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Miles Vorkosigan Series > SHARDS OF HONOR - the book in the overall series (*SPOILERS*)

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message 1: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
How do you think the book stacks up against the rest of the series? If you're re-reading, was it as good as you remembered? How does it foreshadow some of the rest of the series?

message 2: by C12vt (new)

C12vt | 14 comments Since I read the rest of the series first, it's really hard for me to compare. I think I would have enjoyed the book if I had read it first, but I'm sure I enjoyed it more because I was already in love with Barrayar and the Vorkosigans at the start.

I do think it's extraordinarily well written for a first novel.

Foreshadowing: plenty. There's the culture clash between Beta Colony and Barrayar, the tension between following orders and following your instincts, and a lot about honesty. Probably more if I thought about it longer.

One thing that struck me is that in some ways Bujold puts Aral and Cordelia through worse things in this book than she ever did to Miles. What Aral did for Ezar was more horrifying than anything Miles has had to do in the line of duty, or chosen to do out of it. Cordelia loses her career and her home.

That's another foreshadowing, I suppose: in the course of the series, Miles repeatedly tries to convince galactic women to come with him to Barrayar and marry him. Following his father's example, I guess (and I loved how Aral's proposal was as hasty as any of Miles'). But none of Miles' love interests want to give up what Cordelia gave up (Ekaterin doesn't have to give up anything).

message 3: by Random (last edited Jun 15, 2009 04:07PM) (new)

Random (rand0m1s) | 462 comments This was my least favorite book of the series. Not saying it's bad, the rest of the series is just so good. :)

I think in part it is because Aral just doesn't feel as fleshed out as the rest of her characters. I absolutely adore Cordelia and the events are a fascinating read.

I think Miles and his generation have an easier time because Aral, Cordelia and others went through horrors, and they did a lot of what they could to make sure the next generations would have things easier. Much the same could probably be said of Aral's father and his generation.

Honesty and integrity are major themes in all of the books. I suspect Cordelia was willing to abandon Beta Colony because she felt betrayed by them with their insistence that she had gone trough abuses she had not by the hands of someone who had done her no harm. She was running away every bit as much as she was going to Aral.

message 4: by Janny (last edited Jun 16, 2009 10:02AM) (new)

Janny (JannyWurts) | 984 comments The most interesting thing, to me, was realizing that I read this book out of order, in the first place. I plunged into this series down the line, and went back to get this volume. In that first read, years ago, (and in hindsight) I discovered I'd "filled in" alot of the depth, based on knowing what was to come.

This read, done long after the fact, and isolated from the other Vorkosigan books was quite different. (And I'd been up on the recent fantasy, by this author.)

This take, the story had a certain quaint charm - but I noticed that the depth and finesse of the later work was missing. Aral's character, in particular, devolved and lost fascination as the book progressed. The plot did not feel as tightly knit as I recalled. Not only has this author's standard risen, but the field in general is more sophisticated than it was when this story first appeared.

I love this author's work and hope that readers who are new to the Vorkosigan series will stick with it past this opener.

I agreed with the comment about the creatures, and the invention of the characters in an alien world. Many of the scene changes were deftly handled - and there were powerful points made, about both sides of a conflict, and which names wear the mud in the aftermath. The engagement with the characters was never less than immediate, and the interface with the reader sincere. I never feel talked at or talked down to, with Bujold, only immersed. Her strengths in this volume only mature and deepen with each book she writes.

Nothing she does is by rote, or formula.

message 5: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
Janny wrote: "I love this author's work and hope that readers who are new to the Vorkosigan series will stick with it past this opener."

That's the one thing I would like to emphasize. I actually came to the Vorkosigan series quite late, in 2001 or 2002, and so read the books according to internal chronology. I enjoyed Shards of Honor, but at the time, after my first read, I didn't see quite yet what the big deal was. It was okay, for me, but not what I expected after the very enthusiastic reviews I'd read about the entire series.
Now, having read the entire series, I understand the enthusiasm and would consider this one of my favorite SF series. If anyone was underwhelmed after reading Shards of Honor, I definitely would recommend sticking with it, because the next books get better and better.
And if, like me, you'll read the entire series and then go back to Shards of Honor a few years later, I think you'll enjoy it more and more. Many things are only hinted at in this book, including the general outlay of the universe, the Wormhole Nexus, the importance of Cetaganda, actually most of the different planetary cultures. Re-reading this book, I can see what Bujold was working with, but during my first reading not all of the details resonated with me - probably because her main focus was the relationship between Aral and Cordelia, and not creating a viable setting for a long series.
And - for me at least - the reason why I liked this book less than most of the rest of the series... It doesn't have Miles in it yet!

message 6: by Ken (new)

Ken (ogi8745) | 1206 comments I tried to read this originally when I heard about Vorkosigan series and absolutly hated it. I thought it was horribly written. Way to many coincidences and the whole meeting and Love story of Aral and Cordelia, to me was forced. I could not even finish book. To this day I still have not read Cordelia's Honor.
It almost turned me off of continuing the series, some acquaintances talked me into reading an actual Miles book, much better.
To this day I tell people NEVER to read Shards first. Go right to Miles and never look back

message 7: by C12vt (new)

C12vt | 14 comments One thing I found really interesting about this book, as part of the series, is how much Beta Colony we see. In so much of the rest of the series, Beta Colony is part of the background - something to compare Barrayar too. We see characters passing through on their way to somewhere else (somewhere more interesting?), or characters who have just gotten back from Beta Colony, or are planning to return to Beta Colony - we don't see a lot of action on Beta Colony.

If I hadn't read this book, I might have thought this was because Beta Colony was too "boring". When reading the other books, and for the first part of Shards as well, I was mentally seeing Beta Colony as basically "America in space" (or maybe "California in space"), a bit modernized but familiar. Too safe to be interesting. But the way we see Beta Colony after Cordelia's return is much different, and much more sinister.

Maybe that's the greatest thing this book brings to the series as a whole: the rest of the time, we see so much of Barrayar's problems, along with what makes Barrayar unique and beautiful, and Beta Colony plays the boring but enlightened foil. Here we see some of Beta Colony's problems - and perhaps that every place has a dark side.

I would really like to see more of Beta Colony. Maybe Mark and Kareen could have an adventure there...

message 8: by Ron (new)

Ron (ronbacardi) | 302 comments So far I've only read the first Miles omnibus and "Shards". I'm not crazy about military space opera in general. I do like the generally light tone of this book (even when the subject is gruesome or even horrific), but I have to object to what I think is a real clunker in the middle. (DETAILED SPOILER FOLLOWS)

When Cordelia's ship leaves the wormhole to run the Barrayaran embargo it is accelerating as fast as it can. When they turn on the projector, there is a huge drain on their power, and soon their vessel is (and I think this is a direct quote) "drifting dead" in space. They knew this would happen and try to escape in a disguised lifeboat. But why does their ship slow down? They are in empty space: they are no longer accelerating, but they shouldn't be losing velocity. It's not a car coasting to a stop at the side of the road when the gas runs out, it should keep going at whatever speed it had achieved in whatever direction it was going when the acceleration stopped; it shouldn't be "drifting dead". But since they stop or drift or whatever, the Barrayaran ships that went for the illusion can now come back to capture them, leading to Cordelia's second term as prisoner and so on. That's a pretty big fudge factor.

message 9: by Frank (new)

Frank Taranto (xtontox) | 38 comments I really liked the characters in this book. Aral fascinated me. He had so many difficult choices to make, many of them between two evils from his point of view. Cordelia also had difficult choices, especially after she got home and everyone was convinced she'd been brainwashed. To me, they both managed to keep their honor under extremely trying circumstances.

message 10: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
Jo Walton has made some really insightful posts on during her recent re-read of the Vorkosigan series. Here's the one about Shards of Honour:

I'm really looking forward to Barrayar, which I plan to start (re-)reading after I'm done with next month's SF Book of the Month, Dying Inside.

message 11: by Ron (new)

Ron (ronbacardi) | 302 comments Janny said that the "depth and finesse" she found in later books was missing here. It seems to me that this applies in particular to the world of Beta, which seems to me here to be more or less a cartoon, a sketch for later work. I haven't read all the later books, but I gather Miles goes to his mother's home world and that we learn much more about it, but in this book we have only the scene of Cordelia's return, the president (who nobody seems to have voted for) trying to co-opt her popularity, the rather unsubtle efforts of her "therapist", and the laughable ineptness of her guards. Cordelia is presented as the only Betan willing to challenge the "Barrayarans are all monsters" prejudice (and by the way, what humane government hands over a score of fetuses to a group they believe to be monsters?), so her betrayal of them seems only reasonable. This is not a nuanced picture of a society; it seems like shorthand. "Just assume these guys are the opposite of the Barrayarans, okay?" A little more effort might have yielded a lot more believeability.

message 12: by C12vt (new)

C12vt | 14 comments It was actually the Escobarans who handed over the fetuses. And yeah, that was a morally questionable move on their part...

message 13: by Ron (new)

Ron (ronbacardi) | 302 comments Good catch, C12vt, you are absolutely right. But weren't they effectively the same culture, I mean, wasn't Cordelia's world the "Beta Colony" of Escobar?

message 14: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn (seeford) | 126 comments I don't think so - Beta is entirely separate from Escobar, they were allies because Escobar holds a pivotal position as regards space traffic and the Betas didn't want to see the 'warlike and barbaric' Barrayans in charge of that position.

message 15: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn (seeford) | 126 comments I can't really comment on where it stands in relation to the rest of the series, because other than a short story or two, I'm coming new to this series.
So far I am enjoying it, although I definitely got the feel that this is a bit simplistic, so I'm hoping to find more depth to the books as I go along...

message 16: by Jim (new)

Jim (JimMacLachlan) Wait until you get caught up in some of Miles schemes, Carolyn. He definitely weaves a tangled web or manages to get snared in them. I think the books generally get more complicated as they go along & we have more of the universe & its history under our belt. While you could jump right in & read one of the later books, I'd have to go back & read an earlier one because of the references.

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Books mentioned in this topic

Shards of Honour (other topics)
Barrayar (other topics)
Dying Inside (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Jo Walton (other topics)