Cordelia's Honor (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures) Mass Market Paperback – 3 Sep 1999
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In this two-part story, Cordelia Naismith, made an outcast after being forced into marriage with her arch enemy, finds further trouble when her husband is made the guardian of the infant heir to the imperial throne.
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608 pages, composed from (more easily available separately):
- '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 their later books, which these events shape so fundamentally. 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. Limited combat, with all the detail in the human experience, very little on the tech, and all the better for it.
- 'Barrayar': Allied at last, the pace and conflict do not let up. Again battles focus on the visceral human experience and are very richly narrated. You will like the epic 'shopping' quip (the big one near the end, not the earlier tourist's culture shock)! 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! Lots of hints in the world building are very well done, making you wonder: How does a star faring culture handle centuries of isolation and eventual rediscovery? What shaped some key characters' childhoods. Wow! Again!
I will not spoil the discovery that such a good read deserves by giving away the plot more. An epic all time classic.
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.
The first (no spoilers) deals with a Space exploration survey team captain, Coredlia of the title, on a newly discovered wild world dealing with enemy soldiers and intrigue upon intrigue. The second book is about Cordelia on a foreign planet, married to a powerful Lord...the couple get involved in high powered politics and civil war, intrigue and espionage.
You will tell from the above that this novel does not contain huge space battles, or even big futuristic battles dirtside. The novel is more about Cordelia and her experience of the events. It is never a boring read and it is from a feminine viewpoint which does fascinate me as a man.
Personally I think this book should be recommended reading for all adolescent boys, to make them more aware of how the other half of the population think about certain things.
However, I am only marking this book as 4 stars out of 5.
Partly because it contains some very cliche characters (the quiet self tortured but loyal aide, the estranged couple that the main characters chuckle about because their shattered love is so easy to fix if only they knew how they felt about each other, etc etc
Partly because although never boring the novel never really gets exciting either. Cordelia is in the midst of hugely important events but the author manages to reduce the situation down to her really wanting a bath, which I would have to call male chauvinism if the author was not a woman!
Bujold's Vorkosigan works buck the trend. There are 19(?) stories detailing the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan and his parents, but read them all and you will never feel that you are merely reading a rehash of an earlier work and you will never feel that the author is churning anything out just to make a quick buck. The early delight is maintained. There is so much to enjoy. Cliffhangers, adventure, romance, mystery, emotion, psychology, politics and sparkling dialogue throughout.
The 5* review is not just for this book therefore, but for the entire series. I enjoyed these books so much that I deliberately chose *not* to devour them (preferring to savour them at intervals instead). Having just read the final work in the series, "Cryoburn", I shed hot tears at one passage which is pretty rare for a tightly buttoned middle-aged British male. In my defence I'm pretty sure that Bujold cried too, when she wrote it...