Tuesday, June 27, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Long Review after the Jump:

Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga is one of the longer running series in modern Science Fiction, featuring I think 17 books at the moment (in addition to other stories).  I actually read the last book written in the series (Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen) without having read any of the others and enjoyed it a bit, although I suspected I would enjoy it a lot more at the time had I actually had foreknowledge of the characters involved.  This book, Shards of Honor, is the first book in the series (second chronologically).  I definitely enjoyed this one a little more than Gentleman Jole, as this book clearly doesn't expect you to have any foreknowledge going in.

I listeded to Shards of Honor as an audiobook, as it appears one of my library's two ebook services, Hoopla Digital, carries the entire series in audiobook format.  The reader is pretty good, so I would recommend this format.

------------------------------Plot Summary------------------------------
In the distant future humanity has spread to many planets throughout the galaxy/universe.  Cordelia Naismith is a Scientific Survey Officer for Beta Colony, an egalitarian colony planet.  She is on a survey mission to a new planet when their camp is attacked, seemingly by the warrior people of the planet of Barrayar, which is essentially an enemy of Beta Colony.  Stranded on the Planet, Cordelia finds herself forced to team up with the Barrayaran Commander, Aral Vorkosigan, who has also been stranded by a gang of mutineers.

But this is only the start of the pair's adventures running into each other, and through their interactions, well, love will blossom.  Can the two of them manage to find a way to love each other while keeping their honor as members of their planet's military forces?  And can they keep their own sanities as their militaries require them to do potentially horrific dishonorable things?
Shards of Honor is short, the audiobook is only 8 hours long and the book is listed as under 300 pages, but for the most part is pretty great.  While the book is told entirely from Cordelia's point of view (in 3rd person), both Cordelia and Aral are great characters who it's easy to get to care about fairly quickly (An event that occurs about 1/3 the way through where some other characters through good intentions kind of screw over both of them resulted in me groaning in frustration for the two characters).  And the side characters are strong as well. And the romance works pretty well.

Really, my only complaints with this book is that for a book this short, the last 1/8 of the book is wrap-up material, which is kind of too long, and well, the book kind of skips a step in the final plot action taken by Cordelia and it's kind of weird (Non-Spoiler explanation: she ends one of the last chapters having escaped from one place to another place, but needs to get to a 3rd place.  The book then skips to her at the 3rd place without any explanation of how she got from place 2 to 3).

But I enjoyed this one a lot, and have already downloaded from my library the direct sequel, Barrayar.  Recommended.  

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