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Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga (Publication) #1)

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  20,085 Ratings  ·  1,157 Reviews
Cordelia Naismith, Betan Survey Captain, was expecting the unexpected: hexapods, floating creatures, odd parasites... She was not, however, expecting to find hostile humans on an uninhabited planet. And she wasn't really expecting to fall in love with a 40-plus barbarian known to cosmopolitan galactics as the Butcher of Komarr. Will Mother ever understand? And can such an ...more
Paperback, 313 pages
Published June 1986 by Baen Books (first published 1986)
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Popular Answered Questions

Blake I would not call this a "romance." It's more like science fiction action with a love story.
Sheryl Hill None of Bujold's books contain explicit sexual content.

Community Reviews

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
An all-time SF favorite! Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Shards of Honor (often packaged with Barrayar and sold as Cordelia's Honor) is one of those SF space opera books that I love beyond reason and pull off my bookshelf every few years to reread, contentedly immersing myself in Bujold’s well-imagined world and the relationship between two characters I adore.

A bit of background: I started my VORKOSIGAN SAGA experience years ago when I grabbed A Civil Campaign off the library s
mark monday
Cordelia Naismith is the captain of an astronomical survey ship from the peaceful Beta Colony. Lord Aral Vorkosigan is the leader of a secret military mission from the warlike planet Barrayar. the title "Shards of Honor" no doubt refers to the small bits of honor that Aral must cling to as he finds himself a central figure in a massive undertaking that will sacrifice thousands of innocents for the greater good; it also may refer to the honor that Cordelia herself gains and loses and gains again ...more
okay, so let me just say that i was totally dreading this book.

i promised some of the ladies in my online life that i would "read more fantasy" and this was suggested, even though this is more sci-fi/space opera to my untrained eyes, yeah?? i mean - where are my unicorns!? just one token unicorn will do!

this cover's got spaceships on it, and laser beams and futuristic clothing, and that is just not appealing to me, as a reader. i look at books like this, and i feel like the author probably will
Feb 01, 2017 Evgeny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
A buddy read with Choko.

Commander Cordelia Naismith of Beta Colony and her crew were doing some harmless exploration on an unassuming planet when Barrayars (guys from another planet) decided they like the place. Some unforeseen circumstances made them attack Betans which resulted in Cordelia and a high-ranking Barrayar officer Aral Vorkosigan being stranded on the planet with the former being a prisoner of the latter - sort of.

At this point practically anybody can figure out these two were dest
Feb 02, 2017 Choko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
*** 4 ***

A buddy read with Evgeny!

This was the first time we got to meet a Vorkosigan, the family name after which this series is named. From what I have learned, he ends up being the father of the main protagonist in the series as we go along. Although Vorkosigan is a perfect specimen of a man, smart, handsome, honorable, alpha as one can get, but sensitive and thoughtful, he is still lacking in comparison with the young female commander from Beta Colony, Cordelia N. She is everything I would l
Feb 09, 2011 j rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to j by: Elizabeth
What happened? What are these sensible, mature adults doing in the middle of my space opera? Where are the hot-headed, brash heroes? Where is the sass-mouthed young princess? WHERE ARE THE ROBOTS AND ALIENS?

This is not your father's science-fiction novel. But it might be your mother's. I don't mean that in a sexist or dismissive way, but reading this book felt more like reading a romance than it did a sci-fi book. I don't mean a bodice-ripping (space bodice!) romance, but a realistic, measured a
Be warned: the jacket blurb describes only a minor portion of the story.

My version, you ask?


Love in the background of space opera! Female captain leads research team investigating exotic planet. Expedition is attacked and a researcher is killed. Hostile man takes woman prisoner, and they fall in love while death-marching across alien planet. Alas! Woman and man are soon to be adversaries in an interstellar war, and are torn apart by loyalties to t
Milda Page Runner
Mar 24, 2017 Milda Page Runner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Milda by: Caro M.

Sci-fi action adventure with predictable romance. It is deceptively light in the beginning, but makes a sharp turn midway darker and deeper into military and politics, raising uncomfortable questions about duty, honour and conscience, blurring lines between good and bad. Fast and engaging read that is surprising in a good way.

Lovely writing. It appears to be simple and straightforward, easily engaging you in fast moving plot and then surprises with beautiful insights and unexpected wisdom. Certa
Dec 30, 2011 Tatiana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: read Le Guin's "Four Ways to Forgiveness" instead
Maybe one is spoiled for sci-fi forever after reading Ursula K. Le Guin? Maybe Le Guin is as good as it gets? Because Lois McMaster Bujold is supposed to be one of the best sci-fi writers, Hugo-awarded, etc., and yet, I don't see anything of note in this sample of her work.

Shards of Honour is painfully reminiscent of Maria V. Snyder's later books (anything written after Poison Study really). In a way that this novel has a promising plot, but is suffocated by the superficiality and blandness of
Althea Ann
Dec 04, 2015 Althea Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 for the Aral and Cordelia story, and 5 stars for the last chapter, which is a totally separate story ('Aftermaths') rounds out to 4 stars.

'Shards of Honor' is the first novel in what has since become an extensive series ( of which I've read a great many. It's always odd to go back and read an early book featuring characters who were later fleshed out a great deal more. To be frank, this book does not fully live up to many of the later entries into the
Jun 23, 2014 Conor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mcmaster-bujold
This was a fun start to an interesting series. The main characters were likeable and interesting (especially the gradual reveal of Vorkosigan's past) and the plot was fast-paced, filled with a series of exciting adventures. The world-building was solid but nowhere near as ambitious, intriguing and memorable as the first book in the other sci-fi series I have experience with (Hyperion). The secondary characters were for the most part also not particularly remarkable with the exception of the mena ...more
Feb 05, 2010 new_user rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to new_user by: Sandra
I really enjoyed Shards of Honor. Though Lois McMaster Bujold's writing is a little more sparing with emotion than I generally enjoy, she's concise while eloquent and provides evidence for her claims. When she wants to convey that Lord Vorkosigan is honorable, she lets him demonstrate in deed or gesture, as I'm sure Vorkosigan would prefer. ;)

This first entry in the Vorkosigan Saga is unique among novels because both the plot and characters are strong. Shards begins as kind of a survivor romance
Caro M.
UPDATED 2017.03.31 with Worst Cover Gallery! Check down below and feel free to comment!
Having lately an interesting conversation with my GR friends on the nature of covers for Vorkosigan series I decided to update my older reviews with a little "gallery" of worst covers... ;)
How could I NOT read this book for so long? I enjoyed it thoroughly and the last chapter (The Aftermath) was just WOW. If you had any doubts (I didn't!) about author's skills while reading the m
Jun 05, 2008 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in line for a ticket to Dragon*con last year. Thus began the Autumn When Miles Vorkosigan Ate My Brain.
Dec 03, 2014 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lepa i zabavna SF prica i fin pocetak za odlicnu seriju sa puno mogucnost ali malo mi fali "velicine" u ovome, space opera feel ili nesto malo vise u stilu Honnor Harington. S druge strane iako dosta jednostavna, prica dotice dosta ozbiljne teme iu na momenat ume da bude mracna sto priznajem nisam ocekivao.

Glavni likovi su zabavni za citanje ali su nekako suvise ispravni u svojim postupcima. Nije da mi smeta ali malo odskace od ostatka likova (dobrih ili losih). Ali dovoljno su dopadljivi da cu
Shards of Honor, the first of the Vorkosigan Saga, could not be better, it’s a road trip through a deserted alien planet, it’s a space opera and a love story. It’s outstanding. With two strong protagonists and several intriguing supporting characters that complement each other, I could not have liked it more. There is war, credible ethical conflicts and disquiet.

Cordelia Naismith is the survey ship captain from the peaceful Beta Colony, leading a research team in an investigation of an unexplo
What a strange little book, but I quite enjoyed it. Will definitely be reading the rest of the series.

I wavered on my rating for quite a while. I liked this more than some books I’ve read that I rated four stars, but it had some pretty significant pacing and world-building issues that were really jarring, and I just couldn’t ignore them. I’m also hoping that future books will be even better, so I’m saving my higher ratings, I guess.

I’ve been meaning to read this series for YEARS now. Until Ann L
May 14, 2010 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.0 to 4.5 stars. This is the first book in the phenomenal Vorkosigan Saga and concerns the first meeting and ensuing relationship of Miles' parents, Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith. I thought this was one of the more important installments in so far as it explores the mutual respect and love between Aral and Cordelia and provides some background on the extraordinary people so critical to the life of Miles Vorkosigan. Highly recommended for all fans of the Miles books.
Science fiction, adventure, military-political intrigue, romance, character development & dry humour are mixed in perfect proportions in this debut novel of the “Vorkosigan Saga” space opera.

Cordelia Naismith & her team of scientists from Beta Colony are on a mission to map hitherto unchartered territories/planets when they are attacked by Barrayaran soldiers intent on keeping them away from the place (secretly to be used in an invasion of the planet Escobar as part of the Empire’s expa
Jun 25, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, 2fiction, 1audio
I read this when it first came out & kept up with the series, but have now started listening to them as audio books in chronological order. In the Vorkosigan universe, this is the second novel (Dreamweaver's Dilemma, a short story is first, for now.) & takes place after Falling Free with entirely different characters & setting. This has the effect of putting two dots into the mural of a very interesting universe that Bujold eventually fills in over more than a dozen books & stori ...more
Executive Summary: I liked it, and I plan to continue, but I had been hoping for a bit more.

Audiobook: The audio is pretty good, but nothing fantastic. Grover Gardner does a good job in terms of volume and inflection, but there isn't anything in his performance that makes this a must listen. It's a decent option though, if like me you have more time for audio books than reading.

Full Review
Apparently I bought this book twice. I had the ebook and totally forgot. Then I bought the audiobook on sa
David Sven
Sep 05, 2012 David Sven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I would probably call this Space Opera lite. I mean it is set in the far future where humans have colonised planets, have wormhole technology, and wage war with each other in space battleships. So there’s space battles, plenty of political intrigue, as well as encounters on strange planets with strange animals, like aerial jellyfish that will suck your face off as it feeds on your blood. But ultimately, all that is mere background and props for what is essentially a love story between two people ...more
I thought the careful and considered match between Aral and Cordelia was charming. It was deeper, emotionally, than a great deal of romances, sci-fi or otherwise. Much has been said about how strong a female lead Cordelia is, in both the stories and by the fans, and I have to admit they're correct. She's got a solid grip on reality, and despite the situation, she steadfastly judges her situation based on what is done and not what is said. That's always a great sign of sanity.
The adventure part h
Sarah Anne
3.5 stars. I found myself enjoying this more as it went along. It's a wonderful comfort read. I was originally intending to skip the direct sequel, Barrayar, but by the time I got to the end I just had to get the next and download it. This book made me feel comfortable and happy :)

On a side note - apparently I'm completely incapable of saying Vorkosigan. I keep adding extra letters. Vorkoskigan or Vorkosigian being the most common. Even with the audio I can't make it stick properly.
I listened to the Blackstone Audio app. The narration is decent, but not outstanding. A pleasant male voice, probably a baritone. Given the 3rd-person POV was mainly the heroine's, a female voice would have served better, IMO.

3.5 stars for this space opera / romance, written under the guise of sci-fi, even though there is very little scientific innovation beyond the odd species in the opening chapters -- big bloodsucking balloon-like creatures, and some novel carnivores and herbivores. Of cours

Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my FINISHING THE SERIES! list.

I loves me a good series! But I'm terrible for starting a new series before finishing my last - so this reading list is all about trying to close out those series I've got on the go.

Somehow, Shards of Honor didn’t hit the swee
Jul 09, 2011 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lois McMaster Bujold is an author I have been meaning to read for the longest time, she has won so many major sf awards it is clear that she must be some kind of major talent in the field. However it took me years and years to get around to picking up one off her books simply because the synopsis of her Vorkosigan series never seem all that interesting to me. Fortunately for me Lois has graciously decided to make most of her Vorkosigan books available for FREE in digital formats on her publisher ...more
Honestly, I'm fairly new to the world of Sci Fi, although I'm a huge Fantasy fan (why are these two so often lumped together? They're completely different genres!). Strangely, I've been more into Sci Fi on the screen than in books - Star Trek, Farscape, etc. So I decided to try out the Vorkosigan Saga because it seems like a pretty big one, and one that's not hardcore because I don't know if I'm ready for that.

I'm still not sure what I think. This was a decent start to a long series. It took so
Laura (Kyahgirl)
3.5/5; 4 stars; A-

I think the Vorkosigan Saga is one of my favourite sci-fi series. Even though most of it revolves around the next generation, it was fun to go back and re-visit Cordelia and Aral. I like Grover Gardner as the narrator of these stories. He does male and female voices well. I liked the insights this book gives into Aral Vorkosigan because in most of the series he is referred to obliquely and I think you can't really understand him without having read this book and the next one, B
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Conflict of Honors (Liaden Universe, #8)
  • Primary Inversion (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #1)
  • The Service of the Sword (Worlds of Honor, #4)
  • Valor's Choice (Confederation #1)
  • Once a Hero (The Serrano Legacy, #4)
  • Warchild (Warchild, #1)
Lois McMaster Bujold was born in 1949, the daughter of an engineering professor at Ohio State University, from whom she picked up her early interest in science fiction. She now lives in Minneapolis, and has two grown children.

Her fantasy from HarperCollins includes the award-winning Chalion series and the Sharing Knife tetralogy; her science fiction from Baen Books features the perennially bestse
More about Lois McMaster Bujold...

Other Books in the Series

Vorkosigan Saga (Publication) (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga, #2)
  • Ethan of Athos (Vorkosigan Saga, #3)
  • Falling Free (Vorkosigan Saga, #4)
  • Brothers in Arms (Vorkosigan Saga, #5)
  • The Vor Game (Vorkosigan Saga, #6)
  • Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga, #7)
  • Mirror Dance (Vorkosigan Saga, #8)
  • Cetaganda (Vorkosigan Saga, #9)
  • Memory (Vorkosigan Saga, #10)
  • Komarr (Vorkosigan Saga, #11)

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