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I'd never read any of Lois McMaster Bujold's work before but was told that this is a science fiction author I'd probably like. Cordelia's Honor is an omnibus with Shards of Honor and Barrayar in it. They were published in the late 80's and are the prequels to Bujold's longer Miles Vorkosigan series.

The Premise: Cordelia Naismith is on a survey mission on a previously unexplored planet when suddenly she and her companion realize that their base camp is on fire. They rush back to see their survey ship flying off without them and one of the other members of their team dead. Cordelia realizes they've been ambushed by the Barrayarans, but not all of the enemy race is in accordance. She's stumbled into a mutiny in the ranks and soon is a well-treated hostage in the hands of Captain Aral Vorkosigan who has a stash of supplies hidden some distance away.

My Thoughts: I hadn't realized that Bujold's work had romantic elements although I was familiar with her name. This book reminded me a little of Linnea Sinclair's Finder's Keepers, because the two books feature a hero and heroine meet while stranded on a planet together and work as a team to survive. I like that situation -- throwing two different people together and seeing what happens :) . In this book, Naismith quickly realizes who Vorkosigan is -- also known as The Butcher of Komarr, who is reviled amongst the galaxy, and her academically-inclined world of Beta Colony, so of course, her initial reaction is not favorable, but as they warm to each other she finds out the real story behind his name and a romance soon blossoms. But their time alone together is interrupted by military skirmishes between their two planets as the Barrayarans make a bid for another planet's resources.

What I liked about this book was that the couple was a little bit older and neither Cordelia or Vorkosigan expected to find someone at that point in their lives. They had both been burned in some way by past relationships and had become accustomed to the idea of being alone for the rest of their lives when they happened to stumble on each other. I thought that their experiences and age meant the protagonists had a dignified air in their declarations and they were both aware of who they were and what others would think of their union. Cordelia is particularly practical about it, but at the same time, the depth of their feelings is not small and I really wanted them to have a happy ending.

I liked Cordelia's character. She has a calmness in the face of calamity that I enjoyed reading. It's Vorkosigan who first points it in the book, and afterwards I had to agree. Sometimes she surprised me with her quick thinking, and there is plenty of action going on in this book where she has to use it. Vorkosigan is likeable too but is less a focus. My impression is of an honorable military leader and member of the ruling class who is good at what he does and isn't always popular with the politicians in his homeland.

There was plenty of quiet moments between the hero and heroine, but then there are also military skirmishes, space flights, chases and escapes. It is full of action and moves forward without me feeling either bored or too flooded by action; there was an excellent balance which made the plot engrossing.  There is also some interesting ideas about politics and war and some grey areas like how perception may be skewed by expectations and prior beliefs, then compounded by limited knowledge of the truth. The science fiction aspects are also there in terms of medical advances, transportation, weapons and transportation, but it doesn't either overwhelm the reader. It's part of the setting and used in daily life, and as in our lives, some places are more technologically advanced than others.

Overall: Recommended for SFR fans. If all Bujold's books are like this, I think I've found another SFR author to glom onto. There's a perfect balance between action and character development that I like, and I plan to make my way through the rest of this omnibus and then onto the Miles Vorkosigan saga.

Buy: Amazon | Powells

Other reviews:
Jo Walton @ Tor.com (positive. She has a series of posts on this saga)
Guest review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (B)
Guest review at Dear Author (A)

Links:
Interview with Lois McMaster Bujold about writing the Vorkosigan Saga @ Tor.com
Danger Gal Friday: Captain Cordelia Naismith @ Lisa Paitz Spindler's blog
First sale story at Dear Author

Originally posted on janicu.vox.com

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
spiffikins
Dec. 19th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
so jealous of you - you get to read all the Vorkosigan books for the first time!

estara
Dec. 19th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
my exact same thought! And after that she can read the Chalion books and Sharing Knife for the first time *sigh*
janicu
Dec. 20th, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
OK then, you guys can help me: what comes chronologically after Barrayar?! I hear Bujold's published order isn't the same order as events take place in the world chronologically, and I'm having a hard time figuring it out..
estara
Dec. 20th, 2009 10:30 am (UTC)
Hmm, I have the original paperbacks and they all had a timeline included at the end of the books, so maybe those new duology-omnibuses don't? In any case here's her chronological timeline with all the side-stories included on her own site
http://www.dendarii.com/biblio.html#timeline
estara
Dec. 20th, 2009 10:33 am (UTC)
Ah, this is the form I remember from the books - it's on a fansite
http://www.dendarii.co.uk/FanFic/timeline.html
janicu
Dec. 20th, 2009 01:46 am (UTC)
:D Well apparently I have a huge hole in my book reading!
bella_lee
Dec. 19th, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC)
I've read Falling Free and The Warrior Apprentice and loved both of them. I'm definitely going to try and read the rest of the series in the new year. LMB is a great scifi writer from what I've seen so far.
janicu
Dec. 20th, 2009 01:47 am (UTC)
Yeah.. a lot of books to catch up on!
jmc_bks
Dec. 20th, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
Oh, I envy you the first reading of Bujold's backlist!

The chronological order of the Vorkosigan series is:

The Warrior's Apprentice
Mountains of Mourning (novella, available in various anthologies)
The Vor Game
Cetaganda
Labyrinth (novella)
Borders of Infinity (novella, also the title of anthology)
Brothers in Arms
Mirror Dance
Memory
Komarr
A Civil Campaign
Winterfair Gifts (novella, in romance anthology with other authors)
Diplomatic Immunity
Cryoburn (not yet published)

There are at least three anthologies or omnibus editions that include various novellas, including Miles, Mystery and Mayhem, Borders of Infinity, and Miles in Love. There's also a novella, Ethan of Athos set in the same world but without Miles.

Aral and/or Cordelia appear in each of the subsequent books to some degree, but the focus is on Miles.

If I had to pick a favorite character of Bujold's it would be Miles. But if I had to pick a single Bujold book as a favorite...it would be The Curse of Chalion. I have pimped it to at least a dozen people, and own one electronic copy and two more paper, in addition to having given away at least three more paper copies. I love it *that* much.
janicu
Dec. 20th, 2009 06:59 am (UTC)
Oh, you rock. Thank you, I now have a clue what book to get next!

I'm getting lots of comments from people wishing they were reading the series for the first time.. Suspect the series may be good, haha.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 20th, 2009 05:00 am (UTC)
Hmmmm ... reminded you of Finders Keepers, did it? :) Looks like I'll have to try it some time. I've got The Curse Of Chalion in the TBR so perhaps I should read that first. :)

Jace
http://jacescribbles.blogspot.com

P.S. don't know why the darn *OpenID* didn't work this time. *sigh*
janicu
Dec. 20th, 2009 07:01 am (UTC)
Yeah a bit just in the beginning. I think it's the whole "stuck on a planet and figuring out how to get to civilization together" thing, although it's approached quite differently from the two authors.

If the openid is a pain in the butt, try my wordpress. If that doesn't help.. yeah I dunno.. poo. Stupid LJ commenting issues..
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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