Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga)
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Cover Artist: Paul Youll
Review by Gayle Surrette
Baen Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476781105
Date: 03 November 2015 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I'm a big fan of Lois MacMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga.
While this wasn't the first book published, it is where Cordelia Naismith of the Betan Expeditionary Force first met Aral Vorkosigan. Shards of Honor is a mixture of military sf, romance, and political intrigue with a strong female character who is smart, witty, and definitely not a shrinking violet waiting to be saved. Cordelia appealed to me when I first read the book years ago and my original copy is pretty ragged. Rereading this new release of the book for this review, I can say it still stands up well against the slew of strong females in leadership roles -- even ones in the military -- that have come on the scene over the last 24 years. Shards of Honor was followed by Barrayar where once again Cordelia was a major character. Following books deal with Cordelia and Aral's son Miles Vorkosigan. Baen is releasing a new book in the Vorkosigan series, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen in which once again Cordelia serves as a central role -- it will be out in February 2016.
In Shards of Honor, Cordelia and her crew have found a new world and are just beginning to explore it, doing the basic science of the flora and fauna of the world to determine its suitability for colonization, when they are attached by soldiers of Barrayar. Once Cordelia regains consciousness she's taken prisoner by Aral Vokosigan. It turns out that the attack on her crew of scientists was just a cover for an assassination attempt on him. To survive, Cordelia has to join forces with him and aid him to get his command back. However, it's more complicated than that or it wouldn't be much of a book.
They have to walk across a lot of land to get to the Barrayaran outpost. And along the way they learn a lot about each other, leading to a sort of understanding of where they stand and who they'll stand by. There's a conflict of loyalties that pulls them apart and a lot of political intrigue, uprising, misplaced loyalties, mutiny, and war. How it all works out and how their lives intertwine keeps the reader involved and reading.
There's plenty of action but even more interesting is the questions raised by the events of the story. It's the politics and people and how the two interrelate that keep the reader involved and reading, because these characters are so alive they nearly walk off the page, but still fit in so well with their world and their universe that they manage to stay on the page.
This is well worth reading or re-reading.