Vorkosigan Group Read: Cordelia's Honor

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Vorkosigan Group Read: Cordelia's Honor

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Edited: Dec 25, 2013, 7:48pm

Welcome to the Vorkosigan Group Read of Cordelia's Honor

Cordelia's Honor

Shards of Honor


Edited: Dec 25, 2013, 7:55pm

Please join in if you are reading or wish to discuss Cordelia's Honor, Shards of Honor and/or Barrayar.

Two requests please. First, when discussing please let us know which book you are referring to. Second, please mark your spoilers!

You can mark them any way you like as long as it gives us ample time to avoid your spoiler. I usually use *Spoiler* but lately I have been using this nifty little spoiler feature It's pretty cool isn't it?

That's it. Join in wherever you are. I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Edited: Jan 1, 2014, 8:41pm

Shards of Honor is the first book published in the Vorkosigan Saga and the second in chronological order. from Wikipedia Captain Cordelia Naismith of Beta Colony meets and eventually falls in love with Captain Lord Aral Vorkosigan of Barrayar when they are both stranded on an uninhabited planet.

Barrayar is the seventh book published but the events follow Shards of Honor. I'll update this part later to avoid spoilers.

ETA: Thanks to Jenn (jjmcgaffey) for catching that Shards of Honor is second and not third in chronological order.

Edited: Dec 25, 2013, 8:18pm

Lois McMaster Bujold is the author of The Vorkosigan Saga. She has won numerous awards, including The Hugo Award and The Nebula Award. Two of her other series are The Chalion Series and The Sharing Knife Series.

Edited: Dec 25, 2013, 8:13pm

If you see any errors in publication or chronological order please PM me corrections! I will edit and give you credit.

Here we go!

Edited: Dec 25, 2013, 8:20pm

There are so many covers in the Vorkosigan Saga. Please feel free share your cover if it differs from the ones above or you just think one is the coolest.

Jan 1, 2014, 9:18pm

I'll get back home on the 5th and start rereading then and posting to this thread. Looking forward to it!!

Jan 1, 2014, 10:59pm

Thanks for creating the group. I have started reading Shards of Honour.

Jan 2, 2014, 11:10pm

Roni - Jump right in! Glad to have you on board. I love that you are rereading the series.

Piyush - Paulina (mathgirl40) started this group read. I enthusiastically offered to help her with one of the threads. I'll probably start Shards of Honour sometime next week. I look forward to your thoughts.

Jan 3, 2014, 2:15am

#9 And my thanks for creating this arm of the Bigger Group Read :) I like what I have read till now, of Shards of Honour.

Jan 4, 2014, 9:39pm

I'm a few chapters into Shards of Honor right now, and already I'm totally hooked!

Jan 4, 2014, 10:55pm

Shards of Honor went pretty fast. I'm now reading Barrayar.

Jan 4, 2014, 11:18pm

Piyush - I'll be starting Shards of Honor on audio soon.

Paulina - I'm thrilled that you are hooked! As soon as I finish Neverwhere, Shards of Honor is up next on my audio queue.

OldDan - Welcome! Sounds promising that you read the first so fast and went straight to Barrayar. Feel free to post your thoughts.

Jan 5, 2014, 3:35am

#13 Like Dan mentioned in #12, Shards of Honour is a fast read, I will finish it sometime early next week. I read my first and then the second Gaiman only in 2013, I am happy that there many more for me to read, Neverwhere among them :)

Jan 5, 2014, 10:38am

I have Cordelia's Honour, with exactly that cover (very metallic), and have started re-re-reading Shards of Honour.

I read these books (the first time around) first on the assumption that they were the first chronologically (well, almost). I think they are my favourite of the series; I sometimes wish that Aral and Cordelia would get another story of their own, instead of just being supporting cast for Miles's story.

I'll check as I go along, but I think the detail in Shards of Honour is richer than we see in the books about Miles, which are a bit more light-hearted.

By the way, what is the spoiler feature? I remember that the last time I came across it, it didn't work on my Mac, and I could, in fact, see the spoiler info.

Edited: Jan 5, 2014, 11:02am

Nina - I'll PM you the spoiler feature. I have a Mac and I use it.

Edited: Jan 6, 2014, 11:11am

Came on LT to post this, and lost an hour and a half catching up on threads. Hmmf.

On this re-read, I'm picking up on the humour in Shards of Honour. I'm also noticing the richness of detail; the descriptions of the landscape, for instance, and the fact that Cordelia's team landed on the planet to survey it. In the first few chapters, Bujold has not just given us their designations and equipment, but given us incidences that highlight their work.

On this planet where the flora and fauna are foreign to them, Cordelia and Vorkosigan have killed a native creature for fresh meat:

"How do you like yours?" Vorkosigan asked. "Rare? Medium?"

"I think it had better be well done," suggested Cordelia. "We hadn't completed the parasite survey yet."

Vorkosigan glanced at his cube with a new dubiousness. "Ah. Quite," he said faintly."

ETA : for enhanced clarity

Edited: Jan 5, 2014, 9:48pm

While Falling Free takes place in the Vorkosigan universe and so is technically part of the series, it does not involve Barrayar or the Vorkosigans at all, and the events taking place in it do not intersect the main Vorkosigan story line until halfway through the series, and then in only a minor way. Personally, it is NOT the book I would recommend to someone wanting to start the series, being quite different in tone.

I read my personally autographed 1986 first printing mass market paperback edition of Shards of Honor last night and today, refreshing my memory of the story. This was Bujold's earliest published book but although you will see a great leap in her writing skills between this and Barrayar, which was her 7th written book, the characters still leap out at me with their integrity and the verisimilitude of the clashing cultures with their background details. Still fascinating after all these years...

ETA Roberta, any excuse!

Jan 6, 2014, 3:56pm

I am just about finished Barrayar and can certainly see a difference in the author's writing from Shards of Honor, Barrayar is much more meaty in characterization, plot and style. I love Cordelia and her internal thoughts on her life on this new-to-her planet and it's inhabitants.

Jan 6, 2014, 8:34pm

I just finished Shards of Honor in my omnibus edition of Cordelia's Honor and will head straight to Barrayar. I really enjoyed the book, this is my first introduction to Bujold's work and I am hooked. I'm disappointed that Cordelia and Aral aren't the protagonists of the whole series, though, although I haven't even met Miles yet.

More thoughts as the book sinks in a bit more.

Jan 6, 2014, 10:10pm

>18 ronincats:, I agree that Falling Free is a better book to read once the reader is more familiar with the Vorkosigan books.

I am a good way in to my re-read of Shards of Honor, and I wish I'd stuck tape flags on some of the particularly lovely or interesting things I swore at the time I'd remember when it came time for the discussing. I'll do that from now on.

Jan 7, 2014, 12:17am

I finished Barrayar this evening. I really enjoyed this book and I am going to miss having Cordelia as the main character as the focus will now shift to Miles. My personal favorite of the supporting characters is Bothari. Can anyone assure me that he will be in the next book, The Warrior's Apprentice?

Jan 7, 2014, 12:43am

>22 DeltaQueen50: He is indeed. But be careful what you wish for.

Jan 7, 2014, 1:46am

Just finished Barrayar! I'm not ready to say goodbye to Cordelia yet.

I've really enjoyed both books, I especially love the way that Bujold writes her characters. They seem like living, breathing people, flawed but trying their best. Even the villains are portrayed with compassion.

Jan 7, 2014, 9:40am

I finally started Shards of Honor last night. I'm just a couple of chapters in but I am liking it. All of your comments are motivating me to get to it, but darn if I don't have to work!

Jan 7, 2014, 4:22pm

#23 - Thanks for the info - even if it does sound ominous.

Jan 7, 2014, 10:47pm

I just finished Shards of Honor today and added a review on my thread. I enjoyed this one much more than I thought I would, perhaps because my expectations had been low. A couple of friends told me that the Cordelia books are not as good as the Miles books, but I'm not sure I agree.

Jan 7, 2014, 11:04pm

Paulina I'll check out your review when I finish the book. I like it so far.

Jan 8, 2014, 1:25am

#23. Oh, no! That doesn't sound encouraging. Now I'll have to continue with the series! Glad I filled my car up with gas today so I can make another trip to the library.

Jan 8, 2014, 8:38pm

It was suggested to me that I post my review of Shards of Honor here as well as on my thread. As I'd already mentioned some of the points earlier, I'll just add a few other thoughts from the review.

I'd read the later Vorkosigan books (from Komarr onwards) first and Cordelia really didn't stand out in those, so I was pleasantly surprised to find her such an interesting character. As some of you had already mentioned, Bujold's writing seems much less polished in this first book, but the depth of the characters and the great storytelling are there already.

Jan 10, 2014, 2:34pm

#30: Thanks, Paulina! What made Cordelia compelling in these books?

I did notice a few awkward sentences in Shards of Honor, but it never jumped out at me that much, because of the characters and the storytelling. Barrayar didn't have any writing-style things that jumped out at me, but I didn't notice anything otherwise.

Other thoughts about Shards of Honor/Barrayar now that I've had time to think about them:
- I do wish that there were more books from Cordelia's PoV – I want to know if she ever makes it back to Beta Colony and what they think of her now that she's clearly not an agent spying on them. I hope she can reunite with her family somewhat. (spoiler only for Shards of Honor)

- I loved Cordelia and Aral's romance/courtship/whatever it was. I usually think whirlwind romances/love-at-first-sight is implausible and annoying, but it somehow worked – probably because they were stuck on that planet together and saw each other at their weakest. I also love the "two enemies stranded together on a planet" trope. I love how it develops in Barrayar too.

- Like others have said, I really enjoyed the character of Bothari – he's such a contradiction. I'm not sure I could trust him like Cordelia does, but if I didn't trust him, I definitely couldn't trust him. I hope that makes sense.

- I didn't realise Miles was handicapped. That definitely should make him a much more interesting protagonist, especially in Barrayar. (This isn't a spoiler, right?)

- I'm not sure why Barrayaran society is so compelling, but it is. Sci-fi books/shows love the noble warrior society headed by an Emperor-type, and they're always so interesting, despite the cliche! Does anyone have any thoughts about it?

Jan 10, 2014, 3:05pm

#31 - You've brought up a number of interesting points.

- I love their romance as well. What struck me was the equality of their relationship. This isn't a story of a strong he-man protecting and rescuing a helpless female. When she need help, she turns to herself! I also wish there were going to be more books with Cordelia front and centre. She's a great character.

- I love Bothari and I think if I was Cordelia I would trust him. He has proven his absolute loyalty to her more than once, and I think this loyalty will now switch to Miles. Of course, if I wasn't Cordelia, I don't think I would ever trust him or be comfortable around him.

- I am looking forward to seeing how the young Emperor develops. Will he grow up to be a force for good or will something or someone turn him the other way. I think this type of society makes for a good read as there is always scope for color, ceremony and devious behavior!

Jan 10, 2014, 3:20pm

#32 – Thanks, Judy :)

I was going to say that I'd expect nothing less of a female author re: the helpless female, but that's unfortunately not true. But yes, I loved how competent Cordelia was, and how Aral's attempts to protect her in Barrayar utterly fail.

Re: Bothari, I meant that if I was myself :)

I'm hoping that Emperor Gregor will turn out fine, since he's essentially being raised by Cordelia and Aral. But who knows! I'm looking forward to see how it goes too, and what his relationship with Miles will be like.

Jan 10, 2014, 3:52pm

Finally some spoilers here! Not looking yet. :)

Jan 11, 2014, 3:34pm

My thoughts on the first installment:-

Shards of Honour by Lois McMaster Bujold

This was for the year long Group read of the Vorkosigan Saga in the Category Challenge (http://www.librarything.com/topic/160914). I have read 3 books in the series earlier, not in the chronological order though. This group read will be a time to make amends and with this hop I started with the first book in the series, one featuring Cordelia, mother of Miles, the protagonist in the latter parts of the series. We also meet another strong and fascinating character, Aral Vorkosigan, Miles's father, but it would be fair to say the book was more about Cordelia.

It would be difficult to define her characteristics, measure her with parameters, the character is so multi-faceted. She is a military woman, but the author has steered away from the temptation of making her a Wonder Woman. She is strong willed, smart and well, as others in the book would say, honourable. And yeah, she is not a love-sick teenager, but a mature middle aged woman, so is Aral (except the woman part!). She is also the one who with her smartness, resourcefulness and no small measure of luck, turns around difficult situations on their head, and supports Aral only like she could. I quite liked Aral Vorkosigan too, in all his military might, and yeah, he actually comes across more honourable than Cordelia even!

There is a war in the background and some really unpleasant incidents, but they all seem to be the setup for the Cordelia - Aral story. The author must again be applauded for exercising her good sense and not overdoing it with the romance part.

Needless to say, I will be starting with the next instalment, Barrayar, within a week.


Jan 11, 2014, 10:13pm

>31 kgodey:: You'd asked why I found Cordelia more compelling here. In the books I'd read from the later part of the series, she was a very minor character. There were references that suggested she had an extremely interesting backstory (which is proving to be true) but mostly, she seemed intimidating, at least from the point of views of certain characters. In Shards of Honor, she seemed very human. She showed a lot of strength but still had the foibles that many of us could identify with. Actually, Piyush describes quite well in the previous post why I liked Cordelia as a character so much.

Jan 12, 2014, 12:16am

#36: That makes sense. Mostly, I wanted to get a sense of how Cordelia was portrayed in the later books. I can definitely see how characters would be intimidated by her; I'm sure her no-nonsense attitude only improves with age.

Jan 12, 2014, 10:21am

>37 kgodey:: I started chronologically so never experienced what matchgirl40 describes, but I find Cordelia to be one of the most consistent characters in the series. I think Cordelia is mainly intimadating to other characters because she is always the voice of reason. She basically always speaks the hard truth (which is clearly one of the main things Aral loves about her).

The following contains spoilers for Shards of Honor:
I was a little surprised how analytical she was when she is almost raped after being captured. When I read that I thought she was almost too cool about it. Maybe because Bothari stopped it before it actually happened but I am not sure how many people would be able to separate Bothari's actions in the moment from Vorrutyer's. She was able to understand and forgive him before it even happened. Being analytical might be a defense mechanism for her which shows some amazing personal strength.

What did you think about Beta Colony's reaction to her return home? Sometimes I expect all of Beta Colony to be as collected as Cordelia, but she is clearly special even for there.

Jan 12, 2014, 2:17pm

#36 Hi Paulina, I agree, she does seem quite intimidating, doesn't she? If she were a real life character, I can easily see many people hating her for her strong mindedness and no nonsense attritude Kriti refers to, in Post #37.

#38 I am not so sure about the voice of reason part as I am of her speaking her mind and acting on her convictions; her reasoning could be wrong, she is human after all, but that doesn't stop her from doing what she thinks is right.

Jan 12, 2014, 2:27pm

#38: Yeah, and it's what we love about Cordelia too! :)

"Being analytical as a defense mechanism" is well said; that's exactly what Cordelia does. I think Cordelia herself says something about how she gets the craziest ideas but then always proceeds in the most practical way to make them reality.

Shards of Honor spoilers:

I find it easier to do bullet points sometimes, so I'll do that for my thoughts on her return to Beta Colony:

- I think it says something when the supposedly enlightened, emancipated, and progressive Betans can't fathom one of their own falling in love with someone they regard as "the enemy". You'd think that their credo of tolerance would extend even to things they didn't understand, but they jumped straight to the classic human "fear what you can't understand".

- That being said, I think that being collected/analytical/open-minded is something that Betans generally value, although Cordelia seems special in that she actually knows what it means to be all those things.

- I'm not sure if Bujold has much sympathy for psychology; I'm basing this on the Escobaran/Betan psychologists in Shards of Honor and also on the psychologist character in Falling Free. Or maybe she's just pointing out that psychology has its own set of assumptions about what humans can and can't deal with and may not work for people that are actually good at dealing with stuff.

- I'm hoping that Cordelia gets back to Beta Colony at some point and can introduce Aral to her family. At some point, her mother has to want her daughter back enough to accept that she chose Aral of her own free will!

Jan 13, 2014, 1:09pm

I am loving all this talk about Cordelia! She is an amazing character.

Here is the review from my thread.

Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold is the story of Captain Cordelia Naismith of Beta Colony and Captain Aral Vorkosigan of Barrayar. They are literally and figuratively from two different worlds. They meet on an uninhabited planet where Cordelia is commanding a survey team and Aral is on a secret mission.

It's instant attraction with these two but their personal feelings are pushed aside due to mutiny and political intrigue. In the end they come together.

As Judy (DeltaQueen50) said so well in her review, it is refreshing and wonderful that a romance between to mature adults is highlighted. I loved how Cordelia had her own thoughts and beliefs and although she respects Aral's she is not easily swayed into giving up her way of life for him. She gives up her world for him when she realizes that the scope of her beliefs has widened to include his and those in her world cannot cope with someone who doesn't abide by the party line.

It was a good novel but you can see it lacks some polish. The main complaint I have is If they thought on Beta that she was raped and brainwashed why on earth would they have a huge press conference for her! Especially, since she was so resistant to the psychologist probings in Escobar and on the trip back to Beta Colony. For an enlightened people they were comically ignorant in this regard. I hope this evolves as her story and writing do. All in all I would highly recommend this novel. It was quite entertaining.

Edited: Jan 13, 2014, 1:20pm

#41: Great review, Roberta! I'm also loving all the attention Cordelia is getting!

Re: your complaint, it was my understanding that the Betans thought that she was brainwashed after her reaction to the press conference; until then, I think they just thought her memories were suppressed. But in either case, it was stupid to have a press conference.

Jan 13, 2014, 1:52pm

Kriti - You are correct! Still, as you say, in bad taste.

Edited: Jan 15, 2014, 12:05am

Okay, I've read a couple of other books and I'm ready to come back and reread Barrayar. This is my cover:

Anyone want to take a guess a to what character this is? And where?

Jan 15, 2014, 12:32am

That weapon looks like the oft-mentioned swordstick, so maybe it's Kou? I have no guesses as to the location.

Jan 15, 2014, 12:37am

Nope, definitely a female character.

Jan 15, 2014, 10:19am

No red hair so not Cordelia. I think Drou is a blond so that would be my guess. As for the location...not sure. Based on plot I would guess the Emperor's residence. That's not suppose to be a replicator is it? I thought they could be carried.

Jan 15, 2014, 10:21am

I haven't started Barrayar yet but the outfit screams late 80s early 90s. She must have lifted it from one of the Jacksons. Her hair looks like a tribute to Flock of Seagulls. These covers slay me!

Now I must figure out how to make this cover into a purse.

Jan 15, 2014, 11:30pm

I used that cover of Barrayar as my entry in the TIOLI Ugly Cover Challenge. Definitely has that Jackson 5 - 1980's feel to it!

Jan 16, 2014, 7:32pm

The character is definitely Drou. The uniform appears to be the red and blue parade uniform of the military, described as "gaudy" (Ch. 3), but I'm not sure why Drou is wearing it. When she is guarding the Prince Gregor and his mother, not being able to wear a uniform like the men is a sore point, and if she gets to wear one later in the story, one would think it would be the Vorkosigan brown and silver. I don't remember now and haven't gotten that far yet. I know where she is but don't remember if she is actually there and so armed in the book--more would be spoilers at this point.

Jan 18, 2014, 9:12am

Definitely a bad cover. Did the artist read the book?

Edited: Jan 19, 2014, 12:29am

From my thread, upon completing Barrayar:

One of my favorite Vorkosigan books, I am glad to revisit it for the year-long Vorkosigan group read. We live very much in Cordelia's head in this book, in a tight third-person perspective, and I very much like and respect Cordelia. A lot happens in this story, both personal and political, but the personal leads us to CARE about the characters involved. And you'll never think about shopping bags in the same way again. I think I'm going to have to go straight into The Warrior's Apprentice at this point.

The cover, by the way, correctly places Drou in the same room as the uterine replicator and the swordstick, but the room is a bedroom, she is never in the military dress uniform and certainly wouldn't be in this time and place even if it were her regular uniform, and she isn't the one handling the swordstick. Other than that, the cover is completely accurate. (Wait until you see my cover for TWA!)

Where is everyone in the books here? I have 11 of us here, with some reading for the first time, some re-reading, and some just chiming in based on previous reads. Roberta, Paulina and Piyush have finished SOH. Kriti, Old Dan and Judy have finished Barrayar. Mary Ann, William and I, and perhaps Nina, have finished our rereads, and Ron (RBeffa) is chiming in from past experience. So discussion can be completely open about Shards of Honor, and if the first three can let us know when they are done with Barrayar, we can stop worrying about spoilers there. I love the points you all have been bringing up about Shards of Honor so far, but Barrayar is so much the richer book. Cordelia's musings on motherhood touch me to the core every time I read them.

Edited: Jan 19, 2014, 11:49am

My library didn't have Warrior's Apprentice but it did have Falling Free so picked that up this weekend. I'm in the middle of Outlander By Gil Adamson so will get back to Falling Free soon. By the way, I don't know how to put my name, etc., on the Wiki. Yes, I know I need to get around to adding my thread. Like Pa Kettle says, "I'll get around to it one of these days.".

Jan 19, 2014, 2:23pm

I am ready to start Young Miles soon. thought about reading it as soon as I finished Barrayar but decided to wait a couple of weeks.

Jan 19, 2014, 2:30pm

I'm going to try and read/re-read much of the Vorkosigan series. In order. I'll be getting a late start on Shards though (which I haven't read) and will catch up. There's too much I want to read this year! I'd really like to read some more of Iain Banks Culture series, another group read, as well as the American Authors challenge and the WWI Centenary read.

Jan 19, 2014, 4:04pm

>52 ronincats:: I'm planning to read Barrayar in February. Sorry I've been away for a few days but am catching up with discussions now and enjoying reading all your thoughts!

Edited: Jan 19, 2014, 6:14pm

Just finished up Shards of Honor - here is a copy of my review from my thread:

Seems to me the only difference between your friends and your enemies is how long they stand around chatting before they shoot you. - Cordelia Naismith

Captain Cordelia Naismith is sent to a remote planet as part of a survey team to study the flora and fauna of this new locale when her crew is unexpectedly attacked and all but obliterated. During the aftermath, she encounters a commander from the warring faction, Aral Vorkosigan, and they develop a "friendship" as they work together to save their collective hides. This is a story of serendipity as Vorkosigan and Naismith are continually drawn together via intergalactic happenstance.

One of the strengths of this book is the strong and incredibly likable female lead, Cordelia Naismith. Sure, she is lousy with honor as one could guess by the title, but more importantly she is a no BS woman who is able to think quick on her feet and can spit out a sarcastic retort without a moments hesitation. Strong and well written female characters are a rarity, especially in the sci-fi genre. I am looking forward to seeing what waits around the corner for Cordelia in Barrayar.


I concur with most of the comments that have already come up...

- The writing is a little rough at times, but as the action picked up I started to notice this less and less

- The press conference that is held post Cordelia's return from capture seems wildly inappropriate and out of place. Come on Betans! Really?

Jan 19, 2014, 7:26pm

My take on the press conference is that it is something organized by Steady Freddie's ("I didn't vote for him") PR people. In other words, neither the military nor the psychologists were consulted.

Glad you are in with us, JechtShot.

Jan 19, 2014, 11:18pm

I will be skipping a Vorkosigan read in February and picking it up again in March with The Warrior's Apprentice.

Jan 20, 2014, 1:51am

I've finished Shards of Honour and Barrayar (in the omnibus edition Cordelia's Honour). I was intending to come by and post my reviews - when I managed to get around to reviewing the second book.

The press conference was definitely inappropriate, but I think that was the point, because
a) that's politicians for you and
b) she needed a catalyst.

Jan 20, 2014, 2:37am

I'm here, reading all the posts even though I haven't had much to say yet. I love all the points people are bringing out. Unlike some people, I believe I may prefer Shards of Honor to Barrayar, probably because I love the gentle, wispy falling-in-love between Cordelia and Aral.

If I understood right, we don't need to worry about spoilers anymore for Shards of Honor, but just in case I'm wrong about that, I'll do the fun new 'alert' anyway. One of my favorite parts of Shards of Honor: Cordelia with the stunner watching Aral trying to convince his fellow countryman to not be a traitor after all. And she sees tears well up in the man's eyes as he regards Aral. She thinks, 'one doesn't weep for the living, only for the dead' and knows the man is going to try to kill Aral. So, she shoots him with the stunner.

What do you all think about Dubaur? Cordelia being Cordelia, has to keep him alive. I would too, I hope. That's certainly the kind of person I want to be. But is it right? That's the problem. Aral is not a heartless jerk with his opposing point of view.

Edited: Jan 20, 2014, 9:21am

Some people might join the Vorkosigan read a little later, and others might not be reading the books in strict order, so for now, it might be best to keep using the spoiler feature to hide spoilers. In any case, once we make a decision to allow spoilers, we should put a big warning at the beginning of the thread. I'll bring this up in the main thread.

Jan 20, 2014, 9:18am

Paulina I agree about the spoilers. At the top of the thread I asked that spoilers be clearly marked by the spoiler feature or in bold *spoiler*

Jan 20, 2014, 11:08am

>61 Merryann: Good call Merryann. Such a unique moment. Really highlights how insightful Cordelia can be.

Jan 25, 2014, 2:24am

I'm also chiming in based on previous reads. Based on Word of Author, "Can Cordelia return to Beta to visit her mother, or are the charges in Shards of Honor still out standing? (LMB) Some time between Shards of Honor and The Warrior's Apprentice, Cordelia's troubles with the Betan authorities got ironed out, but I don't know just when or how. (April 1995)"

>17 humouress: Reminds me around A Civil Campaign we hear about the nasty worm plague loose on Sergyar. Those parasite surveys are important to complete!

Jan 25, 2014, 10:39am

I was going to wait until February to start Barrayar but I just could not wait. I've got a few other books going too so I'm not rushing through it. I'll post back when I've finished.

Jan 26, 2014, 9:25pm

>65 quinaquisset:: I'd love to read more on Cordelia!

Feb 7, 2014, 3:48pm

I finally finished Barrayar. I haven't reviewed it yet but I loved it and Cordelia is awesome! The writing is light years ahead of Shards of Honor although I loved the story it was a awkward in places.

So much going on in the book. It will be interesting to see these characters when we head to Miles' stories.

Feb 8, 2014, 7:19pm

I started Shards of Honor a few days ago. Few things put me off more than spaceships and battles, but I dutifully marched forth... I'm now about 1/3 through, and kinda getting into it.

Feb 8, 2014, 8:16pm

Qebo - Stick with it. It does get going but there are a few squeamish parts. May I ask what put you off?

Feb 9, 2014, 1:17pm

69: Spaceships. Battles. Boooooring. And supposed to be exciting, which makes it worse.

Feb 9, 2014, 1:23pm

Oh I see! :D

Feb 9, 2014, 1:45pm

#71 Would you be relieved if I tell you, that spaceships or battles aren't the best part of Vorkosigan series? Think of them as the backdrop against which the characters display their awesomeness, first Cordelia, to some extent Aral and later Miles.

Feb 9, 2014, 2:22pm

73: This gives me hope, but there's an awful lot of backdrop. I'll definitely finish this book though.

Feb 9, 2014, 2:46pm

Aw shucks, this is NOTHING compared to the Honor Harrington books, where you have pages and pages devoted to the ship designs and the battle strategies and the losses...here the spaceship and the battle (which you never even see) are truly a backdrop for the characters, not the raisón d'etre.

Feb 9, 2014, 2:50pm

75: You underestimate the extent of my loathing... :-) I am appreciating the characters though. Maybe by the end I'll care enough to continue into the next book.

Feb 9, 2014, 4:12pm

#76 It becomes much more about the characters as the book progresses and Barrayar is really well written and character/plot driven. Minimum space talk.

Feb 10, 2014, 6:19pm

Sigh. And politics. I'm about halfway through. I'll finish, but I suspect this is a not-for-me sort of book.

Feb 10, 2014, 6:59pm

#78 Book 2 is all about politics. Sorry it didn't work for you. :-(

Feb 10, 2014, 8:52pm

#78 No politics either? Yeah, then this series is not for you, I am afraid politics forms a rather large part in the series.

Feb 10, 2014, 9:53pm

80: Real politics is bad enough but as a somewhat responsible citizen I have to pay some attention. Manufactured politics, not a requirement. Done. Read the Wikipedia summary to get the gist, speed read the rest of the book while watching the Olympics, moving on. :-)

Edited: Feb 13, 2014, 11:24pm

Well, I've gotten through Shards of Honor, Barrayar, and The Warrior's Apprentice. Oh, how I've missed these characters! Barrayar was the best, I think. Wonderful with the characters, especially Cordelia. And how Miles can string people along with a light-year long line of BS is truly impressive... it actually seems credible the way Bujold presents it.
Qebo, no offense, but if you don't care for this genre there's no need to be insulting about it.

Feb 13, 2014, 11:16pm

Grundlecat - I thought the reaction to her coming home was predictable for a paranoid bureaucracy... but then I was in the Army for six years… I laughed out loud! You reminded me a bit of Cordelia when you said that. :-)

Feb 13, 2014, 11:26pm

luvamystery65 - I think I deleted the post you were responding to since it was in response to something eons prior and didn't seem to make sense here at the end... I do greatly appreciate the compliment, however!!!

Feb 13, 2014, 11:41pm

Too bad--it sounds like it was a spot-on comment!

Feb 13, 2014, 11:42pm

Roni - It was!

Feb 13, 2014, 11:49pm

82: Qebo, no offense, but if you don't care for this genre there's no need to be insulting about it.
Um, wow. I’m distressed because there is so much appreciation of these books, and I don’t have the same reaction. I did not intend to insult either the books or you. I use group reads to expand my horizons. Sometimes I find that my horizons are best left where they are, for reasons that I realize are entirely idiosyncratic. I could, I suppose, exit in silence, and pretend that I never tried.

Edited: Feb 14, 2014, 12:07am

Qebo - I didn't take it as an insult to the books but rather that they are definitely not your cup of tea.

All opinions about the books, good, bad, ugly or funny are most welcome here!

Feb 14, 2014, 6:24am

I didn't find Katherine's (qebo) response as offensive either. It is just one of those genres she doesn't care about, and she expressed what she felt. Also, I don't see being a fan of the books as a precondition to posting here, or anywhere else on LT, unless the post is meant to offend, which is a totally different matter altogether and one that can probably be identified from miles away.

Grundlecat - you probably are an even bigger fan of Bujold and Vorkosigan than I am, and criticism of things dear to us can hurt, but knowing Katherine (qebo), I know that can never be her intention.

Feb 14, 2014, 7:18am

I'm also happy to hear all comments, positive or negative, about the Vorkosigan books. I'm glad you stopped in and gave the books a try, qebo, even if you concluded that they weren't for you.

I'm happy to see another strong endorsement of Barrayar, grundlecat. I've been dying to get to this, but I had a few other books to finish first. However, we are at the start of a long weekend in Ontario, and I'm taking Barrayar with me on vacation. :)

Feb 14, 2014, 10:18pm

Thanks all. Tone is so difficult on the internet.

Feb 15, 2014, 8:05pm

My apologies, all... the emphasized "boring" was what set me off... I'm sorry for being hypersensitive, qebo. I will try to avoid being too persnickety in the future.
Have a great weekend with Cordelia, mathgirl40!

Feb 15, 2014, 8:26pm

92: Yeah, I can see that. I emphasized because I’d noted in the previous post, then was asked to explain further. I’m not super verbal; paragraphs do not pour forth easily. Thing is, when other people describe these books, they emphasize other features, e.g. character development, but somehow the “backdrop” looms in my mind as I’m reading. I could’ve said “my eyes glaze over”, which is my personal reaction, rather than “boring”, which seems to apply an adjective to the book.

Feb 16, 2014, 12:44am

I Just finished up Barrayar this evening and I’m probably in the minority here, but I preferred Shards of Honor. Granted, Bujold’s writing is much improved, but too much of the book was spent in Cordelia’s head and for me the plot/action was lacking. The politics of Barrayar were discussed extensively, but I felt much of this was already covered in Shards. I do like the characters and writing well enough that I plan to continue on with the series. I am curious to see where the world will take the energetic young Miles in future books.

Feb 18, 2014, 3:41pm

I found two of the omnibuses on sale at our library sale last month which filled gaps in my Vor collection. The stars are coming into alignment I decided. Last night I finally started Shards of Honor and read over a quarter of it. I am really really enjoying it. I've read several of the Miles adventures but have never read Shards or Barrayar. I can't wait to get started on Shards again. What a fun book.

Feb 18, 2014, 4:15pm

Just chiming in because I will definitely be returning. Cordelia is one of my all time favorite female characters.

Feb 23, 2014, 4:33pm

Barrayar - Lois McMaster Bujold

This is the second book (chronologically) in the Vorkosigan Saga, the first being Shards of Honour, the book I started my year long Vorkosigan Saga read this.

I have elaborated enough on Cordelia's character in my previous review, in this (short) one, I will talk more about the book.

Cordelia takes off from the first book, doing all the things which endeared her to me and I am sure many other readers. She, then dons her Rambo outfit, and even in that she excels.

I was however disappointed that in her effort to flaunt Cordelia, Bujold made Aral too much of a side character - we don't see the non-Cordelia portions of the war at all! And I do mean, at all! The title of the book could well have been Cordelia in Barrayar.

There was enough space for the two to co-exist, Cordelia's adventures set in the background of Aral's manoeuvring of the war effort, with the contrast in their (supplementary) abilities would probably have made for much better reading in my opinion.


Feb 27, 2014, 10:33pm

I finished Barrayar a few days ago and loved it. Like many of you, I too noticed the improvement in Bujold's writing. Having read some of the later books first, I really enjoyed getting the back story for characters like Kou and Drou. I do agree with PiyushC that Aral's story could/should have been developed further. Does he play a larger part in other Vorkosigan novels?

It's been pointed out that there are a lot of politics in Barrayar, but to me, this is really a novel about family. I liked how Bujold explored the different familial relationships. There were certainly a good number of babies/toddlers in this novel!

Feb 28, 2014, 10:06pm

>97 PiyushC: - I think that Aral's semi-absence in Barrayar was a reflection of the realities he faced as the Regent - he was forced to be apart from Cordelia a great deal. Both Barrayar and Shards of Honor were told from Cordelia's viewpoint. She didn't see much of Aral, neither did we. It would be nice, however, if a subsequent volume could give us more of his point of view. I'd kill to know what he thought when she swaggered into that room with her special shopping bag...

Mar 1, 2014, 3:44pm

#98 Aral is referred to, as the greatest strategist of the century in the later works, for most of the things he supposed to have done in the Shards of Honor, Barrayar and a few other instances. Which is why it seems such a shame that while we know quite of the things he did in Shards of Honor, we know next to nothing of his contribution in Barrayar.

#99 While your argument has some merit, I can't accept it in totality, the book is written in third person after all. Also, Bujold seemed to have gotten over this difficulty in Shards of Honor by making Aral narrate his doings to Cordelia.

Mar 1, 2014, 4:02pm

I agree with Grundlecat that Lois was interested primarily in telling Cordelia's story in these two books. The books are written in third person, but with a tight focus on Cordelia's actions and thoughts. In the second book, Cordelia and Aral are no longer the only two people on a planet, and with Cordelia's lessened access to Aral comes the same for us.

Mar 1, 2014, 5:02pm

I felt that the focus was on Cordelia and more of Aral wasn't really necessary for me.

Mar 4, 2014, 5:48pm

>97 PiyushC: I loved that Barrayar was all about Cordelia and her internal dialogue was key for me to enjoy the story.

>100 PiyushC: the book is written in third person after all Yes, it was. Interesting, I am listening to the series on audio and it is narrated by a male. Cordelia was still fascinating even with Grover Gardner narrating. :-)

Mar 5, 2014, 3:01pm

>101 ronincats:
>102 hailelib:
>103 luvamystery65:
To each his own, I guess. It seems the things that bothered me, didn't bother others.

Mar 6, 2014, 4:58pm

My edition of Cordelia's Honor has an afterword by Bujold in which she says that Barrayar is her book about motherhood and her thoughts on it, so it makes sense that it's all about Cordelia.

Mar 6, 2014, 10:06pm

>105 kgodey: I didn't know that. It does make sense.

Mar 7, 2014, 2:23pm

And wouldn't it be nice to actually HAVE uterine replicators? Perfect environment for the child, proper nutrition and so forth... no worries about environment messing up the fetus's development... Maybe they could play it tapes of its parents' voices to get that effect as well.

Mar 7, 2014, 2:37pm

107: Yes, uterine replicators sound lovely! I kept thinking "I really wish these were real".

Edited: May 4, 2014, 2:23pm

Belatedly posting my review for Shards of Honour, which is a combination of this re-read and the last time I read it :

"Shards of Honour
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)


Um ... still haven't written my review for Barrayar ...

Jul 31, 2014, 8:29am

Well, now I have reviewed Barrayar (just a bit later on), here's the link to my review, if you're interested.


Jan 18, 2015, 5:57pm

Better late than never? I'm finally reading Barrayar and enjoying it. Only got about 70 pages in last night but I am struck with something - this one seems very much a woman's book. I've read about half a dozen of these LMB books and have always been aware there is a woman's sense to the storytelling, but this one strikes me as the strongest that way yet. I know that I have much more to come ahead, but just wanted to drop that comment in while I am really sensing it.

Jan 18, 2015, 9:16pm

>111 RBeffa: Always better late than never! I tend to agree with your assessment of this book, particularly as motherhood is a major theme in Barrayar. This is one of my favourites from the Vorkosigan series.

Jan 19, 2015, 7:29am

Barrayar is definitely a woman's story with a female POV. I love Cordelia's drive and determination. She will get around an object in very clever ways. Miles gets this from her. Of course I do love Sgt. Bothari in this book. You see a very different side to him.

I am up to Memory which has been my favorite so far. Barrayar runs a very close second.

Jan 19, 2015, 7:20pm

I'm on the home stretch with Barrayar and I should finish it up tonight before bed. Shards/Barrayar are a great combo. Favorite so far. I'll jump ahead to Cetaganda when I next return to the series soon (I hope) since I've read the intervening ones fairly recently.

>113 luvamystery65: Bothari was good in all his appearances but at his best here. One of my favorite characters in the series.

Good stuff.