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Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
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Shards of Honor (original 1986; edition 2000)

by Lois McMaster Bujold, Suford Lewis (Afterword), James M. Bryant (Foreword)

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1,772653,970 (4.13)1 / 251
Member:EmptyOne
Title:Shards of Honor
Authors:Lois McMaster Bujold
Other authors:Suford Lewis (Afterword), James M. Bryant (Foreword)
Info:The NESFA Press (2000), Edition: First Cloth Edition, Hardcover, 239 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (1986)

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Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
I liked Shards of Honour more than I did the first time I read it, even though I'm sticking with my original three star rating. It's fun, and this time I did get more wrapped up in it, in following the politics and in following Cordelia and Aral as they get to know each other. I still don't quite get the enthusiasm over the whole series, but I've heard at least a dozen times that I'll get along better with the Miles books.

Still, I got along pretty well with this one. The concept of honour is a thing that will usually get to me with a character -- honour and loyalty in general. Juubei in GetBackers; Simon Tam in Firefly; Josceline Verreuil in Kushiel's Dart; Steve Rogers in Captain America -- and if they can be tortured, make mistakes, and still be people you root for, that's all the better. I know a lot of people love the mischievious tricksters with a heart that might just be gold after all, but I prefer the straight-forward ones, like Steve Rogers. And Aral is definitely one of those. Realising that helped me warm to him, even when he starts off not terribly sympathetic -- and you realise that he did kind of have a point, too: he suggests to Cordelia that they should end the suffering of a man who will never walk or possibly even think coherently ever again. Now, it sounds barbaric to her in the moment, but it occurs to her later (and to me almost immediately), that maybe the guy wouldn't have wanted to stay alive in the dependent existence that was his only chance. Certainly, I wouldn't -- and I've taken some pains to make sure my loved ones know it.

So I think the characterisation was more subtle here than I remembered, and I have grown sympathetic to Aral -- and to Cordelia, and what she goes through to get back to him. I remember liking Barrayar much less than this, but we'll see. And even if I still don't like it, I'll go on to read the Miles books, because I trust my partner's judgement there! ( )
  shanaqui | Nov 23, 2014 |
I think this is one of the best books published in the 1980s and definitely stands the test of time. ( )
  AmySterlingCasil | Jun 2, 2014 |
This book is combined with the story Barrayar to make the omnibus Cordelia's Honour.

This seems to be the first novel written in the Miles Vorkosigan saga (though in a slightly darker tone than the Miles books), and is the story of how his parents, on opposite sides in an interplanetary war, first met. The majority of the Vorkosigan saga is made up of stories about Miles, but these two books focus on his parents.

Commander Cordelia Naismith, Astrocartographer for the Betan Astronomical Survey, is leading an expeditionary team of scientists, surveying a newly discovered planet, when they are attacked by a Barrayaran military patrol. Most of her team manage to escape, but she and her botanist Dubauer find themselves captured by Aral Vorkosigan, the infamous Butcher of Komarr. Although it would seem that, especially given Aral Vorkosigan's terrifying reputation, they should be enemies, they find that they are attracted to each other's sense of honour, and that they do not always share the same point of view as their respective home planets' governments.

Shortly after she finally returns home to Beta Colony, her planet goes to war and Cordelia, now part of the Betan Expeditionary Force, finds herself once again ending up in enemy hands.

Red haired Cordelia (Anne of Green Gables, anyone?), though not an Amazon, is a very capable, resourceful woman and a strong, and honourable, heroine. Even though she works for Survey, rather than a military unit, she can think on her feet in combat situations. As a slightly older (33) heroine, she is well matched with a slightly older (44) hero - sometimes cast as an anti-hero. Vorkosigan is also honourable, although conflicted by duty.

This is probably my favourite book of the saga. This virgin planet has a lush landscape which Bujold describes beautifully. And the gentle romance in the background, between two 'mature' adults doesn't hurt, either. It's amusing to remember that I was younger than Cordelia (who is 33 years; Vorkosigan is 44) when I first read Shards of Honour, and - especially now I'm older - she doesn't seem preposterously old to be falling in love.

I could fall in love with Vorkosigan myself, the way his stern soldierly demeanour is lightened by sudden boyish grins. And the fact that he is very much a man of honour, holding tightly to it in spite of the dishonourable situations he is forced into by men in power.

I wish there were more stories in the Vorkosigan canon which focused on Cordelia and Aral. I rather feel that in the militaristic patriarchal society that Barrayar is, her talents are somewhat wasted.

This story is full of action, space battles, interplanetary politics, intraplanetary politics, honour, humanity - not forgetting romance. Very nicely written. I wouldn't mind seeing more Cordelia / Aral Vorkosigan stories.

I like the way that, throughout Shards of Honour, it's the damsel that inadvertently rescues the knight in military uniform. :0)

5***** ( )
  humouress | Apr 16, 2014 |
Cordelia Naismith is a terrific heroine and this is a wonderful love story. I listened to Shards of Honor in audio format, read by Grover Gardner. At first I thought the choice of a male narrator was strange until I remembered that most of the VORKOSIGAN books are written from Miles’ perspective. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Better than I expected...curious enough to read the next in the series (as recommended by the author as these don't have numbers and weren't written chronologically). Also, HumbleBundle? Pretty cool. ( )
  reluctantacademic | Mar 29, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lois McMaster Bujoldprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cherry, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gardner, GroverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gutierrez, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Pat Wrede
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A sea of mist drifted through the cloud forest, soft, grey, luminescent.
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And so he did, as shy as an apprentice saint washing his first leper.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671720872, Paperback)

Cordelia Naismith, Betan Survey Captain, was expecting the unexpected: hexapods, floating creatures, odd parasites... She was not, however, expecting to find hostile humans on an uninhabited planet. And she wasn't really expecting to fall in love with a 40-plus barbarian known to cosmopolitan galactics as the Butcher of Komarr. Will Mother ever understand? And can such an odd beast as love survive an interplanetary war?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:20 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Cordelia Naismith, Betan Survey Captain, was on a routine mission to study life forms on an uninhabited neutral planet. She was not, however, expecting to find hostile humans on an uninhabited planet. And she wasn't really expecting to fall in love with a 40-plus barbarian known to cosmopolitan galactics as the Butcher of Komarr.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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