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When Cordelia Naismith and her survey crew are attacked by a renegade group from Barrayar, she is taken prisoner by Aral Vorkosigan, commander of the Barrayan ship that has been taken over by an ambitious and ruthless crew member. Aral and Cordelia survive countless mishaps while their mutual admiration and even stronger feelings emerge.

240 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1986

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About the author

Lois McMaster Bujold

167 books37.8k followers
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 bestselling Vorkosigan Saga. Her work has been translated into over twenty languages.

Questions regarding foreign rights, film/tv subrights, and other business matters should be directed to Spectrum Literary Agency, spectrumliteraryagency.com

A listing of her awards and nominations may be seen here:


A listing of her interviews is here:


An older fan-run site devoted to her work, The Bujold Nexus, is here:


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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,483 reviews
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
February 13, 2017
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 shelves, and was introduced to the very short, brilliant, terrifyingly competent and wildly adventurous Miles Vorkosigan. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, that book was not the best place to start with this series; it assumes a lot of background knowledge about the characters and events in their lives and really isn’t characteristic of the series, with its focus on romance and social satire over adventure. I was a little mystified but interested enough to check out more books in this series from the library.

And eventually I ended up here, with Shards of Honor, and Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan’s first meeting. She’s the Betan captain of a surveying team exploring an uninhabited (she thinks) planet; he’s the commander of a Barrayaran military outpost on that planet. (Beta is extremely socially progressive; Barrayar has a rigid, traditional and militaristic society.) Their groups clash in a deadly meeting, and Aral and Cordelia are abandoned among the dead and wounded. They need to cooperate to survive. As they trek to Aral’s camp, running into deadly alien animals along the way and surviving on scanty rations, they gain respect for each other, and love starts to develop. Cordelia is loyal to Beta, however, and more, she can’t imagine living and raising a family in the paternalistic society of Barrayar. That and the conflict between their worlds pull her and Aral apart.

I totally fell in love with these two characters and their adventures, a mix of political intrigue and battles, both in space and on land, and between individuals as well as societies. Cordelia’s and Aral’s unusual romance went straight to my heart, and their respective moral dilemmas were heartrending. Shards of Honor might not be the best book in the VORKOSIGAN SAGA, but it’s the one most beloved by me.
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
April 13, 2019
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 discuss speculative science with wormholes and alien warfare and gravity and i will be forced to skim until it gets back to interesting stuff, so i would typically give it a pass in favor of something that has at least one foot in a realistic atmosphere.

but a girl makes promises.

and then to my delight, this started off really strong. scientists exploring the flora and fauna of an alien planet.... hazards!! vampire jellyfish what fly!! essplosions in the distance!! good stuff!i loved the two main characters, and there was some equally strong supporting cast rounding it all off. so far, so good.

this is also a love story, but a love story without urgency. this is not "oh i must have you dooooo me in the vestibule" love, it is more sensible and measured a love story than that. and it is a slow build. so that was a second thing i liked about this book; strong characters who make sense as partners, not just falling in love because they happen to be near each other and so love naturally must follow.

but then, the whole middle was kind of a wash for me. intergalactic battles and alliances and betrayals and umm stars. i really wish i could get into those things. i feel like i would be a better-rounded person for it. but my eyes tend to glaze with outer space battle fatigue. sorry, ladies.

it did pick up again at the close - i enjoyed watching these characters, with their pasts and their flaws, make decisions that seemed grounded in realistic thought-processes, in a world where cause and effect were operating correctly. it never gets wacky.

but then there was a final-final chapter. is this setting up the next book?? is it something she just felt like writing even though it wasn't really connected to anything?? dunno. i am supposed to read the next book in the cycle, so ima get on that and maybe my questions will be answered.

so it is a three, but a three that leaves room to grow!! i could still come around!!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for carol..
1,576 reviews8,232 followers
January 31, 2021
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 their commands. Then woman volunteers to captain a near-suicide mission and is taken captive again, but this time by Marquis de Sade Junior. Will she escape? Will she reunite with her love? Will they overcome obscure political maneuvers and overzealous patriots to ultimately consummate their love?


Complete cheese, right? But it's American-style cheese that does so well melted and grilled into a comfort-food delight. Shards is not particularly subtle or unusual, but it manages to be an engaging read. While I can't say that I found the same sophistication and characterization that I read in The Curse of Chalion, it still had melty goodness. For instance, there were vampire balloons and giant crabs--hard to go wrong there. Dialogue was engaging, and I find her writing style is a nice balance between world-building and action, and pleasantly sophisticated in wording and ideas. Her characters have nice flashes of humor in the midst of struggle.

Plot wasn't particularly remarkable, but managed an unexpected twist or two. The first part of the book, the march across the alien world, was enjoyable, but I found the plot seriously disintegrating towards the end, especially when As an ship captain, Cordelia displays a surprising amount of both political knowledge and naivete, and she wasn't perhaps as fleshed out as Lord Vorkosigan, despite the story being told from her perspective. There's an interesting supporting role was given to a seriously mentally damaged soldier. I've been hearing that the Vorkosigan series is some of Bujold's best writing, and it turns out that this is a prequel centered on the meeting and connection of his parents. As such, it might be a little more oriented towards fans than new readers. For seriously good writing and world-building, I'd recommend her Curse/Paladin books.

Fun line: "Koudelka puzzled over this attempted readjustment of his point of view, then let it bounce harmlessly off his impermeable habits of thought."

Trigger warning: rapey stuff.

Cross posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/0...
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,678 reviews5,255 followers
March 28, 2013
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 as her fate becomes increasingly intertwined with that of the unjustly infamous Aral - also known as "The Butcher of Komarr". this excellent novel is the first in the massive Vorkosigan Saga, which currently numbers over 25 novels and short stories. it is also Bujold's first full-length work - an impressive achievement.

the novel is a chamber piece with a galactic background. space opera boiled down to two major characters and several intriguing supporting characters, with acts of policy and war that become palpable moral and ethical conflicts for those characters. it is space opera made intimate and personal; space opera where the psychology of its characters is writ as large and made as important as the various exciting twists and turns of the narrative. it is also a romance - one that is by turns surprising and moving and life-affirming. there are no ridiculously giddy or angsty moments that made me roll my eyes. Cordelia and Aral are decidedly adults, with a whole lifetime of pain and experience behind them. watching them matter-of-factly fall in love was key to my enjoyment.

it is a novel with some teeth as well. its issues are timely and timeless... is a terrible sacrifice worth all of those lives to stop the deaths of even more lives? should nationalism be a thing that we live and die for, a thing that defines our lives' trajectories? and what is "honor" anyway - a personal thing? a public thing? the thing that we cling to that gives our lives some kind of meaning, some sense of purpose? all are interesting questions to contemplate.

the prose is smart, clean, unfussy. our heroes veer towards the nonchalant rather than towards the melodramatic - they are life-sized, not larger-than-life - and so the prose is a perfect match for the characterization. the whole novel is excellent and thoroughly entertaining, but my favorite part may be the opening third - which is basically a two-person trek across an unknown planet. the reader gets to enjoy interesting bits of xenobiology (not delivered via massive world-building infodumps) while Cordelia and Aral's intriguing and entirely sympathetic personalities slowly unfold, to the reader and to each other. it was lovely. "lovely" may be an odd word to use for a novel that encompasses war, assassination, depraved villains, forced drug use, attempted rape, the children of rape, a mental breakdown, and the abandonment of one's home... but Shards of Honor is indeed a lovely thing - a quietly moving experience.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,109 followers
November 18, 2017
Re-read 11/18/17:
Actually, it's my third read. It was only a few years ago when I read it last and since then I've plowed through all the other novels in a row. It's so good that I have to do it all over again.

That being said, I think this novel is growing more and more on me. I loved it before and I love it even more now. Yes, yes, it's a romance on the battlefield and we have tons of action on a wild planet and in space with outright space battles, but it's the interactions between all these fantastic characters that makes this shine. Cordelia. Aral. Bathari.

Bujold doesn't hold back on anything. Do you want a loss of honor and the hope of regaining it? A political mess? How about respect at the deepest levels? How about disillusionment with our homes and putting all our cards down on a gamble for the rest of your life and happiness?

Truly, there's a lot more depth to this book than most people might credit it. And here's the best part: if you're already invested in the series and know all the locations and references dropped, it still makes a perfectly coherent whole in the world building. :) Everything was worked out to perfection. :) Even the characters we meet fleetingly here get much bigger roles later, and revisiting them, in the beginning, is so gratifying.

Some books only get better with time. This is one of them.


Original review:

I thought the careful and considered match between Aral and Cordelia was charming. It was deeper, emotionally, than a lot 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 had me going, but the disillusionment about her home and the open-eyed acceptance of the madhouse of Aral's home said more about Beta Colony than it said about Barrayar. All in all, delicious more for its accumulated weight of surrounding stories than for it, in itself, but it was definitely a charming space-operatic love story.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,082 followers
May 13, 2019
¡¡Lo bien que me lo he pasado con este libro y lo que me ha sorprendido!!
Comienza siendo un libro de aventurillas galácticas y termina siendo algo mucho más profundo y complejo, con tramas políticas, guerras y trastornos postraumáticos de por medio.
Me he enamorado de Cordelia y Aral, de los dos por separado y especialmente de ellos juntos, de su dinámica, su ironía, su carisma...
La trama me ha atrapado, de la mitad hacia el final no podía parar, y me ha sorprendido una y otra vez. Especialmente quiero destacar el capítulo en el que Cordelia vuelve a casa y el epílogo, ambos me dejaron el corazón un poco roto.
A pesar de la fama que tiene dentro de la literatura de ciencia ficción no conocía a la autora ni la saga pero ya estoy ANSIOSA por continuar.
En conclusión, una historia de la que esperaba solo entretenimiento pero me ha dado mucho más, no es que sea una obra maestra pero es plenamente disfrutable, inteligente y original en muchas cosas (aunque en otras no tanto).
Profile Image for Joel.
556 reviews1,667 followers
March 19, 2011
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 and mature romance. There are no sex scenes here, just a character study of two people, each slowly being drawn into the other's orbit (obligatory space metaphor!) despite social (planetary) differences. Despite galactic war! Separated by wormholes, their love bound them together!

In the courtship of Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan, this book reminds me of Regency Romances (in her review, Elizabeth calls then them the space-faring equivalent of Anne Elliot and Wentworth, which sounds about right). These are adults who have lived through the disappointment of past relationships and the frenzies of first love. They've known pain and heartbreak, and they don't fall into each other's arms (and beds) immediately, nor do they obsess over or glorify one another (I waited the whole book and I never found out if Aral had a rippling chest or not. Probably he doesn't sparkle though). Even in her first novel (of many, many to come, including about a dozen in this series), Lois McMaster Bujold is an assured and witty writer, content to take her time with character, something that a lot of sci-fi writers see little use for.

Which brings me to the part of the book that didn't work quite as well for me -- the sci-fi parts. A lot happens in this slim tome, too much perhaps -- grand political intrigues, complex plots and betrayals, a war than spans worlds -- and we see just snatches of the action and intrigue, because the book isn't really about any of that. Or if it is, only tangentially, in the ways these grand events impact Cordelia and Aral (I feel like they need one of those 'shipper mash-up names... Cordaral?). I wanted the plots and the coups to be a little more fleshed out; I wanted more of the backstory that is only hinted at, particularly some eyebrow-raising hints about Aral's past relationship with a chief villain.

So I am giving this one three stars, even though I enjoyed it immensely. For one thing, its direct sequel, Barrayar (which has actually been bound together with Shards in my edition) is by all accounts a much stronger book (it won the Hugo award, one of several major awards Bujold has won for this series), and I wanted to leave myself some breathing room. My space heart is engaged! I want to see where these characters are going. Also I already picked up about five more of the books at a thrift shop.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,597 followers
February 6, 2017
*** 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 like to be when I grow up! She is attractive, but much more than that, she is brave, vivacious, quick to act, quick to feel, and very capable to handle almost any situation. The two of them are on opposite sides of a war and expect only the worst from each other, but a long week having to depend only on one another for survival, opens their eyes to their better features and brings them close together. . . Until the real world shows them once again how impossible it is for them to ever have a chance to see if the mutual attraction they had developed could grow into something more... Very sad for both of them...

Being the strong and independent individuals they are, Vorkosigan and Cordelia try to keep going, but faith has some very challenging and difficult tests to put them through before leading them back to each other. Faith could be such a bitch at times!!!

I loved this book, I love the world building, and I really hope that the series continues in this manner, because if it does, Evgeny and I are in for a very interesting ride. Once again my favorite part of the story is the thought out plot, the imaginative structure of the different cultures and their differences, and the balance between action and the more political sections of the story. I know one thing for sure, this is a very welcome series in my life:-)

I wish you all Happy Reading and many more wonderful books to come!!!
Profile Image for Melindam.
666 reviews294 followers
April 26, 2023
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 expansion policy). But things go terribly wrong not just for Cordelia, but for the leader of the soldiers, Count Aral Vorkosigan, as someone from his own team tries to murder him in the chaos. They get stranded on the planet & need each other to survive and to reach the Barrayaran base camp.

The 2 main characters are very likeable almost upon first introduction. Neither of them are young or insanely beautiful, they have past grievances, but you can sympathize with them easily. Their gradually developing relationship is totally plausible: from enmity to grudging respect, to trust and then to yearning & love. Their background stories as well as of their respective planets are very nicely built up by LMB. Step by step we learn about their personal history as well as the political influences that shaped them.

Political implications are also interesting: Beta Colony seems to be a “democracy”, while Barrayar is a kind of military empire with a war campaign of expansion, where militants (traditionalists) & bureaucrats (new order) clash for power with an emperor soon to die.

Cordelia seems to fall into the middle of both the war campaign and the political one fought by the rival factions. Her stance throughout the book is admirable: she always tries to preserve her humanity, flexibility, patience & sense of humour. It is also lovely to see the effect she has over the prickly, rigid Aral: how he softens and relaxes and yet keeps his sense of honour. We have a lovely love story without grand vows and forced misunderstandings, but rather with small gestures and touching moments.

And thanks once again for the book recommendation to Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ & Evgeny!
Profile Image for Trish.
2,020 reviews3,436 followers
November 18, 2017
I'm definitely sold on this series by now. These books might be old (this particular volume was published in 1986) but they hold up very nicely and address ageless topics, some even in a better way than modern books do.

This second volume (my group and I read them in chronological order) is about Cordelia Naismith, a Betan captain of a survey team, and Aral Vorkosigan, a commander of a Barrayaran military outpost.
They meet on an almost unexplored planet one day and need to join forces in order to survive. To their mutual surprise (and that of everyone else), they learn to respect one another. The reason simply is that both of them are honourable people, serving their respective society.
Cordelia's people are a bit more advanced when it comes to the role of women and equality (less "stiff" one might say) but also kind of unorganized and childish in many instances, while the Barrayaran society is patriarchal and militaristic. However, none of those societies are without fault - just the author's way of being realistic. There are really bad examples of human beings in both of them.

The book is full of battles (not just mindless action but intelligent war tactics) and frequent political intrigue that give it a very nice pace while we also get a wonderful non-cheesy romance that progresses nicely throughout the story. Cordelia is very much her own women, capable and strong, but that doesn't mean she can't fall in love with Aral. And just because Aral is who he is doesn't mean that he is a caveman who would hold Cordelia back from being who she is.

The characters are vivid and realistic (the secondary ones such as Bothari as much as the two MCs), just like the warring cultures presented. Nobody and nothing is perfect, there is a semi-unexpected turn in the last bit of the book, setting the scene for the rest of the series. There are some deeper levels to the story as well, such as change being necessary and inevitable, everyone having to adapt in order to stay true to oneself and do the right thing, or sacrifice and costs (Cordelia put that very nicely). The overall writing pulls the reader in from start to finish and the narrators did a wonderful job in bringing the story to life (again, despite the age - which is a funny remark considering how much I hated a certain psychologist for stating that the romance between Cordelia and Aral was obviously fake because Cordelia was already 34 and Aral even older *lol*).

P.S.: This also had the short story Aftermath at the end of the actual novel and it was an interesting insight into what the war had done to both societies and the pychology of people on both sides.
Profile Image for Libros Prestados.
426 reviews811 followers
February 8, 2020
Vaya por delante que a mí me encantan las space opera, y sobre todo las space opera clásicas. "Babylon 5" es mi serie de ciencia ficción favorita, "Legend of the Galactic Heroes" mi anime favorito y me encanta la saga de "Star Wars" (sí, precuelas incluídas). Y "Fragmentos de honor" es una space opera clásica, con la ventaja de que (a diferencia de otras obras escritas por hombres) como lectora y mujer no me siento insultada.

Y no es porque esta historia se ahorre el hecho de las violaciones de guerra a mujeres u otras escenas escabrosas, sino porque si vas a hablar de ello, habla también de las consecuencias. Y porque la historia está contada desde el punto de vista de una mujer competente (que para la época en la que se escribió era mucho menos habitual de lo que parece): Cordelia Naismith.

¿Tiene "instalove"? Sí. Pero un montón de space operas lo tienen. O eso o historias románticas que se desarrollan muy poco porque lo importante es otra cosa. Siempre. En este caso, los planes y complots políticos, sobre todo de Barrayar. Y si hay una especie de space opera que me chifla, es la que tiene un alto componente político (de nuevo, me encantan "Babylon 5" y "Legend of the Galactic Heroes"). Así que lo del "instalove" me da bastante igual, habida cuenta de que las tramas románticas me dan bastante igual normalmente. En este caso, Cordelia y Aral Vorkosigan me han caído bien y con eso me basta. Esta historia está llena de personajes extraordinariamente ingeniosos todo el tiempo. Y diré esto: es más difícil de lo que parece encontrarse personajes femeninos que lo sean. Los Han Solo de la ficción son usualmente masculinos. Y eso es algo que agradecí de "Fragmentos de honor".

En definitiva, una space opera que me gustó porque es del tipo que me gustan. ¿Inventa la rueda? No. Pero está escrita con personajes femeninos que no me provocan vergüenza ajena y esto durante mucho tiempo fue más difícil de encontrar de lo que podría parecer.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,512 reviews857 followers
August 16, 2017
A little dated but I really enjoyed it. I felt like I was entering a bit of a reading slump and I started about 5 books yesterday evening and couldn't get into any of them. And then I lucked on this, lurking on my kindle, read the first chapter and that was all it took! It's rare for me to finish a book in one sitting because I tend to have a few books on the go at any one time. But this was one such book.
I'm not an enormous sci- fi fan unless it's character driven, so this was perfect. There were many types of honour in this book and it struck me as quite a thoughtful look at the dynamic of people and events.
November 27, 2018
Actual rating: 2.75 stars. And a half.

💌 This non-review dedicated to my Dearest Wife Maria, who kinda sorta loves this series, and will most assuredly ask for divorce after she reads what follows.

Be glad and rejoice, my Comely Decapods, because I have neither the time nor the energy to write a Crappy Yet Never-Ending Non-Review (CYNENR™) for this book! Ergo, dramatically the crap I shall cut! Yay for you and stuff!

Damn, do you really have to be so enthusiastic about this? You could at least pretend you’re hopelessly crushed or something. What a bunch of ruthlessly heartless arthropods. I am deeply hurt. I think.

So. Here’s why this book didn’t exactly knock my pincers off:

It is naught but romance in disguise. Ew and stuff. Silly naïve little me most sillily and naively expected this story to be a Super Extra Cool Space Opera Type Thingie (SECSOTT™) fraught with yummy battles, deliciously treacherous schemes and vile double-crossers aplenty, so when I got to 30% and the male MC asked his female counterpart to marry him (they’d known each other for a least a whole day, you see), I went all…

It is somewhat boring as fish. A little. The book is mostly blah blah blah, and there is little violent, bloody action to be had. I don’t mind books with lots of dialogues but the two MCs are such headache-inducing chatterboxes they should come equipped with extra strength aspirin. Their endless conversations as they “trek across dangerous terrain” (dangerous according to the blurb, that is. It seems clear that whoever wrote it has never set foot in my Mariana Trench Dominion, and therefore has no bloody shrimping idea what “dangerous” really means) nearly killed my two little grey cells dead. Which would have been a shame because no grey cells = no crappy non-review = depressed Little Barnacles everywhere. Obviously.

It was written in the late 1980s. And it shows. I have nothing against ancient old school stuff (being quite ancient old school myself) but there’s a difference between old school and outdated, methinks *pretends she can’t hear Maria scream her sexy little lungs out in the background* Okay, so the book is not BAD, but it’s not what you would call supremely exciting and original, either. Also, it’s kind of decaf. And sort of diet. And a little gluten-free, too. Let’s just say it’s not as fresh and thrilling as more recent SF series like Linesman and stuff.

It tackles the subject of rape much too casually for my taste, as if it was no big deal. I mean, given the lack of gravity with which the author deals with the issue, she might as well have been talking about growing anemic seaweed as a hobby or something. Also, there’s the slightly problematic issue of a baby being entrusted into the tender loving care of a psychotic ex-rapist.

My thoughts exactly, dear little Gustav.

Okay, if I’m to be completely and most disgustingly honest here, there is one thing I did like about this book: its main protagonists are nearly as ancient old and wise as I am. And that, my Decapodic Arthropods, is most refreshing indeed. To bloody fishing hell with all those SF and Fantasy MCs who are so revoltingly young they are barely out their stinking diapers, I say!

➽ And the moral of this Please Please Please Maria Don’t File for Divorce Just Yet I Promise I’ll Be Good From Now On and Will Read All the Books Right I’ll Even Give You A 24-Hour Pass to the High Security Harem If That’s What It Takes to Preserve Our Nefariously Blissful Union Crappy Non Review (PPPMDFfDJYIPIBGFNOaWRAtBRIEGYA24HPttHSHIFWITtPONBUCNR™) is: even though it seems I didn’t like this book very much (I think), I intend to continue with this series anyway. Because I’m bold and brave and audacious and adventurous and also a little masochistic like that.

P.S. Yes, I was joking when I said I was going to cut the crap dramatically. A good thing you know just how full of fish I am, and know better than to trust me when I say stuff like that, right? Right .

· Book 4: Falling Free ★★

Pre-review nonsense

This book in a nutshell:

➽ Full Oh No Maria Will Never Forgive Me For Not Lurving This One She's Probably Filing For Divorce As We Speak Crappy Non Review (ONMWNFMFNLTOSPFFDAWSCNR™) to come.

P.S. Yes, I know this one has a 4.12 average star rating. So what? Is it my fault if you People of Despicable Book Taste (PoDBT™) always read stuff wrong?
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.7k followers
January 1, 2012
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 characters and world-building.

Two mature adults belonging to vastly different civilizations (one - militaristic and rigid, and another - humane and liberal) romance each other and battle through various political conspiracies. What can go wrong?

I'll tell you what. First, the fact that this novel is, essentially, a sci-fi romance. The romance is dressed with a lot of pseudo-sci-fi details, but, still, a marriage is proposed within 5 days of the meeting and worlds are turned upside down for love here. Whatever.

Second, it is possible that I am not very familiar with space-opera subgenre of sci-fi, but if Shards of Honour is a fair representation of it, I am never picking up anything like this again. Basically, you have people jumping from one spaceship onto another overtaking power and talking at length about political intrigue. Yawn.

And third, going back to Maria V. Snyder, there are certain tropes used in Shards of Honour that I remember seeing in Snyder's work on annoyingly multiple occasions, such as the heroine of motherly, do-no-wrong type and her being kidnapped over and over, the obligatory rapey, torturing villain, etc.

So yeah, I wasn't impressed with this book. There is a similar story called Forgiveness Days in Ursula K. Le Guin's collection Four Ways to Forgiveness. Read that instead.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,233 reviews1,047 followers
December 22, 2015
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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vorkosi...) 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 saga - but then, how could it, really? The world, and the people in it, have grown in the three decades since this book was written.

None of this is to say this isn't a good book. It is.
Non-combatant Betan scientist Captain Cordelia Naismith and her exploration team are ambushed and attacked by a group of militaristic Barrayaran soldiers. Next thing she knows, her spaceship must flee, leaving her behind. Also marooned on the planet is the Barrayaran commander Aral Vorkosigan, betrayed by his own men. Cooperation may be the only way that either of them can stay alive - and the only way that Cordelia can keep a severely injured member of her crew alive, as well. Forced into proximity, the two of them may learn that although they come from wildly disparate cultures, as individuals they may have more in common than they would have guessed.

That's just the beginning of the story, and it progresses with plenty of action, but also with a very realistic, human focus on emotions, values, and decision-making.

At the end of the book, 'Aftermaths,' a separate short story which was actually written (and published) before the rest of the book, goes even farther with that theme. It gives us a look at an aspect of space battles that action-packed stories of glory usually skip - the civil servants employed to collect the corpses floating in space, working an unpleasant but necessary job. It's a powerful and heartwrenching tale.
Profile Image for Milda Page Runner.
300 reviews234 followers
March 24, 2017

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. Certainly curious to check out other Bujold books as well as the rest of this series.

Recommended for sci-fi and space opera fans.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,778 reviews1,776 followers
September 8, 2023
Re-Read Review, August 2023: This is still three and a half stars, but I'm bumping it up this go-round. I'm very glad I re-read this, because I knew I had forgotten most of what happened here, except for the general arc of Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan, but I didn't realize HOW much I'd forgotten. It was basically like reading it for the first time. I also did the audio, which was a little strange and clearly an older audio recording, but still enjoyable. I'll probably do the rest of the books by audio as well (unsure of order, probably chronological not publication order), so Barrayar is up next.

This book tells the story of how two people from very different cultures (in space!) find each other and fall in love, to eventually birth the main character of the series, Miles. This nicely sets up how the culture of Barrayar is viewed by other people in the galaxy, and specifically how Cordelia's upbringing and cultural ideals clash with Aral's, through the lens of a survival story slash spy thriller slash space battle type story. It's a lot for one little book, a problem I had the first time and still had this time.

I did also still find myself having to seek outside sources for clarification on plot points or things that seem to have been implied by the author a little too subtly. Not sure if this is just LMB's style in general, or if it's more influenced by the sff conventions of the time. This is certainly a much shorter book than would probably be published today.

Excited to finally see what the rest of this series has to offer!

Original Review, November 2015: 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 Leckie came along and I gobbled up her delicious series (that just concluded last month), I hadn’t actually ever read any space opera written by a woman. One of my very favorite genres! This was unforgivable. And both of them bring such a wonderful perspective to it, I’m kicking myself for not reading this sooner. The Vorkosigan saga is almost as old as I am. I could have been reading it all along! Reading about space politics, galactic warfare, espionage, cloning, medical ethics, brainwashing, all that fun sci-fi shit, all filtered through a feminine viewpoint. It’s just so wonderful and refreshing. More ladies need to be writing in this genre if this kind of awesome crap* is what comes of it.

*If you haven’t read Ancillary Justice and its two sequels yet, and you are a fan of the Vorkosigan books, go rectify that immediately.

So apparently the main character of this series is another character called Miles, and this book is the story of how his parents met. It’s a love story, yes, but it’s also a story about keeping honor during wartime. The lovers from opposite sides is one of my very favorite tropes, and it’s done very well here, particularly for the way it illuminates the two cultures as Aral Vorkosigan (the supposed Butcher of Komarr) and Captain Cordelia Naismith (a scientist from a more progressive, less brutal culture) come to actually know one another.

I think a lot of my basic issues with the book could probably be boiled down to two things: this was the author’s first published novel, and it was published in the 1980s. Nowadays, a book with this plot would be probably twice as long, and have a more streamlined structure. This book just ZOOMS through plot. It’s only 300 pages long, and it covers enough time and events to fill probably an entire series. The world-building is extremely economical. So much of the world they live in was not in the book itself, and a lot of it was confusing, because Bujold just assumes you’ll catch up or something. It makes more sense now because I Wikipedia’d a bunch of stuff (whoops, spoilers), but it’s clear that the real stars are her characters, and the world came second, at least here.

The structure is also a bit wonky. The book is split roughly in two, the first half being Cordelia and Vorkosigan meeting on a neutral planet, and having to survive. He takes her prisoner, and she encounters Barrayaran culture for the first time, after she is taken aboard his ship. Then a war starts, and Bujold just skips that entirely. The second half takes place as the war comes to a close, and their relationship comes to fruition. It was jarring, and not telegraphed very well. It worked, but it felt very weird.

Anyway, I’m definitely excited to read the rest of the books in this series. I’ll finally be clued in to what a ton of other people have already known for almost thirty years! Ehhh, it’s never too late. Sometimes sci-fi doesn’t age well, but this book definitely has.

[3.5 stars]
Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
554 reviews1,095 followers
November 17, 2021
Even though you might not have read a single book in the Vorkosigan saga, chances are you are well aware of its existence. If you’re a serious Space Opera fan, that is.

The “Vorkosiverse” is a mainstay in genre fiction, and has even won a Best Series Hugo award (as well as a number of Hugo’s for individual entries). It also features on just about everybody’s “must read” Space Opera list. If political intrigue is your thing, this is the place to go.

Shards Of Honour is the first full length publication in the saga, and therefore carries some novelty weight. It introduces the characters of Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith and details their first meeting and subsequent romance. Now, if you have been reading some of the books already, you’ll know that the series really revolves around Miles Vorkosigan-Naismith (their son), who is a much more interesting character than either of his parents. I had actually read The Warrior’s Apprentice before this novel, and I’m glad I did, because I’m not sure whether Shards Of Honour would have hooked me in and compelled me to read the series on its own merit. To be very clear: Shards Of Honour is not a bad book, but it rather pales in comparison to the later books in the series.

Not much more to be said on the topic. It’s a popular series, and rightly so. So, read this book, it’s fairly entertaining (if a bit schmaltzy on occasion; it is after all a bit of a love story), but bear in mind it only gets better from here.

Random information: It’s interesting to note that this literary universe, while clearly qualifying as Space Opera, does not contain sentient Aliens (as far as I know), but rather focuses on the conflict between two human societies (from different planets).
Profile Image for Conor.
148 reviews315 followers
December 20, 2015
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 menacing and tormented Sergeant Bothari. I'm definitely interested to see where this series goes from here, especially in how the weird publication vs. reading vs. chronological order debate will effect the series' development.

Full review to come...
Profile Image for Justine.
1,158 reviews312 followers
July 19, 2018
I got a great deal of enjoyment from this. The first thing I liked were the older main characters, Aral and Cordelia, whose slow growing romance was decidedly mature and adult. Both come to each other fully formed and independently complete, rather than requiring the other person to catalyze their growth into the person they will become. In fact, all the characters were excellent. The side characters nicely developed and feeling very much a necessary part of the story.

Second, the writing itself, which reads with a certain level of simple gracefulness. I continue to like the method of unfolding worldbuilding that Bujold employs, giving out parts of the whole through the characters and their actions.

Third, the interweaving of so many moral questions within the story. The humanizing of soldiers and victims of war in particular was well done and heartfelt, and provided a grounding of reality mirroring issues that are relevant today.

Most of all, I loved the way this worked as a complete package which felt so satisfying as a whole. I alternated listening to this with reading, and while I'm still not in love with the narrator, he is growing on me. On to the next book, Barrayar.
Profile Image for Caro the Helmet Lady.
773 reviews349 followers
April 2, 2017
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 main part, Aftermath leaves you with none. Aftermath leaves you crushed.

So what do we get here? A space opera, which I feel is somewhat more fantasy than sci-fi, which isn't bad at all. I had same feeling while reading Dune, by the way. So good old space opera and a love story that isn't into sappiness and YA dramatism of "omg did he look at me? omg he just so did! omg omg!" - it's mature, it's a bit funny and believable. A complicated political scene and a foretaste of future intrigues and events.

Plus we get a smart and strong heroine, Cordelia Naismith, who is also sensitive and sensible. Where have you been all my life, Cordelia? You could be a perfect role model for teen me!... Sigh. Well, at least I had Ellen Ripley. Another interesting character is Aral Vorkosigan, but he is a tad more stereotypical for my tastes, but still it didn't hurt to have him in the book. I hope both of them will be developed more in series. Which I'm going to read, because I've just discovered my series of the year, I'm afraid.

Of course, some things felt a bit retro sci-fi, but in a good nostalgic way. Also, as always in stories about humankind spread among stars, I get annoyed when language that protagonists use to communicate with each other is not mentioned. Wouldn't it be fun to find out about Barrayar-ish accent or that they had to use some sort of Esperanto to talk to each other? Or at least they got surprised that they can understand each other? Or at least let them use some slang words? Something like that?...

And the villain?... That's really it?...#not_my_villain

Heyyyy, come on, it's me bitching just a bit so you won't get a feeling that I gave it 5 shining stars too easily. ;)
Worst Cover Gallery
רסיסים של כבוד‏ by Lois McMaster Bujold Fragmentos de honor by Lois McMaster Bujold Fragmentos de honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
Profile Image for Natalie.
446 reviews10 followers
June 6, 2008
I read this in line for a ticket to Dragon*con last year. Thus began the Autumn When Miles Vorkosigan Ate My Brain.
Profile Image for new_user.
238 reviews191 followers
April 3, 2010
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. Members of enemy states, Aral and Cordelia encounter each other after both have been stranded on expedition. Initially, neither trusts the other, but they need each other to make it back to civilization.

Despite the occasional romance-genre inner dialogue from Cordelia that squirms, "Oh, dear me, why do I feel this way, oh, no, I mustn't," I appreciated Bujold's treatment of the hero and heroine's disparate cultures, their initial prejudices and their growing knowledge. Granted, it was easier done than in reality -unfortunately- but there was no sermonizing and both characters were very logical, practical, intelligent sorts, so it wasn't hard to digest.

I loved the characters. They're both admirable, understated people who were more about actions, where necessary, than big declarations. They were realistic. They never plan on heroism. They know that the reality of violence is neither so grand nor so certain, but they do what they must, even when it's difficult. The military is not glorified here, and in fact, I liked the ultimately realist view of it. I also enjoyed the treatment of politics, particularly when the romancing was done and the narrative moved onto the nitty gritty, the unsentimental reality of rule, the betrayal and pain. I think I'm a little in love with Aral, LOL. (Lest I make this seem too grim, the authentic gestures that Aral and Cordelia use to communicate or think of their love for each other were moving.) This is when the action starts.

Regarding the tech and science, I found them to be very unobtrusive. The reader isn't bombarded with acronyms, new technology and so on. Everything is very familiar, and everything that isn't is intuitive. Readers new to the genre can easily read this, and may I say for the record she's much better at space opera than heroic fantasy.

I recommend this to anyone interested in reading about epic politics, including the military, and a moving relationship that transcends cultures and age (the hero's 44 years old, and damn impressive, LOL) with complex characters and situations.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,564 reviews2,937 followers
January 16, 2018
This is my first time reading Bujold's SF but I have tried her fantasy before and very much enjoyed it. I think the two genres certainly share her style, and I am excited to read more in the series as time goes on becuase it looks like this is kind of the intro to what will be a much larger series in the end.

This follows Captain Naismith and her crew who are visiting another planet to try and find out about the plants, fauna, flora and animals which live there. They are a peaceful research science crew, and yet they are quickly attacked and largely killed by the renegade Barryar group who are also near the planet. They are forced to flee leaving Naismith behind and she is captured by a lone Barryar soldier called Vorkosigan. It seems he may have been undermined by his inferiors and that a coup has taken place, so Naismith and a wounded soldier from her survey team go with Vorkosigan to find help and find out more.

What I liked about this was that it was a really fast and easy read, and I found I got into it straight away. There's some great moments of dialogue between Naismith and Vorkosigan which make you like the two of them, and there's also a fair but of action as they travel across the hostile lands and try to find help.

This definitely has a strong element of romance later in the book and yet I felt that this made sense in a way and I did enjoy seeing how things played out. At one point I thought we had reached the end of the adventure, but it turned out there was more to follow and the set up for the next book was definitely exciting so i want to buy that soon.

I would give this a good 4*s and I will hope to continue the series soon!
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,253 reviews182 followers
September 12, 2021
4.25* re-read

“Change is possible."
“Change is inevitable.”

Second book of the Vorkosigan Saga (chronological). This instalment was quite different to Falling Free, widening the focus, following two characters, each representing waring societies, one a military patriarchal one, the other with a more ‘modern’ outlook of equality. Bujold offers us a Space Opera full of fight scenes, political intrigue, and adventure. She does also add an element of romance.

Cordelia Naismith, Betan captain of a surveying team, and Aral Vorkosigan, commander of a Barrayaran military outpost, meet in less than auspicious circumstances, deciding to join forces in order to survive. This unlikely partnership brings them closer, each learning to respect the other and change their perceptions and indeed prejudices. Both have a high sense of responsibility and of what is ‘honour’. I particularly liked how the portrayal of the societies showed that neither is totally ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but mixtures of the two.

I love the fact that this was written in 1986, in a world that was more Barrayan than Betan. My only regret is that I didn't discover this, and the author, then as I would have loved it even more.
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books752 followers
October 26, 2017
Okay, so. This did not go as anticipated. I loved it for the first ~30%. And then it went off the rails in a horrific explosion that became something worse than explosion and ended in horror. This book is like if the Cell and I Am Sam had a baby that swore to God it was Romancing the Stone.

I should not have read this book. It is the exact sort of thing that triggers me, and while that's not this book's fault, I am going to give you my honest impressions. Because of the nature of the issues I had with it, I am doing two content warnings in various specificity.



I feel like I read a different book than everyone else. This is a romance the way the Joker and Harley Quinn have a romance. It's sick. It's abuse, illogical, horrific and completely out of keeping with the characters we meet.

It gets two stars because I did spend about a third of the book cheering for the characters, and the world was cool. As to the rest, I thought the plot at times made sudden leaps that were hard to follow, and a lot of the later dialogue and action seems to have been completely out of keeping. "Honorable" Cordelia tortures a woman to escape, for example. It's just...not at all what I was expecting. And the ending is freaking strange.

Basically, it's all the things that keep women up at night, either for themselves or out of sick fear for the bad decisions their friends are making sold as a love story. I guess it's well written, and the unintended horror hits home more because I did feel like Cordelia was my friend. Please. If you think you love someone like Cordelia loves Vorkosigan, please talk to someone. This is not okay.

Also what the hell's with it being Vorkosigan saga? This book is all about Cordelia, she's the interesting one. One of these things was done from a wrong angle, or there was some sort of mythos building that I've not yet figured out, and probably never will. Good bye, lesbian necrophiliacs and lovers who torture each other.
Profile Image for Oleksandr Zholud.
1,121 reviews112 followers
January 15, 2020
This is the first (by publication order; second by internal chronology) volume of Vorkosigan saga. I previously read World of the Five Gods Series by the same author and was impressed. However, I quite often witness that great fantasy authors are mediocre SF writers or vice versa. Not in this case!

The book was nominated for Locus and further volumes get several Hugo awards. I read is as a part of Vorkosigan challenge at Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group.

The story starts with a captain of research ship Cordelia Naismith, whose team was attacked without a provocation while on the planet. She is taken prisoner by Captain Aral Vorkosigan, commanding the Barrayaran Imperial war cruiser General Vorkraft. Vorkosigan is widely known as the Butcher of Komarr, where he allegedly killed his prisoners after giving his word to save their lives. Barrayaran in general (based on some mixture of Sparta, Imperial Rome and Stalin’s USSR) are feared for their brutal handling of their enemies, including civilians. However, it turn out that not everyone of them is a villain. Vorkosigan is much more an old-fashion gentlemen than a brute. As they travel to a Barrayaran secret base, they fell in love. I rarely read romances and ones, which I meet in modern SFF are usually about teens, not 30 something established characters. However, in this case it is well done.

While reading other reviews, I saw that among female readers this book is ether 2* or 4-5* ratings, and the lower ones most often quote a problematic romantic relation between captor and captee, and the shadow of rape, which hangs over a large portion of the book. I guess the indignation would have been even higher if the author was male. I think they are wrong. In the case of a possible Stockholm syndrome, the roles are not so strictly defined. Vorkosigan is wounded and from the very start Cordelia knows that she can run away without problem, except that she, as a leader, should care about a disabled member of her team and that it is a ‘feral’ planet, where to survive you ought to team up. If there was a Betan station instead their roles would have reversed. Regarding the always present threat of rape, it is just a sad but true mirror of warfare, so don’t blame the mirror. The author isn’t insensitive, which is extremely well shown in the Epilogue, she just faces the facts.

For me this book was a great read, esp. for its dialogues. The story may look generic and simple, character development is not very prominent (both protagonists are middle aged after all), no great ‘what ifs’. But all is written masterfully, which made me smile (not chuckle on punch lines but smile wider and wider as I read).
Profile Image for William.
240 reviews35 followers
July 28, 2020
TLDR: Great sci-fi / military / romance novel that most mature adults can appreciate.

This was an interesting read for me. I had some kind of cold, and wasn't feeling very well about half way through, and ran afoul of the story just due to being under the weather, and not in a very good mood. Fortunately I went back and re-read the "offending" chapters after taking an aspirin, and quite enjoyed them. I nearly DNF'd a book due to a rotten mood, thank goodness for persistence, and the fact that a few of my goodreads friends rated it highly.

Characters: Most of the focus is on the two protagonists, Naismith and Vorkosigan, as their "Montague and Capulet" relationship grows from the smolders of a failed clandestine military operation. Both characters felt organically interesting, and were developed amidst an enjoyable supporting cast. It never really felt like Bujold's intent was to write a romance, or military story around them.

Story: I'll reveal something about myself here; I'm terrible at romance. It's always felt like a shoe on the wrong foot for me, and as such, I never know what feels "naturally romantic" in fiction. I'm also kind of a typical "guy reader", and had been on the fence about this one for a long time, fearing a "romance novel". Terrible, I know. I carried this pre-conception into the early reading, warily suspecting romance to ambush me at any moment. It was terrifying. What "jumped out of the bush" instead, was an exciting story about two characters I really liked. I honestly feel like this book can be completely misunderstood if one doesn't take the time to consider the protagonists' motivations. So many things seemed out of place, even cliche, until you really think about how Naismith and Vorkosigan view the world. I enjoyed the kind of "Dr. Zhivago" feeling of two people finding each other amidst chaos. A few folks I follow on Goodreads have commented about the predictability of the series, which if a fair criticism, I think, but not a definitive measure it's worth. So many of our modern stories are predictable, simply because we have seen, and read so much fiction. Most people probably had some idea of the story arc after the second chapter. I do, however, think it's possibly to tell a good story within these confines, and that Shards of Honor achieved this. If we eliminated mostly predictable fiction, not many new books would be written. Shards of Honor has it's share of surprises, and held my interest from cover to cover.

Setting: I got kind of a "Dune" feel from the Vorkosigan universe for some reason. The uniforms, the Barrayaran customs, characters with psychic abilities. Quite enjoyable. Like most of my favorite authors, Lois did a fantastic job subtly building the world through emergent storytelling, and using it as a stage for the actors. It's a difficult thing to do, making a world interesting without significantly contributing to deforestation. Craftsmanship.

Writing: This is my first Bujold novel, and I am a fan. In regards to writing characters, Lois may be my favorite author. Clear, functional language with negligible ornamentation was used very well here, allowing the story, rather than the words, to shine.

Final thoughts: I'm so, so happy I didn't let my crabby mood take this book away from me, and I'm looking forward to Barrayar.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,275 reviews227 followers
November 12, 2017
This review is for my reread of the Vorkosigan Saga with SpecFic Buddy Reads during 2017/18. I read this for the first time sometime during the 1990s as a follow-up after reading much later books in the series (Memory and onwards).

Commander Cordelia Naismith of the Beta Colonial Astronomical Survey is in a lot of trouble when soldiers from Barrayar attack her survey mission and kill one of her people. Most of the rest escape, but Cordelia and an injured crew-mate are left behind to be captured by a lone Barrayaran who turns out to be the legendary Aral Vorkosigan, known as the Butcher of Komarr. Cordelia and Aral must traverse 200 kms of hostile wilderness with a neurologically damaged man with them to face the people that tried to kill them both. But even after doing so the two are drawn together even though their worlds are at war.

This is a much younger and less sure of herself Cordelia than we get in later books, but she's still terrific. It's very clear why Aral, being who he is, would find her irresistible and the things that both of them have to overcome to be together make for a great story. The core of the story, regarding the concept of honor, how it's given and how it's spent remains solid.

However, from the point-of-view of an introduction to this universe, it has some heavy lifting to do and the worlds involved need a lot more work to flesh out than they get here. (They'll get it too, masterfully across the next two chronological books).
Profile Image for Daniel.
754 reviews74 followers
September 22, 2015
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 rado nastaviti sa serijalom.
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