gifts was nominated for a Hugo Award. I listened to Grover Gardener narrate Blackstone Audio’s version.