As a Science Fiction reader, there are few classics, celebrated authors, important series that I have not taken a dip into at some point or another. However, I’ve always kind of avoided the Vorkosigan Saga. When looking for the next thing to read, it always gets touted as “the best” or “in the top SF series ever written.” I don’t know if it’s the sheer number of volumes, the reviews it gets as space opera, or – just being honest – that it has a female author that has kept me so reticent all these years. Probably it’s because I’ve never had a friend of mine – and this is amazing due to its popularity – never tell me I should read them. Well I finally broke down and started the series, and guess what? It’s good.
One of the difficult things about the Vorkosigan Saga is where to start. I would avoid trying to decipher the reading order initially from all the fan sites and reviewers. The books are now being put into chronological order instead of publication date. While this is fine and dandy, I don’t know if it does the series any favors. Shards of Honor was the first novel in the series published (even though now it gets called Book 2), and I think it’s a great place to start to get the tenor of Bujold’s writing. It’s pre-Miles, the hero that drives most of the following books, but it situates the universe well. And, it provides the historical backdrop for most of the following stories.
Cordelia Naismith is a captain in a planetary survey for Beta Colony. Her goal is to scientifically chart new worlds and their natural characteristics. Unknowingly she stumbles into intrigue that involves Barrayar – a military based society that is trying to flex its muscles. She finds herself united with Aral Vorkosigan, a Barrayaran commander, that is fighting his own internal political battle with members of his planet’s ruling elite. Together they walk a knife’s edge of loyalty, subterfuge, and honor while the fate of planets hangs in the balance.
There is a lot going for this book. Great action sequences, large scale interplanetary strategy, traitors, and spies, but at the heart what wins the day is the relationship between Naismith and Vorkosigan. Bujold expertly writes the “human” factor. While the heavens may be in chaos, she makes sure to keep the story honed in on the thoughts and feelings of her main characters. This is why the series is so well liked. You relate to the characters. You become enmeshed with their lives and hope for their good. Sure there are many well crafted meta-storylines creating the high drama, but it’s the drama of the heart that makes this book a winner.
Shards of Honor is not the best book in the series, but it’s a great introduction. Fast paced, witty, and grand in scope, I bet you, like me, will have to read more.
Audible listeners: Grover Gardner is an excellent reader. He brings out the best in this book.
6.5 stars out of 10
Love this author! Her stories are riveting, and she makes you fall in love with her characters. The narrator is excellent, very soothing voice, wonderful articulation, and gives the stories a Heinlein-esque vibe somehow. My husband and I usually will wait for each other when listening to audiobooks, and only listen to them together, but I must admit that I jumped ahead of him on this one! 🙊🙈
I don't think the audio edition is better than the print version but it's close.
When Aral asks Cordelia to marry him when they've never even kissed.
Wonderful, even the women's voices were great.
I reacted mostly to the romantic sections of the book which made me go, "Awww."
I'm doing a re-read by audiobook.
Love this series. I am crazy about how these two disparate people find enough in common to fall in love. My favorite book of the series. Grover Gardner does a fantastic job with the narration.
Narrator brought the well written characters to life.
The plot is very unexpected and constantly moving. I was impressed.
The main character is a woman but the majority of characters in the story are men from Barrayar. Not only does he suit perfectly for that strong warrior class of Barrayar men, but he can switch to the female voice in a way which magically works. You don't notice the switch like other narrators I've heard.
Very well written and intelligent.
Just, UGH. The "love" story was puerile and melodramatic, bordering on the ridiculous, the "action" was contrived, and the "intrigue" was a mere afterthought as a superficial plot device. The dialogue and plot reminds one of the post-Victorian era pieces in pulp magazines (which can be fun when you are in the mood for that sort of thing), rather than having been written in the 1980's. Perhaps the stories get better as the series continues, but I definitely won't be continuing it to find out.
Fewer references to the doctor's observations of her attraction to Vorkosian.
Average reader with average voice.
I didn't get that far to figure that out.
This book is not particularly well written. I can force myself through it, so I'm returning it.
Definitely a female author. A little too "touchy-feely" for me. Story has a lot of dangling threads - unfulfilling, incomplete. My overall opinion of the book is, "Meh."