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This installment is the follow-up to Shards of Honor. We learn more about Aral and Cordelia and just how nuts Barrayaran politics are. Lois McMaster Bujold is a phenomenal writer who consistently delivers fully developed, living characters who truly show the grays of real people. Furthermore, the narrator is a perfect pairing to the writing. Listen to these books. You will not regret the decision.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
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.
Life-long reader, 10 years listening
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 a continuation of Erol's & Cordelia's amazing love story amidst the crazy politics of Barrayar. The book contains full spectrum of emotion from beautiful to peaceful to serene to intense to life-threatening, and chock-full of rich character development. Oh yes...and Miles is born, who is the true centerpiece of priceless Saga.
Probably in the top 20.
I love how complexly messy things are from the personal to political. LMB doesn't have things just magically work out, and people don't necessarily get a happily ever after. However, Cordelia and Aral remain true to character and don't loose themselves in the roles they have to play, but show strength as true partners trusting each other to do their best. This is a huge strength in LMB's works in my opinion. If for nothing else read this novel for Cordelia's shopping gift to Aral, best Winterfair gift ever!
Honestly, I can't picture any other narrator for this series and his voice truly becomes Miles' voice in the later books in all it's manic glory.
The Soltoxin gas aftermath scenes.