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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2002
I write this primarily to note to others browsing for an excellent read (which this book most certainly is!) that it is NOT, however, a Star Trek novel of any sort. _Shards of Honor_ is Lois McMaster Bujold's first published novel, and the stage-setter for the rest of her extraordinary Vorkosigan series. It's a marvelous book from a master storyteller and will certainly whet the reader's appetite for more, more, more... though not to worry, there *are* (many more, that is!). The complete Vorkosigan saga is, to date, up to the fourteenth volume.
Also, the rather anemic-sounding synopsis doesn't begin to describe it, either accurately or with any real sense of the page-turning treat it truly is. Merely recommending that you "Read this book, it will delight you" isn't quite enough, in my opinion; the better phrase would be: "Meet these people, you will come to love them as among the best of fictional friends you will ever know."
Did you note that this edition is marked unavailable? Well, not to disappoint. Browse for _Cordelia's Honor_, which is an omnibus edition containing both _Shards_ and the novel which immediately follows it in the series timeline, _Barrayar_.
Do, really. Then make room in your bookshelves for all the others. In fact, clear that space as soon as you order--you're going to need it.... ;D
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I was introduced to Lois McMaster Bujold's work through her fantasy novels "The Curse of Chalion" and "Paladin Of Souls", both of which deserve ten stars at least. Having devoured those books (not literally) I decided to read some other stuff by her - this time in the Science Fiction genre. My library kindly offered up "Shards of Honour" and what a brilliant read it was.
Most fortuitously, I now discover I happened upon the initial instalment of what has become a whole series of books (16 to date) in the Miles Vorkosigan series (I've bought the rest and am working my way through them. I liked this first one that much!) But don't worry that this book is incomplete on its own - it isn't. Although it's the scene-setter for a lot of other books it works on its own as a story of politics, war, human nature, personality and love.
Cordelia Naismith is the captain of a Survey ship that is checking out a new planet. She's off in the undergrowth with her botanist when her base camp is attacked and her colleagues flee in the shuttle. When going back to investigate Cordelia and her companion are attacked and she loses consciousness. When she wakes up, there is a soldier guarding her.
And from this point the story diverges from a basic "heroine rescues herself from tricky situation" type story. Cordelia and her 'captor', who says he is Captain Aral Vorkosigan, have to make a journey 200kms across this unknown and, as it turns out, rather dangerous planet in order to find a cache of stores and a way for Vorkosigan to communicate with his ship. It appears that there has been a mutiny in his command and he was knocked out and left on the surface of the planet. Cordelia has to accept his help in making their way to the cache and also with her botanist who was badly injured in the attack by Vorkosigan's colleagues, the Barrayarans. The Barrayarans are known as a warlike and rather uncivilised planet compared to Cordelia's Betans and she knows that Vorkosigan has the nickname "The Butcher of Komarr" from the story that he killed all the prisoners of another planet, Komarr, after they surrendered.
But nothing is as it seems - for Cordelia, and especially not in Barrayaran politics. In their six day journey they come to understand something of each other, and the fact that they both have a sense of honour that, although different, is complementary. Cordelia is eventually rescued from her prisoner status on Vorkosigan's ship by some of her Betan colleagues, but the dividing line of "goodies" and "baddies" is no longer clear. Especially after Vorkosigan proposes marriage to her.
The story continues with them meeting again - in the middle of a war - and Cordelia's brush with the evil side of Barrayaran culture. Once again she is returned to Beta Colony, but now she no longer fits there, and in fact discovers the bad side of her planet that cannot understand the Barrayarans and cannot allow them redeeming features. Cordelia has to escape her own people to be reunited with Vorkosigan. The enemy has become her home.
What's so powerful about this book is that although the writing is light and the story moves on with pace, there is great depth to the characters. You feel like you really get to know them, understand them, understand what they see in each other, and understand why neither of them is at home with their planet because they are intelligent enough to see beyond the obvious to the disadvantages of both of their ways of life. The love affair side is understated but very well done at that, and the politics is explained in such a way that it works well in the story and is actually interesting. No mean feat!
Some of the characters in this story appear in the others, particularly Cordelia and Vorkosigan, and the book "Barrayar" is the direct sequel to this and deals further with Cordelia, Aral Vorkosigan and their son Miles (the rest of the books are mostly set 20-30 years after the events in this book).
It's a great start to an excellent series, and yet worth reading in its own right - over and over again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2011
Now, when I first started this book, my second foray into the Vorkosigan Saga, I had to roll my eyes at the initial setup. I'm genre/fiction savvy enough to know what happens when a female pacifistic scientist and a male stiff-necked soldier are thrown together in the wilds of an alien planet. And, indeed, I would be lying if I said the book didn't head in the general direction I was expecting.

However, the pleasures in this engrossing story are found in the details of the journey, not merely the destination. The twists and turns of the protagonist duo's relationship are enthralling, because Bujold crafts the intelligent, thoughtful Cordelia and the conflicted, trapped Aral with such skill as to make the reader root for them the whole way.

As well as a star-crossed romance, the author also manages to work in the ramifications of an interstellar war and the dangers of propaganda-led, knee-jerk reactions. With some abruptness, we are also shown how the main pair become part of a particularly nasty bit of political skullduggery.

While not ending on a cliffhanger exactly, the end of the book makes it clear that our heroes' journey is not over yet; considering how enjoyable this installment was to read, I have no qualms about continuing on to the next story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2002
This is a book that I return to time and again, and it's worth it every time. You can read it on so many levels, thumping good sci-fi, the characters are real ppl, the politic challenges, the differing societies. This wasn't the first Bujold book I read, but it is the one I read most often. I like Miles and the books about him, but I love Cordelia, and I return to her as I do to many old friends, to check out aspects of my own life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The book (without giving away too many spoilers): Commander Cordelia Naismith is working on an uninhabited planet for her Government's Survey Service. A sudden attack on her camp leads to a long trek through hostile territory; and eventually leads to captivity which - being a rather strong personality - she turns into something quite unexpected. Military strategy mixed with planetary politics mixed with romance, with strong personalities, weak politicians, and evil in various forms.

The author: Lois McMaster Bujold has written several series of books (including the Vorkosigan Saga, of which is the first part, and consisting of a series of full-length books as well as short stories) and several stand-alone novels. She has won the Hugo four times, as well as the Nebula twice, the Mythopoeic Award, the World Fantasy Award, and recently the Skylark Award.

My opinion: Bujold can write like a dream, and does so here. I am a sucker for her style, her imagination, and her personalities: vivid, fully three-dimensional, many things implied and not spelled out completely; humor, love, and a consistent Universe (well, kind of anyway). She writes with *feeling*, with soul; and manages to convey that so you feel a lot of the personalities' grief, fury, fear and joy. I love the whole of the Vorkosigan Saga, and this one is a brilliant start!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2002
I write this primarily to note to others browsing for an excellent read (which this book most certainly is!) that it is NOT, however, a Star Trek novel of any sort. _Shards of Honor_ is Lois McMaster Bujold's first published novel, and the stage-setter for the rest of her extraordinary Vorkosigan series. It's a marvelous book from a master storyteller and will certainly whet the reader's appetite for more, more, more... though not to worry, there *are* (many more, that is!). The complete Vorkosigan saga is, to date, up to the fourteenth volume.
Also, the rather anemic-sounding synopsis doesn't begin to describe it, either accurately or with any real sense of the page-turning treat it truly is. Merely recommending that you "Read this book, it will delight you" isn't quite enough, in my opinion; the better phrase would be: "Meet these people, you will come to love them as among the best of fictional friends you will ever know."
Did you note that this edition is marked unavailable? Well, not to disappoint. Browse for _Cordelia's Honor_, which is an omnibus edition containing both _Shards_ and the novel which immediately follows it in the series timeline, _Barrayar_.
Do, really. Then make room in your bookshelves for all the others. In fact, clear that space as soon as you order--you're going to need it.... ;D
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2004
Whilst there is one novel set earlier in the same time-line, this is a 2-in-1 volume of the novels Cordelia's Honour and Barrayar, which form a sort of prologue to the series that is commonly referred to as the Vorkosiverse and most people assume that this is due to the principle protaganist of the latter novels, Miles Vorkosigan. This is the story of his parents. I make this statement because I read Shards of Honour after novels such as the Warrior's Apprentice, the Vor Game, etc, and so this was more of a filling in of the back ground. I'm not sure what I would have made of it if I had read these first. The synopsis above is correct in the essential details although the first mission is actually the survey mission with the "throw-away" ship coming later Whilst quite dark in some places the series is full of wit and humour, as well as excellent writing, and these early novels are no exception. They are, perhaps, a little less polished than the latter ones, but Bujold not at her best is still a lot better than many other writers. These are either an essential read for those already hooked on the series, or a good starting place for those who wish to learn what good SF is all about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The book (without giving away too many spoilers): Commander Cordelia Naismith is working on an uninhabited planet for her Government's Survey Service. A sudden attack on her camp leads to a long trek through hostile territory; and eventually leads to captivity which - being a rather strong personality - she turns into something quite unexpected. Military strategy mixed with planetary politics mixed with romance, with strong personalities, weak politicians, and evil in various forms.

The author: Lois McMaster Bujold has written several series of books (including the Vorkosigan Saga, of which is the first part, and consisting of a series of full-length books as well as short stories) and several stand-alone novels. She has won the Hugo four times, as well as the Nebula twice, the Mythopoeic Award, the World Fantasy Award, and recently the Skylark Award.

My opinion: Bujold can write like a dream, and does so here. I am a sucker for her style, her imagination, and her personalities: vivid, fully three-dimensional, many things implied and not spelled out completely; humor, love, and a consistent Universe (well, kind of anyway). She writes with *feeling*, with soul; and manages to convey that so you feel a lot of the personalities' grief, fury, fear and joy. I love the whole of the Vorkosigan Saga, and this one is a brilliant start!

Note: this is, of course, the same as 'Cordelia's Honor' - don't know why publishers change these titles. Well, yes I do - it is to make more money on poor fools who think it is a different book. But You Have Been Warned!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2005
Captain Cordelia Naismith of the Betan Survey found that the planet she and her crew were surveying was absolutely fine for colonisation. There was just one little catch; the planet was already occupied by Barrayaran forces. The brutal reputation the Barrayarans had gained ever since they had been reintroduced to the galaxy appeared to be nothing but the truth when Cordelia found her camp destroyed and a colleague hit by a nerve disrupter. Now all Cordelia had to do was survive a hike across a barely known planet with her badly wounded colleague. And the Barrayaran known as the Butcher of Komarr. In that strange trek, hatred became something else. Something that Cordelia refused to believe was love.
This is the first book in the Vorkosiganiverse and is effectively the first half of a story that is continued in 'Barrayar'(note, both books can be obtained in an omnibus edition 'Cordelia's Honor'). Despite this, it is an assured start with the changing relationship between Cordelia and Aral nicely delineated. The Betan society is not closely examined but the bits we see are nicely done. Most of the Barrayarans are rather stock characters in this book, largely due to the fact that this story and 'Barrayar' were originally conceived as a single book so you would see Barrayaran society over a longer period.
There are a number of characters that we meet here that continue through the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 17 January 2013
Captain Cordelia Naismith meets Admiral Aral Vorkosigan - she is from a peaceful, democratic, liberal planet; he is notorious as the Butcher of Komarr - and yet there is a strange affinity between them...

In the first of the Vorkosigan Saga, we are introduced to the couple who will become Miles Vorkosigan's parents. It's extremely rare for me to read any kind of sci-fi or space opera, but this is a good series which hangs on complicated plots and great characterisation. I've dipped in and out of the series rather than reading it right the way through so it is nice to get right back to the start.

Bujold often mixes genres - here romance with a sci-fi plot involving colonial wars and political assassination - and pulls them off brilliantly. This doesn't have the same level of comedy as some of the later Miles books I've read, but compensates with emotional depth, especially around Aral Vorkosigan. This is a good read even for those of us who don't normally like the genre.
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