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Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,364703,831 (4.31)1 / 173
Title:Cordelia's Honor
Authors:Lois McMaster Bujold
Info:Baen (1999), Mass Market Paperback, 608 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (1996)

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Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
Excellent. These two novels (Shards of Honor and Barrayar) addicted me to the Vorkosigan saga. Great plot, great characters and tremendous world building. Highly recommend. ( )
  phyllis2779 | Jul 21, 2017 |
Shards of Honour by Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the first books in the Vorkosigan saga, an epic military science fiction saga spanning many books, worlds and generations. I say one of the first because there is some lively debate as to reading order, but it is chronologically first (except for Falling Free which is set 200 years earlier) and was published first (by two months) but I seem to recall reading that it was written second, after The Warrior's Apprentice, but I can't find a link for that right now. In any case, it is an excellent place to start reading the Vorkosigan saga.

This was a re-read for me, motivated largely by the Vokosigan Saga Project I'm undertaking with Katharine, and one I want to review because — as with most of the Vokosigan books — I read it before I started blogging. I'm also mindful of the possibility of repeating myself. I'll obviously try not to, but as of this writing Katharine and I haven't done our discussion post so it's hard to predict which direction that might go.

Preamble aside, I definitely enjoyed this book more on a second read than on the first. The main reason for that is the first time I read it was after a lot of Miles books and was largely sad that I had run out of Miles books. I was also used to seeing Cordelia and Aral primarily as Miles's parents and not through their own eyes. When I picked it up this time, it was after a sizeable gap since any other Bujold/Vorkosigan books (I read Gentleman Jole just over a year ago) and I felt like I was coming to the series fresh. I really enjoyed reading Cordelia and Aral's story of their first few meetings. I also really enjoyed the setting of Sergyar and noticed a lot of things I didn't remember from the first read-through, like the fauna, which I noticed more in Gentleman Jole than in my first read of Shards of Honour.

I also found myself paying more attention to certain other aspects of the narrative, like the plot Aral was involved with in the second half of the book (spoilers omitted) and the ordeal Cordelia went through when she went home to Beta Colony after the war. Of course I remembered the part about Cordelia not fitting in, but it was more chilling this time around, having spent the past five years reading about feminism and gas-lighting. It makes for a thought-provoking read that made me feel very uncomfortable on Cordelia's behalf. As did what Aral was up to at the time.

Shards of Honour was an excellent read and I highly recommend it to fans of science fiction, feminism and military SF. As far as the Vorkosigan Saga is concerned, Shards of Honour is an excellent place to start reading. I very much wished I could start reading the next book (Barrayar, also featuring Cordelia and Aral) straight away but alas the blogging project means I have to wait a little bit.

4.5 / 5 stars


Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold is chronologically the second book in the main Vorkosigan Saga timeline. It's a direct sequel to Shards of Honour, with which it is now mostly sold in an omnibus edition. This is my second read of Barrayar, and will be discussed like Shards of Honour was as part of the great Vorkosigan Saga Project in the near future. This review (and the blurb) contains spoilers for Shards of Honour.

I mentioned this was a re-read for me. The main thing that stuck in my head was part of a climactic scene near the end (let's say related to the awesome cover art I managed to find). There was a lot of stuff I had forgotten, like an entire romantic subplot, which was fun to rediscover. I did find myself overly anticipating the climax, which coloured my reading a little.

Barrayar is a very intense read featuring Cordelia adjusting and being baffled by the more rigid Barrayaran society after giving up Betan life at the end of the previous book. She starts off hoping for a quiet life with Aral, but things don't go according to that plan at all. As well as major political events which force/allow Cordelia to kick some arse like she did in Shards of Honour, we are also privy to the relatively minor tribulations of fitting in with the much more conservative Barrayaran society. Cordelia trying to work out why certain taboos were taboos was pretty hilarious, especially since we, the readers, almost know the answers she's trying to work out.

Although my last read-through of this book was also immediately after Shards of Honour, I noticed a few new things this time around about the two books. Barrayar was written after Bujold had done additional worldbuilding through five (or six, depending on whether you count The Warrior's Apprentice) other books, and I noticed a few almost-plot-holes (worldbuilding gaps?) that Bujold was able to fill with Barrayar. Mostly involving Betan contraceptive practices and some of the events of the previous book. It was interesting to see that refinement in action, and how seamlessly it fit together.

Barrayar is an excellent read and a fitting and dramatic continuation of Cordelia's and Aral's story. I don't recommend reading it without having read Shards of Honour first, even if you've read later Miles books and know something about what happens. The two books really do form one story and very much belong in an omnibus together. I also suggest reading them at the start of the Vorkosigan Saga, although they (together) stand alone from the rest of the series reasonably well.

4.5 / 5 stars

You can find more reviews on my blog ( )
1 vote Tsana | Mar 18, 2017 |
Sorry, just not my kind of book. Got to p. 60. Soldiers and political intrigue, no. I do wonder if the very first objection I made should have been a tip-off: we learn on the first page that Cordelia's homeworld is called 'Beta Colony' but I seriously gotta wonder what kind of people wouldn't come up with a more creative name within a few years of settlement... probably not the kind of people I'm going to particularly care about.
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
Everything a Space Opera should be. Suspenseful, romantic, violent and so much more. A truly moving, and sometimes hilarious, tale of love and power in a future age that is reminiscent of the Medieval Europe. Would recommend to anyone looking for a lighter space opera that doesn't skimp on action. I will definitely read the next book, Warriors Apprentice, and the rest of the series. ( )
  bemidt | Apr 20, 2016 |
This is an omnibus edition of 'Shards of Honor' and 'Barrayar.'

'Shards of Honor' is the first novel in what has since become an extensive series (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vorkosigan_Saga#Works) 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 saga - but then, how could it, really? The world, and the people in it, have grown in the three decades since this book was written.

None of this is to say this isn't a good book. It is.
Non-combatant Betan scientist Captain Cordelia Naismith and her exploration team are ambushed and attacked by a group of militaristic Barrayaran soldiers. Next thing she knows, her spaceship must flee, leaving her behind. Also marooned on the planet is the Barrayaran commander Aral Vorkosigan, betrayed by his own men. Cooperation may be the only way that either of them can stay alive - and the only way that Cordelia can keep a severely injured member of her crew alive, as well. Forced into proximity, the two of them may learn that although they come from wildly disparate cultures, as individuals they may have more in common than they would have guessed.

That's just the beginning of the story, and it progresses with plenty of action, but also with a very realistic, human focus on emotions, values, and decision-making.

At the end of the book, 'Aftermaths,' a separate short story which was actually written (and published) before the rest of the book, goes even farther with that theme. It gives us a look at an aspect of space battles that action-packed stories of glory usually skip - the civil servants employed to collect the corpses floating in space, working an unpleasant but necessary job. It's a powerful and heartwrenching tale.

The chronological sequel to 'Shards of Honor,' 'Barrayar' follows Cordelia Naismith as she defects from Beta, in order to make her way to Barrayar and find her former captor Aral Vorkosigan - a man she has come to love and respect.

It's not incomprehensible that her Betan psychologists assume that she must be suffering from something like Stockholm syndrome, or some more insidious mental conditioning. The suspicion cast on her means that even though the war between Beta and Barrayar is technically over, Cordelia must leave the familiar comforts of home behind and give herself fully to her new life on primitive, violent, militaristic Barrayar. Nearly immediately she finds herself plunged into the dizzying complexity of the upper levels of Barrayaran politics, as Aral discovers that the peaceful retirement he'd been planning is not in the cards for him. And that's not the only sudden change: Cordelia is pregnant.

If you've read later books in this series, a great deal of this book is a lot of tension waiting for certain events that you've already read about, to happen. It's intentional on the author's part - this book involves her backtracking and filling in details about events that have already been referred to in other books. I think it would be an equally enjoyable, although different, experience to read it without already having been introduced to Miles and knowing the difficulties and circumstances surrounding his birth. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lois McMaster Bujoldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Athanas, CharlieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruddell, GaryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Shards of Honor:
To Pat Wrede
for being a voice
in the wilderness
Barrayar: For Anne and Paul
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A sea of mist drifted through the cloud forest: soft, grey, luminescent.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In this two-part story, Cordelia Naismith, made an outcast after being forced into marriage with her arch enemy, finds further trouble when her husband is made the guardian of the infant heir to the imperial throne

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