Amber’s Goodreads review of Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga, #1)Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one was an unexpected charmer. I got it in a Humble eBook Bundle and I tell ya, I’m grabbing every single one of those that comes out. I’ve gotten several good books that I otherwise wouldn’t have thought to pick up. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of it, but it drew me in. It only took me two days to finish, aside from the short story at the end. I had a lot of free “sitting around between classes” time and so I devoured this.

Even the romance surprised me. Despite how Vorkosigan and Cordelia meet, it isn’t a “Beauty and the Beast” situation: his reputation as the “Butcher of Komarr” turns out to be largely exaggerated, and he turns out to be a pretty honorable man, so there’s no “taming this savage man” aspect that’s way overplayed. I admit that the first time Cordelia starts to think he’s kinda handsome, I rolled my eyes. “Stockholm Syndrome much?” I thought. “They’ll be banging in a couple chapters.” But that didn’t happen either. I tried explaining it to my husband later on, and he put it, “Oh, like a civilized, dinner-table wooing.” Honestly, that nails it. The relationship that builds up is definitely based on mutual respect and admiration, which is amazingly refreshing. I like a sex scene as much as the next gal, but you get some books where it’s just instant sexual attraction, given into pretty much right away, and unless you’re really in the mood for that… let’s just say that the slow seduction (not even really a seduction, in this case) is more satisfying to me. It just goes to show how things can be pigeonholed by genre: this was listed as a sci-fi. If the word “romance” appeared at all, I would have assumed it was a sheer sci-fi nightie draped over a sexy body (you know how they do with some romance novels, it’s like the plot is there to just barely justify the screwing. It’s hardcore porn wrapped in softcore porn. Can you tell I don’t dip into the Romance section much?).

Another original twist is how the honor-bound, battle-hardened, militaristic people were actually from a nice planet, while the more scientific and peaceful Betans were from a hellhole. The general trope is that the warrior race is “forged in the harsh conditions” of some wasteland desert planet with acid rain and active volcanoes, but Barrayar sounds pretty Earth-like and pleasant compared to Beta Colony.

While Cordelia is strong, witty, super-smart and capable, she has a pretty realistic PTSD thing going on after all the excitement. The interesting thing is that [SPOILER] it wasn’t caused by the trauma visited upon her when she was captured by the Barrayarans, but by the well-meant but invasive “therapy” forced upon her by the Escobar and the stress of keeping her and Vorkosigan’s secrets. The terrifying reception she gets back home on Beta Colony provided a perfect way to get her back with Vorkosigan, despite her loathing of the culture on Barrayar. [END SPOILER]

Overall I was impressed enough to download the next installment in the series, Barrayar. I’m not sure if I’ll read all 7 or so novels plus short stories that make up the “Vorkosiverse” (the rest after this mainly deal with Miles Vorkosigan, son of Cordelia and Aral) but I’m definitely intrigued enough to want to know what happens next for these two.

View all my reviews

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~ by Amber on January 17, 2014.

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