carol. 's Reviews > Shards of Honor

Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
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bookshelves: sci-fi, female-lead

Be warned: the jacket blurb describes only a minor portion of the story.

My version, you ask?

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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?

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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 (view spoiler) 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."


Cross posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/0...
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
February 9, 2012 – Shelved
February 10, 2012 – Shelved as: sci-fi
February 10, 2012 – Shelved as: female-lead

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

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message 1: by Amanda (new)

Amanda I love the "comfort-food delight" analogy. I like a "cotton candy for the brain" book every now and then! Great review.


carol. Thank you, Amanda. It did start to sound like cheese when I was writing my review, but it really was an enjoyable read.


Michael Love the analogy to "melty goodness". As her first novel, the strengths and weaknesses you found are well founded.

I wouldn't necessarily call the book a "prequel", but the novel the led the author into the world she made and on the path toward a focus on Cordelia's son. But you are right that it could be considered an optional read for fans of Mile's saga. Bujold's thoughts on the reading smorgasbord: Vorkosigan Reading Order--The Chef Recommends.


carol. Michael wrote: "Love the analogy to "melty goodness". As her first novel, the strengths and weaknesses you found are well founded.

I wouldn't necessarily call the book a "prequel", but the novel the led the auth..."


Thanks for the link. I think I was being a purist and starting with what was listed as book one.


Michael Carol wrote: "...Thanks for the link. I think I was being a purist and starting with what was listed as book one. ..."

We are mirror images with me just turning to the Bujold fantasies after taking a late tour of the Vorkosigan saga. So you can envy me a first read of Paladin of Souls while I root for you with a likely read of The Warriors Apprentice.


message 6: by Carly (last edited Jul 14, 2013 04:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carly Carol, if you can stand it and you do want to do the "purist" thing, by the time you've already read Shards, I'm tempted to suggest reading Cordelia's Honor next, if only for the background that it provides for Warrior's Apprentice. I (of course) read them all totally out of order, but CH explained so many of the underlying tensions in WA that it actually got me to reread WA. The caveat: WA is a romp through space and a genuinely fun read; CH isn't.
*CA->CH. sheesh, I can't even abbreviate correctly.


carol. Thanks, Carly and Michael. It'll likely be awhile before I get back to the series, but I'll try to remember your suggestions!


message 8: by Eric (new)

Eric I see this is the first book in a series, could it be read as a stand-alone, or would you need to continue on to the next book to continue the story?


carol. It stands alone well.


message 10: by Eric (new)

Eric Good, I got it as part of the latest Humble Bundle and didn't want to commit to another who-knows-how-long series right now.


carol. Ah, I saw that. It looked like a good deal. I have already read most of the books and would in general recommend them.


Clouds It's sitting on my shelf and looking at me.
Must resists the lure of the Vorkosigans...


Carly Clouds wrote: "It's sitting on my shelf and looking at me.
Must resists the lure of the Vorkosigans..."


But isn't irresistibility basically Miles' superpower? Argh, now I'm tempted to go back and read the early books in the series.


William I enjoyed this first book a lot, although it's a bit young-adult. Unfortunately, the later character of Miles is pretty obnoxious!

Thank you for the review!


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