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Shards of Honour

(Vorkosigan Saga (Publication Order) #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  33,265 ratings  ·  2,091 reviews
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.
Paperback, 253 pages
Published December 1st 2003 by Earthlight (first published January 1st 1986)
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A Holscher This Book is the most romantic of the series, which is sci-if action. Wonderful older-than-most romantic characters, and a hilarious proposal. More vi…moreThis Book is the most romantic of the series, which is sci-if action. Wonderful older-than-most romantic characters, and a hilarious proposal. More violence than in romance novels, and no cooing and billing at all. Still, a very good romantic read, especially if you like the theme of Honor.(less)
Jackson Petro Not truly, but with a few important caveat. There are characters and they have sex. But in this entire series which I have reread thrice, I cannot rec…moreNot truly, but with a few important caveat. There are characters and they have sex. But in this entire series which I have reread thrice, I cannot recall anything I would call sexually explicit in the titillating sense. When sex is discussed it either is (1) not detailed in any sort of titillating way, often recollected or just skimmed over as having occurred and not described. (2) It is mentioned in the context of social implications (this is the most common actually and comes up more in late books). Or (3) in one occurrence in this book it is discussing the occurrence of an aborted rape. The language used on this occasion is in my mind rather clinical, and the entire situation is more viewed more through a psychological lens rather than a physical one, no upsetting physical description beyond the fact that the occurrence itself is naturally upsetting. This can no doubt be disturbing to some readers but the incident is pretty profound in the development of three different characters, the rape is aborted, and is nothing I think I would object to even a child of suitable maturity reading. (less)

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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
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
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
Feb 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: female-lead, sci-fi
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
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joel 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
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 t
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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 we
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
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 pret
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 po
Dec 30, 2011 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
Milda Page Runner
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Milda by: Caro the Helmet Lady

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
Althea Ann
Dec 04, 2015 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 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read, audiobook
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,
Caro the Helmet Lady
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
Feb 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 scie
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 surv
Dirk Grobbelaar
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 publica
Jun 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this in line for a ticket to Dragon*con last year. Thus began the Autumn When Miles Vorkosigan Ate My Brain.
Oleksandr Zholud
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vorkosigan-1
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 r
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 b
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Intelligent adults
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 f
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: locus_nominees
3.5 stars rounded up, because it gets stronger towards the end and that's what stucks most.

It started as a surprise with an exploration scene on an alien planet and got me all hyped up, because I'm desperately looking for SF exploration novels which don't seem to exist. Well, the joy was short-lived cause the plot soon turned to your usual politics, space battle, social structure narration I've read too many books of during the last year.
BUT it has Cordelia Naismith, a wonderful authentic charac
Allison Hurd
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fem-author, scifi
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
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
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
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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

Other books in the series

Vorkosigan Saga (Publication Order) (1 - 10 of 16 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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