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Customer reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars

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.

Composed from:
- 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
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on 22 January 2009
This book is actually 2 in 1, so you get great value for money. Not a thick novel however the font is quite small and close together and page margins are minimal, so lots to read!

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!
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on 3 July 2014
lovely book taut pace and interesting characters
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on 12 August 2015
I find Bujold's work fascinating and engaging. I wish I could write this well!
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on 21 May 2015
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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.
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on 3 February 2017
When an author writes a long series of books using the same characters there is a tendency for the plots to become stale and formulaic after a while. This tendency is particularly strong in F&SF genre, but not limited to it. O'Briens Aubrey and Maturin books drag badly after the first few brilliant stories, for example.

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...
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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.
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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.
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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.
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