27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic chronological start to an outstanding series,
This review is from: Cordelia's Honor (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures) (Mass Market Paperback)
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.