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Science Fiction on a Personal Level,
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This review is from: Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
Barrayar follows on immediately from Bujold's earlier Shards of Honor, and continues the trials and tribulations of Cordelia Vorkosigan (nee Naismith) and her new husband Aral, suddenly-appointed regent of the eponymous world.
We follow Cordelia as she struggles to adjust to Aral's new responsibilities, her own unique place in Barrayaran society, and the beginnings of her pregnancy with their first child. Barrayar is far different from her own home, with a strictly stratified class structure, extreme notions of war and honour and a resistance to change.
Not all of Barrayar is happy with Aral's appointment, nor his proposed reforms, and soon the story shifts to encompass both political intrigue and the threat of violence. A midstory event (which I won't spoil here) changes everything, and soon Cordelia must risk everything to save what she cares about.
This book is beautifully written, with Bujold giving each character their own distinct voice and motivations. She is equally adept with moving character scenes and tense action sequences.
Cordelia in particular is probably the most human character I have read in a SF book in a long time. She is sympathetic throughout, as she deals with an antagonistic father-in-law, the romantic frustrations of her friends/staff and the turmoil of the disturbed armsman Bothari.
I haven't gone into too much detail on the twists and turns of the plot, because part of the enjoyment comes with the surprises the book throws up. But I would heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Shards of Honor, or indeed anyone who enjoys their science fiction with humanity, thoughtfulness and wit.