on 23 January 2003
It's fun to follow a series you enjoy from the publishing of the first novel, where you can feel your enjoyment grows with the evolution of the series - I feel like I'm in on the secret of how good the series is from the start. But what a joy it is to find an established series and gorge yourself on it to repletion. This is what I have found with the reading of this the first 2 books combined into one volume of the multi Hugo award winning series Vorkosigan Series. It is densely written, full of emotions, politics (yes, Bjuold is able to successfully merge the two), military manoeuvrings and to some extent science. Something for every reader of both science fantasy, and I think also science fiction.
These 2 books (Shards of Honor and Barrayar) are well paired together. They feature the story of how Cordelia Naismith, eventually Mile's mother, comes to meet Lord Aral Vorkosigan. In Shards of Honor the two 'enemies' come to find each other, to survive physical hardship together, and to conquer their emotional pain and fear together. Literally from different worlds, they must play the star crossed pair for most of the book, and Bjuold describes well the pain and loss that Cordelia feels, as the book is told entirely from her viewpoint. Although at first she decides to return to her own 'side' in the interplanetary war, ultimately she joins Aral in Barrayar - there is no doubt of the joy they find in each other. Her leaving her home is not without cost, but the scene in the pavilion where she and Aral come together at last is the most touching of the book.
Barrayar extends from that start, showing Aral and Cordelia's new life together on Barrayar. The feelings of homesickness she undergoes, and regret for the loss of the superior facilities - especially medical - of her own planet are a running theme of the book, as they would be in real life. The politics are less complicated here - I sometimes got lost in 'Shards of Honor' on this point - but nonetheless the foundation of the plot line. Aral is now Regent to the young emperor, and the political intrigues that job brings touches on all aspects of their lives. Aral and Cordelia have to find their feet in a slippery political sphere, and it is not without cost that they do so. Cost to innocents. There are more players here, and if you can work your way past the many 'Vor' prefixes (ruling caste) to sort out the individual players, in this book I found I got to know them more than in 'Shards of Honor' - particularly Sergeant Bothari, so badly damaged and strange (a unique relationship with Cordelia), Kou and Drou. Bjuold is not afraid to have characters come to an untimely end, as many military stories must, and even - or maybe especially - those on 'the right side'.
I loved these 2 stories, and the series promises to be a fantastic one.
on 5 June 1998
This book is a compilation containing, _Shards of Honor_ and _Barrayar_. Militaristic societies just aren't my thing and I wouldn't normally read books that focus on military heroes and war time exploits. So what got me to read these books? Cordelia. She's intelligent, independent, and in charge.
Cordelia is captain of a Betan expeditiary force exploring a new planet. Most of her crew are killed and she and her remaining crewmember, who is seriously injured, are taken prison by Aral Vorkosigan.
In their journey across the planet, Cordelia and Aral come to admire and trust each other. When next they met, they are on opposite sides of a nasty war. Honor and duty. These two strong characters must each in their own way come to terms with their committment to their subordinates, their governments, and themselves.
Cordelia is a strong character. One that I enjoyed meeting. Her honesty and integrity helped get me involved in this series.
on 5 August 1999
CORDELIA'S HONOR is a compilation of two of Bujold's novels: SHARDS OF HONOR and BARRAYAR. The main character in both is Cordelia Naismith. These are wonderful books, although I thought BARRAYAR is the better written of the two.
I suspect, however, that the person who wrote the above "synopsis" did not read this book at all. Cordelia is not forced into marriage, he is not her arch-enemy, and her husband is made Regent for the young Emperor, who is 5 years old.
If you have not read Lois McMaster Bujold, and you enjoy well-written, thoughtful novels with good characterizations and well-thought-out plots the READ this book. I envy you the opportunity to read her books for the first time.
on 3 October 1997
By Ed Burkhead
Shards of Honor: This book tells about how two really capable people met, fell in love, "fought" on oposite sides of a war, and handled the end of the war. As is obvious from the title, honor and doing one's duty is high in the theme of the book. But it also includes a lot of humor, pathos, struggle, etc. You will begin to really like the characters in these stories.
Barrayar: The couple, now married and pregnant, have assumed the job of being regents for the planet's child emperor. The child's emperor's vulnerability tempts a rebellion which must be overcome.
Bujold has created fictional characters I care about. If only they were real I would dearly love to move in with them and be part of their family. In spite of their faults, or more often because of them, their accomplishments approach super-human -- as they fall on their faces.
Though most all of the story in both books included in this volume is really engaging, let me summarize with this: near the end of Barrayar, stoic me both leaked actual tears then laughed out loud while reading a single page.
These, followed by "Warrior's Apprentice," and the rest of Bujold's books are now my 1st choice to recommend to anyone. Shards of Honor and Barrayar are chronologically 1st and 2nd in the lives of the characters. Feel free to read Warrior's Apprentice first if you choose.
on 26 March 1999
Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the best writers out there today, period. She's not afraid to put her characters into tough situations and she's not afraid to take risks.
Every time I read her books I am impressed all over again by how well she draws the reader into the universe where Cordelia and Aral live. I especially love all of Cordelia's comments about the barbarous Barrayaran society she's chosen to live in.
I have recommended this book to several people and all have enjoyed it. Others in the series that blew me away with their intensity were Memory and Komarr (her two latest about Cordelia and Aral's son, Miles.)
on 3 December 2011
The first thing I am going to say here is that the book cover is terrible, I would probably put it face down on a table in shame if I was reading it in public and someone walked past. In all honesty, the publisher Baen Books seem to have some pretty diabolical covers but this one has to be one of the worst I have seen. It would probably have put me off picking up the book if it wasn't for the book club which would have been a shame as I found it really enjoyable to read. I just wish that Baen would stop making their books look like some form of space-themed pulpy unsophisticated read.
The plot basically follows the relationship the occurs between Cordelia, hailing from the progressive Beta Colony, who is a scientist in command of a survey expedition and Aral from the Imperial and rather militarial planet of Barrayar who is an aristocrat and a soldier in command of a starship. A huge amount happens thoughout the novel around this relationship including mutiny, interplanetary wars, assasination attemps & civil wars. It would be insane of me to try and summarise this rather large story beyond this but I will just add that it is superb Space Opera that I think any Sci-Fi fan would love to read.
The two books that make up this omnibus do come across as being slighly different from each other in style which is probably due to the period of time that passed between Bujold writing each of them. "Shards of Honor" was written in quite a slow pace and seemed to concentrate on the romance and character development side of things. There was some adventure and excitement still but overall I think the book was more about the two main characters and understanding their actions and desires.
"Barrayar" on the other hand is told at a much faster pace and is tightly plotted with adventure, intrigue and political scheming throughout. Cordelia and Aral are still just as interesting to read about, but I think Bujold also expands the secondary characters well and creates new ones that are much more detailed and interesting that what I saw in "Shards of Honor". The book also provides much more information and detail about the society and culture that exists in the Universe Bujold has created which I was happy to see.
In the end though, the best aspect of the novel has to be the two main characters as they are well developed and the relationship formed between them is more realistic than many others I have read about. Cordelia is smart, determined, brave and a fundamentally likeable heroine whilst Aral is a man whose honour, strength and courage help him fight for what he believes in. Neither of them are perfect, but they both strive to do what is right and the dry sense of humour they have adds to the overall enjoyment of the story.
I now have to highlight the one annoying feature that I found in both parts of this omnibus. Basically, the naming of characters from the planet Barrayer at times caused me no end of problems. A lot of the higher ranked military personnel from Barrayer have the pre-fix "Vor" in their names. I had to keep trying to refer back to work out which Vor..... was which, especially when they were being discussed by a third party and there was no personality on display to help me remember. Not a major issue and I understand that it was part of the culture Bujold had created but it still bugged me. All I can do is say that you should stick to the written novel and avoid any audiobooks as I suspect they would be even more difficult to follow.
In summary, I think the best way to describe this book is that it is a superbly enjoyable character driven space opera sci-fi. The Sci-fi elements are used to create the plot and background, but it is the characters that really make this book appeal. I suspect it could have been set in a fantasy world, historical world or many others and it would still be a very enjoyable read. I therefore have to recommend this to any Sci-Fi reader out there who likes to read a story full of well developed and interesting characters. Personally, I enjoyed it so much that I have now actually picked up most of the novels in the overall Vorkosigan Saga and look forward to reading them in the near future.
on 12 April 2010
The Bujold 'Vorkosigan' books rival Weber's 'Honor' books, Moons 'Vatta' or 'Serrano' books, Mike Shepard's 'Longknife' books, or even Mcaffrey's storytelling. These are all excellent but Bujold surpases them (in my opinion): By intelligent sympathetic characters, their depth and values. She is more intereted in people than the world but doesn't stint on background, society, politics, geography and economy, in which her characters are formed and through which they move. She is not alone in choosing flawed or self-doubting characters, but Robin Hobb's various sagas are the only ones I feel do that better.
This is The First in the series; next comes Omnibus 2: 'Young Miles' without missing or duplicating anything: Oh for a proper collected works though, the later series is dreadfully mixed up (sometimes duplicated) in strange combinations not all of which are available in the same bindings. Makes library shelves awkward Mr Publisher! At least there is a chronology in the back of most editions. Only the single books are shown their places in the Saga there, omnibuses are not included; you have to read the omnibus front (or back) covers to work out which you need next.
- Shards of Honour: The meeting and warring of 2 principal and many subsidiary characters. The complex scene setting that will set a rich socio-political context for later books: It is gripping and has real ironic power for Miles (in later books) who only begins to guess at these events. Lots of hints make you wonder at Piotr's own youth! The action scenes just get better and better, and you just cannot put the book down! 'Courage and honour in adversity' could be any of the central players' motto.
- Barrayar: Allied at last, the pace and conflict do not let up. You will like the epic 'shopping' quip! The characters are all drawn in more depth and the world feels more real and clear. I love the choice of relevant details, working them into a gripping tapestry, and setting the scene for each action packed crisis: Wow!
I will not spoil the discovery that such a good read deserves by giving away the plot more. An epic all time classic
on 22 November 1996
These are both great books, and well worth reading, but
if you're like me and will eagerly snap up anything new
by Bujold you should know that according to the Seattle Public Library
catalog this is a combo edition
of Shards of Honor and Barrayar. (Right now, that's not
indicated in the Amazon catalog - feel free to remove this
review if that changes.)
on 9 April 1999
Ms. Bujold has quickly become one of my favorite authors. The development of her characters, with all their strengths and fears, mixed with the political intrigue of people caught in the nexus of civil war, kept me turning page after page..