Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

Shards of Honour  (Vorkosigan Saga, #1)
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Challenges - Discussion > Vorkisigan 1 -- Shards of Honor

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message 1: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3720 comments Mod
This is a discussion for the first book is the series. Spoilers allowed but in a first few posts it is advisable to hide them in spoiler tags if some members try to catch up later and check the thread before finishing the book


J.W. | 22 comments My wife and I are both reading this now. For me it is a re-read. Love the whole series and I’m excited to get back into it.


message 3: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3720 comments Mod
J.w. wrote: "My wife and I are both reading this now. For me it is a re-read. Love the whole series and I’m excited to get back into it."

It is great to hear you read it together, for many our members grumbled (good-naturally) that their spouse doesn't read SFF despite their efforts


message 4: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Jan 11, 2020 08:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
Z, thanks for deciding to put up these individual threads. I was indecisive about whether to do it or not.


message 5: by Joe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joe Santoro | 210 comments I'll stick with non-spoilers for now...

Anyone know if the Barrayarians are Klingon-like on purpose? I know this was written a bit before ST:TNG, but the personality of Vorkosigan would fit there so well!

I was surprised by the end how much a was rooting for Cordelia.. she's not usually the sort of character I get behind.

I'm hoping for a lot more world building as the series continues.. there's tons of potential, but this book focused much more on establishing the characters than anything else.

Definitely a great read, especially considering it's the author's first!


message 6: by Antti (last edited Jan 12, 2020 03:06AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 801 comments Joe: I'd guess both Klingons and Barrayarians are modeled after Spartans and other ancient warrior cultures, and that's why they seem so similar.

SoH definitely has lots of potential, although the end dragged a bit long. I actually liked that the worldbuilding stayed mostly in the background and was only hinted at: no infodumps here! The world felt more "real" that way and I could look forward of learning more in the following books.

I appreciated that the characters were middle-aged and - not counting the "falling in love at first sight" bit - behaved like ones, too. So much classic and current SF/F is directed at younger audiences (not just YA and juveniles, but books like Ender's Game, as well), so it's nice to read something where the characters are the same age as I am and are dealing with recognizable middle-aged worries, amid the more urgent "trying to stay alive" worries.


message 7: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
Annti. Just to let you know. I consider this on of her weaker books. So you are going to have a good time!

I have been worried that people would not like this one and quit


Aine Miller | 5 comments I really enjoyed this and had not read any of hers before this one. I enjoyed the "opposites attract" and Cordelia was great, some really exciting parts to the book.

SPOILERS
At first when we met Vorkosigan I thought that his people were a different species altogether, I thought that their love really was between a human and an "alien" so to speak. I don't know why, from the description of him, that I didn't pick up on this sooner that I did!

Cordelia is a great protaganist! Pretty kick-ass. I loved the head melt of her going back home but nobody believing her and thinking she had been brainwashed . The part with the psychiatrist... in its way nearly as invasive as her previous encounter with the rapist and torturer!

A very good intro to the series and had me rushing on to the next book. It would make a good film or series, going by the first couple of books...

No, no danger of me not liking this one and quitting, I gave it 5 stars! It had me gripped.


message 9: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
And they just get better and better


message 10: by Gabi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gabi | 546 comments I started it and so far it is fun. It's nice to have a setting on an alien planet with according fauna, and not political fractions talking about political stuff (I've read too many of those the last months and can stand them anymore).


message 11: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3720 comments Mod
I started it yesterday and it is interesting but so far SF element is on background and with slight changes it could be a fantasy or even a contemporary fiction.


message 12: by Gabi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gabi | 546 comments I have to take back my initial impression. We're back to political and social issues. Well, it was nice while it lasted :D.

Joking aside. It is still fun to read, and LMB is good with characters.


message 13: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Jan 13, 2020 08:28AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
Yes, Gabi, I don't like the political stuff either in most books, (which is why an unsure about how I will like Leviathin Wakes) but in this series, it's always very well done. Even fun!


Antti Värtö (andekn) | 801 comments Aine wrote: "SPOILERS"

(view spoiler)


message 15: by Gabi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gabi | 546 comments I absolutely agree with your comment about grey area, Antti! I appreciated that she left me as a reader on my own.


message 16: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
What a great analysis, Annti!


message 17: by Joe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joe Santoro | 210 comments I really thought Bothari was interesting.. I could definitely get into a story about what made him the way he was. It almost seemed as if his bad behaviors were pre-conditioned and he had no control over it.

I agree Codelia's homecoming was great.. my favorite part of the book. Having her warn the handlers she wasn't up for an event, then her reaction to it was amazing.

I didn't like the whole stuttering thing though... I feel like LMB was trying to hard to convince us that just maybe she WAS brainwashed, which would have ruined the book, IMO.

The love sick puppies routine more suitable for teenagers aside, I too appreciated heroes that weren't little kids.. while the coming of age story where you grow up the character is great, there are other storytelling methods out there.

Book 2 is in transit from my home library to my town, so hopefully I'll get to it next week (reading some Jack Reacher while I'm waiting)


Lee at ReadWriteWish (leeatreadwritewish) | 68 comments I loved this book.

Unlike others, I do not get a Klingon vibe at all. One of my favourite love stories ever is the Adama/Roslin one in Battlestar Galactica series and a friend who also loved them recced me this, saying Cordelia and Aral reminded her of them. I have to agree. I actually have to stop myself picturing Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell as I read!

Like others, my favourite part was when Cordelia goes home and everyone thinks she's been brainwashed.

I'll believe in the love at first sight. Although, I don't know if it was first sight completely. I think it's more of a mutual respect and sexual attraction that has no other outcome other than marriage, considering their circumstances.

Their ages are PERFECT. I am SO sick of romances featuring teenagers. Love is wasted on youth (hee). I appreciated that LMB showed that putting aside their personal relationship due to their responsibilities/duties was just as much of a struggle as it would have been for a younger couple. Knowing that the books transition into younger characters is why I have never bothered reading past the first two books.

Cordelia is fabulous. She's no damsel in distress. She and Aral are true equals, really.

Aral is also fabulous. A man of honour, a man you can depend upon, well respected. I really liked how everyone thinks a woman like Cordelia wouldn't find him attractive. It's excellent that readers can learn that attraction isn't always about looks.

Yes, I guess I read the book for the romance, I admit it. I love that it's good scifi romance (so rare). I also like that there is lots of other plot and storyline going on for those who aren't so keen on romance. It's a book both genders can enjoy too.

A lot of people say this isn't her best writing but I enjoyed her style and thought it was very accomplished. I don't mind lots of dialogue. All her scifi aspects felt just right. Everything seemed realistic.

Definitely one of my favourite books ever.


message 19: by Gabi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gabi | 546 comments Agreed, Lee. Cordelia is fabulous.

I read too many I-don't-care-about-the-characters space opera novels last year (some Expanse series, some Alliance series, Deepness in the sky, This alien shore), that I feared it would turn into one of those when it changed from the planet exploration plot to politics and space battle. But Cordelia really saved the day, cause she got me hooked.


Lee at ReadWriteWish (leeatreadwritewish) | 68 comments Gabi wrote: "Agreed, Lee. Cordelia is fabulous.

I read too many I-don't-care-about-the-characters space opera novels last year (some Expanse series, some Alliance series, Deepness in the sky, This alien shore)..."


Yes, she's almost the perfect model for feminism in scifi. She's strong without having to resort to using weapons. She uses her brains and logic and ingenuity to get herself (and Aral and her crew) out of tight spots instead. She is tall and attractive but does not think twice about enhancing her looks and does not use her looks as a weapon either. She believes in equity between the sexes and yet can happily admit to yielding to romantic love. I'm sure there's more. LOL


message 21: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
Just you wait! I'm excited that everyone is having fun . . . and just wait . . . if you think THIS one is good!


message 22: by J.W. (new) - rated it 5 stars

J.W. | 22 comments Okay, circling back in. Glad my wife and I can enjoy books together--we made a commitment to read one book a month together as a kind of book club. Sometimes we aren't as enthused about each other's choices, and I'm definitely a much bigger scifi/fantasy buff than she is, but she enjoys it well enough.

Her comments on "Shards" - she was surprised by how quickly some of the scenes transitioned. Like "oh, we're in a new place entirely now." Said it was a great change of pace from other SFF books that get so bogged down in details and exposition that they stop moving the story along. Also appreciated the characters.

For me, I am about 80% through now, listening on audiobook. Loving it the second time through, maybe more than the first. I really love the way that Vorkorsigan and Cordelia interact and the genuine way it develops through the book. Also a fan of just moving the plot along instead of getting bogged down. Don't get me wrong, I love ridiculous amounts of detail, but sometimes I just want to read something that moves quickly, and this is one of those.

I agree that the rest of the series is excellent, as well. I am re-reading it all for this.


message 23: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3720 comments Mod
I finished the book yesterday and if Kate says it is a weaker one, I'll gladly continue with the series. Before writing my review (here - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ) I checked reviews of the people I follow and saw that some reviewers see Bujold's writing as insensitive, which surprised me. I fully support her boldness in depicting grey areas.


message 24: by Eva (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eva | 0 comments Yes, I agree that Shards (while still really enjoyable) is a weaker one compared to the rest of the series.

I also liked her messed-up characters and boldness of including all kinds of issues - it represents the attitude that no matter what, your situation is workable, you can still be loved by someone, still be accepted, still lead a life full of meaning. That's also what makes Miles (as a disabled character who struggles with self-acceptance and would like to be an action hero) so memorable and engaging for me.


message 25: by Aine (last edited Jan 17, 2020 07:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aine Miller | 5 comments Ooh I must find out how to hide spoilers?

Yes Cordelia and Aral are great characters that I really cared about... the mark of a good book I think... like Gabi said, there are a lot of books which are good enough but where you don't end up caring that much about the characters. This makes a big difference.

Bothari yes is an interesting character!

I'm excited that the rest of the books get even better. I just finished the Warrior's Apprentice and am enjoying Miles a lot. Looking forward to how this all progresses. I like her writing and ideas.


Antti Värtö (andekn) | 801 comments You can use spoiler tags by writing <spoiler> YOUR SPOILER HERE </spoiler >


Allan Phillips | 2088 comments Mod
The first Bujold books I read were The Curse of Chalion & Paladin of Souls last year. Chalion was fantastic, hit the spot for me, and I consider it among my all-time favorites. If you consider those among her best, I'm stepping down in at least a chunk of Vorkosigan. Shards is definitely a few steps down but has a similar style if not the depth, sort of a lighter, old school sci-fi vibe, and I'm enjoying it. Trying to finish it tonight & will go right into Barrayar. I've already got The Warrior's Apprentice queued up on audio & won't hesitate to start it without finishing the others since it starts a separate chain.


message 28: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3720 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "The first Bujold books I read were The Curse of Chalion & Paladin of Souls last year. Chalion was fantastic, hit the spot for me,."

Yes, the first two books were great, the third a bit weaker. They clearly show a matured author. Vorkosigan seems exactly like you say, old school sci-fi vibe even as it works with newer 'woke' themes - feminism, disabilities, mental disorders...

What surprises me is that if one just described what this book is about, I'd go meh, no character development, no novel ideas, etc. But it turned out great even without them


message 29: by J.W. (new) - rated it 5 stars

J.W. | 22 comments I’ve been wondering how everyone says “Barrayar” in their heads.

I had been saying Buh-RAY-er. My wife internally said Buh-ruh-YAR. The narrator of Shards on the audiobook (presumably correct) says Barry-ARE as I recall.


message 30: by J.W. (new) - rated it 5 stars

J.W. | 22 comments Dk his that got cut off. Narrator says Barry-ARR.


Kirsten  (kmcripn) I loved this book and the follow-up too. I love the characters but I especially love the world building. Barrayar is imperial, very right-wing. Whereas Cordelia's world is very left leaning. I love that her people won't let you have kids until you're ready and tie your tubes immediately upon puberty. Love the idea of a uterine replicator. We need those here.


message 32: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3720 comments Mod
Kirsten #winniethepoohday #nationalgourmetcoffeeday wrote: "Barrayar is imperial, very right-wing. Whereas Cordelia's world is very left leaning."

I guess they are both stable, so that % of conservatives in both populations is actually close. It is only that Betans are on a post-scarcity level of technology, so they can afford universal access and so on. Barrayar is a traditional medieval society that suddenly got advanced tech, but culture cannot change overnight, so they still despise and kill 'weaklings' for under the old setting they were unable to support them


Allan Phillips | 2088 comments Mod
Finished Shards, moving on to Barrayar. Having read some of her other books, you can see that she's early on as a writer. It's not as cohesive and flowing but still had some of the same characteristics. I found Cordelia's escapes too convenient and unlikely, same with the love at first bite. He's awfully human for a Barryaran, don't you think? Still, it was a decent read and you can see the beginnings of her strengths that come out in later books.


message 34: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3720 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "I found Cordelia's escapes too convenient and unlikely."

It will continue in the 2nd book, but I liked the story enough to overlook it. BTW this 'lucky strikes' reminds me of older SF as well


message 35: by Eva (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eva | 0 comments Barrayarans *are* humans. ;-)


message 36: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3720 comments Mod
Eva wrote: "Barrayarans *are* humans. ;-)"

Just not humanitarian enough :)


message 37: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
Oh, I think as you keep reading through the series, you will see (view spoiler)


Cordelia (anne21) | 57 comments That was so good. I really enjoyed it. Will move on to the next one soon.


message 39: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura (lauradragonchild) | 10 comments Can I still join for this even if it's Feb already? I wanted to read this series for a very long time now.


message 40: by J.W. (new) - rated it 5 stars

J.W. | 22 comments I’m not in charge but I say yes!!


message 41: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3720 comments Mod
Laura wrote: "Can I still join for this even if it's Feb already? I wanted to read this series for a very long time now."

Yes, you can and should. You can even join and tell what you think about the previous reads, it is perfectly fine to post your comments anywhere in discussion threads, don't be shy to do it!


Kalin | 700 comments I also just started it this week -- and I'm going to finish it by tonight! :)


message 43: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3720 comments Mod
Kalin wrote: "I also just started it this week -- and I'm going to finish it by tonight! :)"

You are quite fast! I need I guess at least two more days to finish


message 44: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Feb 04, 2020 05:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
there is a list of proposed schedule for reading the Vorkosigan books in this thread https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/.... You have 2 months to catch up but we can slow down if everyone wants to.

But I think you will find these go really quick.

I will tell again the story of my friend who refused to take all of the books I had initially. She only took half because she reads slowly. There were probably 12, maybe 13 then. In two weeks she was at my door to get the rest. All she did for two weeks was read them.

So I feel that late starters will catch up because they are just so much fun, and even if you don't we will still be commenting with you.


message 45: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura (lauradragonchild) | 10 comments Oleksandr wrote: "Laura wrote: "Can I still join for this even if it's Feb already? I wanted to read this series for a very long time now."

Yes, you can and should. You can even join and tell what you think about t..."


Thank you! :) I'll start book 1 this week then and try and catch up with everyone else. Will open all the spoilers here as I read.


message 46: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura (lauradragonchild) | 10 comments Kateblue wrote: "there is a list of proposed schedule for reading the Vorkosigan books in this thread https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/.... You have 2 months to c..."

Thank you. :) Just checked it out. I have all the books in this series but I will have to hunt for the shorts. So I signed up for 16 books but I'll modify the goal if I get the others too. I love Bujold!!


message 47: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3720 comments Mod
Laura wrote: " I have all the books in this series but I will have to hunt for the shorts."

Note that some editions include shorts, like Young Miles includes The Mountains of Mourning novella


message 48: by Kalin (last edited Feb 05, 2020 10:46AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kalin | 700 comments So I did finish last night. I wasn't super impressed, some of the prose felt a bit awkward and I appreciate that it's been mentioned as weaker than some of her following novels, and reads very much like an author's early work. It's the first LMB book I've read, despite having Curse of Chalion sitting on my shelf at home for a year.

The themes weren't really in my ballpark of interests. I don't care about honor as a motivating theme, not much interested in military hierarchies, imperial powers, or warrior societies, and I'm still not sure I'm enthusiastic about romance in SF. But I did manage to get sucked in -- the book reads very easily, and I found myself rooting for the characters. I'm looking forward to Barrayar.


message 49: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
Very astute, Kalin. Shards of Honor is her very first novel. Barrayar is much better.


message 50: by Nick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 137 comments What a very readable book! I whizzed right through it yesterday afternoon.

I think I am more than half in love with Captain Cordelia Naismith. It's wonderful to see a character who is intelligent, capable, moral - all without being a Mary-Sue. I believe this was written back in the 80s? They don't make 'em like they used to!

I also admired the deft balancing of moods - most of the book is a romance and it reads like one! A lot of the scenes between Aral and Cordelia were pitch perfect wordplay of the kind you get in the best romances. But at the same time there were the darker subjects like the hell-of-war and all the rape, torture, and paranoia (that psychiatrist!) that goes with it! And they didn't seem too jarring, even though very different.


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