Vorkosigan Saga #3: Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Read: 4 October, 2017

This is my first full-length Vorkosigan novel (Falling Free not counting as there are no character cross-overs, as far as I can tell), and it’s exactly what I was expecting: Great.

There’s an odd flippancy to Bujold’s characters. They don’t have that lofty, quasi-archaic, a little too serious speech that genre fiction characters have. Nor do they have the immature, overly casual speech that the other major portion of genre fiction characters have. Instead, they hit the sweet spot – sounding like the middle aged veterans that they are, but also capable of being casual when appropriate.

Having accidentally peeked ahead with “Mountains of Mourning”, it was interesting to return to some of the events and characters that had been alluded to – namely, Aral’s regency. I also got a very difference sense of Aral and Cordelia, who I had pictured as more the Leto and Jessica types. But while he is very stoic and she is incredibly clever, their tone and bond is much different from Herbert’s characters.

I go back and forth on how I feel about the speedy romance. On the one hand, I think we get far too much of that kind of romantic love in our media (even if it’s the kind I most identify with). On the other hand, it works for these characters. It’s clear what they are attracted to in each other, rather than simply being slaves to the author’s machinations.

The last thing I want to touch on is something I’ve noticed in Bujold’s other works – the care she takes with the reality of Big Events. The war for Escobar doesn’t just end when the action ends. Instead, the final scene of the book is given to a corpse recovery and identification team, combing over the wreckage of a ship and trying to construct a narrative for each of the people they find. It’s short, but it’s a loving tribute to the realities of the sorts of big conflicts with which we are so often entertained. It’s a fitting end, and a good way to ground a story that could have lent itself to misinterpretation.

I’m absolutely in love with this author, and endlessly grateful to the people who brought her up so much that I was compelled to give her a try.

Read more in the Vorkosigan Saga series:

  1. “Dreamweaver’s Dilemma”
  2. Falling Free
  3. Shards of Honour
  4. Barrayar
  5. The Warrior’s Apprentice
  6. “The Mountains of Mourning”
  7. The Vor Game
  8. Cetaganda
  9. Ethan of Athos
  10. “Labyrinth”
  11. Brothers in Arms
  12. The Borders of Infinity
  13. Mirror Dance
  14. Memory
  15. Komarr
  16. A Civil Campaign
  17. “Winterfair Gifts”
  18. Diplomatic Immunity
  19. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance
  20. CryoBurn
  21. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

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