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Another entertaining Bujold novel (I expect no less). Barrayar won the Hugo Award. This books shows us the culture in Barrayar, the Vorkosigan home planet, and explains how Miles, the protagonist of most of the VORKOSIGAN books, became deformed.
I am listening to the Vorkosigan books in order, as many recommend. So this is my second one, after Shards of Honor. I enjoyed the first book, and like the second one even more.
While listening to this book on my way to work and back home, I often find myself drive slower or even stay parked in the driveway to hear how the story develops. Particularly the latter part of this book (I won't spoil anything) keeps you on the edge of your seat as the pace picks up and tension mounts to the climax. And then you are still left wondering what happened to certain crucial characters in the book.
So, the book has plenty of action. Fine and well worth reading for that. Where it exceeds a normal action book is the depth of its characters: Aral, Cordelia and to a lesser extent Piotr, Bothari, Kou and Drou can be understood and up to a point empathise with. The star of course is Cordelia, who almost always seem to keep her nerve and never rises to pure emotional reactions.
This is maybe the only drawback of this book, and that is where I give it 4 instead of 5 stars. Aral and Cordelia are a bit too perfect for me. Sure, they get mad, and make emotional decisions. But they seem to never be overwhelmed, or too upset to think clearly, even when the world around them is in total chaos. This makes the book a bit too predictable at critical times, because you feel what the right decision would be (for A or C) and that is also what they do in the story.
Nonetheless, thoroughly enjoyable for readers of soft SF (no robots or aliens) who are also interested in character development.
Grover Gardner is a fine reader.
This is the one that explains Miles' physical limitations to us all, for the books to come. It also gives us a good look into Barrayaran politics, which is important to understanding the "why" of most of what happens later.
These books are ALL wonderful, and you can't go wrong reading, um, listening to them.
This is like a prequel to the Miles Vorkosigan series. It was enjoyable to get to know Miles parents and what they went through to bring Miles into this world. Their personalities are funny as well as courageous and down-to-earth inspite of their high standing in their world. I read A Civil Campaign first, which is like almost the last one in the Miles Vorkosigan series and then this book. So, now I guess I need to read in between some.... Funny, romantic, dramatic, adventurous -- it's all there.
Last summer when I listened to the end of "Shards of Honor" I immediately began anticipating the release of the rest of Cordelia's story in "Barrayar". Grover Gardner's voice once again brought the characters to life, and made the story even better than reading it does. I found new insights and new questions about the story and the interactions between the characters. Well done!!
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
An excellent back-fill of Miles' origins. I really liked how characters that play a big role later in Miles' life are introduced and developed here. Cordelia is also interesting as a character on her own - trying to make it in a world very different from her home planet.
There is no confusion as to what political stance Bujold holds, but it isn't overwhelming or condescending. There's enough action and suspense to keep the story moving forward, but the book has a huge character and society development component to it. After the denouement there is still quite a bit of "story" to read - there is no action or suspense in this part, but it's very interesting if you really want to know how Miles (and his compatriots) came to be.
The narrator is the same as in the rest of the Miles' books - he does a good job but, since the main character is Cordelia, it was a bit odd to hear the voice I associated with Miles in the other books when Cordelia was talking.
This is, to some extent, the tale regarding the circumstances around the birth of a baby. It is true the baby is of noble blood and the circumstances are full of treachery and blood, with the heroics of mother outshining the wisdom of generals. It, however, is still his tale and his birth is both a delight and a bitter draught. Born into power and into pain in sorrow, this baby's coming heralds much.
The setting is very interesting with characters from different planets and backgrounds. The characters all have interesting points of view. The story has action and interpersonal relationships. Fun!
Barrayar starts the same day as Bujold’s first Vorkosigan novel, Shards of Honor, leaves off. It fills in the drama that takes place during Cordelia’s pregnancy with Miles that was alluded to in The Warrior’s Apprentice. Written with the typical pace and wit that this series has become known for, this action packed installment won yet another well deserved Hugo Award for Ms. Bujold. If you’ve made it this far into the series, come back to old friends and enjoy the ride.
Cordelia Naismith – now Lady Vorkosigan – takes up the lead role that had been laid down for the future based books about her son. While Miles’ quick thinking and preternatural skill of getting himself into one jam after another can be good reading, it’s a nice change of pace to read how Cordelia solves problems that she did not take part in creating. Her strength and resiliency grounds the story in a way only adults can.
The tale essentially becomes one of survival as civil war breaks out on Barrayar as the old guard of politicians try to keep the newly appointed Regent Aral Vorkosigan out of power following the Emporer’s death. Evading assassination attempts, capture, and betrayal, Cordelia and the faithful Sergeant Bothari must do what they can to remain free – and keep her unborn child Miles alive. The story builds quickly into an all out sprint that doesn’t end until all Barryar has been changed. Yet again, the Vorkosigans are at the middle of events that shake the galaxy. Just a normal tale for this family.
Few authors provide such easy and enjoyable reading as Lois Bujold. Even if you’re not a science fiction reader, these stories are about the inner and outer struggles of life. Plus they’re a whole lot of fun. Highly recommended!
Audible listeners: Grover Gardner is a great reader!
7 stars out of 10
I loved this whole book. Seriously. I liked the previous (chronologically) book but it had a few things that annoyed me. This one, however, was just right. Lots of action, lots of weird cultural things to learn about, both Barrayaran and Betan), further development of a number of characters from the previous book and a few new ones, weird technology, crazy politics and military shenanigans, outdoorsy action, just the whole gamut of interesting plots and places. This book made me laugh and cry and both shocked and amazed me, at times.
By the end of this book, the reader knows quite a bit about Barrayar, its culture and history and so forth. The reader learns along with the protagonist, Cornelia. We also learn about Cornelia's home, the Betan colony, through contrasts in technology, culture, beliefs, and behavior become apparent.
I listened to this book on audible, mostly, and read parts as well. The narrater, Grover Gardner, is excellent.
I can't wait to move on to the next book in the series chronology.