Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Shards of Honor

Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga, #1)Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book in Bujold’s wildly popular Miles Vorkosigan series. In fact, it’s technically the 0th book in the series, because this is pre-Miles; it tells the story of how his parents met, and introduces us to pivotal characters and events that influence the entire series. It really should be read before any other books in the series.

We meet his mother, Cordelia Naismith, an officer in the Beta Colony Expeditionary Force. She is leading a scientific mission to an inhabited planet. While she and another crew member are away from their base camp, the camp is attacked by forces unknown. As Cordelia rushes back to aid her crew, she is attacked and knocked unconscious. When she awakens, a gruff officer from Barrayar (a military caste planet) is her captor. But he is wounded, and also seems to be a victim of the attack. Nevertheless, they do not trust each other, at first, but as they make their way to what he says is a cache of supplies, they begin to find admiration for each other, despite their differences. (Beta Colony is very “free” sexually, and has no rigid societal rules, while Barrayar is ruled by an emperor and the military ruling class of Vor families.) We discover that her captor is Lord Aral Vorkosigan, of one of the more prominent families on Barrayar.

After several harrowing close calls, Aral manages to return to his ship, with Cordelia as a prisoner. We discover that Barrayar is attempting military expansion in the area. Events ensue such that Cordelia manages to escape and eventually return to Beta Colony.

Months later, the war progresses, and once again Cordelia ends up a prisoner on Aral’s ship. Critical events transpire on this ship, this time, and Aral and Cordelia realize they are in love. (At last!) The book ends on a hopeful note for all concerned.

The plot moves along at a brisk pace, and the blossoming romance is handled with a minimum of “cute.” (It is nice to have a mature romantic relationship, and not moody, emo teen romance!) We learn much about both Cordelia and Aral - their backgrounds, planets, and especially their shared sense of honor. All of this sets up the appearance of Miles in later books. But, even as a stand-alone novel, this is a good space opera, with a nice little romance thrown in for good measure. A most enjoyable read!

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