The Start of a Beautiful Obsession – a review of Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Shards of Honor Lois McMaster BujoldShards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

The real unforgivable acts are committed by calm men in beautiful green silk rooms, who deal death wholesale, by the shipload, without lust, without anger, or desire, or any redeeming emotion to excuse them but cold fear of some pretended future.

But the crimes they hope to prevent in that future are imaginary. The ones they commit in the present – they are real.

Why I chose this book

While it’s true I wanted to branch out in this little project of mine and discover spec fiction sub-genres I ordinarily wouldn’t read, I also wanted to find female authors who write the kinds of stories that fit me like my favourite pajamas. The blurb for this book fit that description to a T. Adventure, romance, politics, things exploding, a kick ass female protagonist? Sign me up!

What it’s about

Shards of Honor is the first in the Vorkosigan Saga, an expansive space opera spanning over 25 novels and short stories, written by Lois McMaster Bujold. The trouble begins when Cordelia Naismith, leader of a survey team from a peaceful planet, is captured by Aral Vorkosigan–a man who is known to her people as “The Butcher of Komarr”–from the very warlike planet Barrayar. And the fun begins when the lines between enemy and friend begin to blur, and Cordelia finds herself in the middle of Barrayan power struggles and politics.

The Cover Blurb

The start of the Vorkosigan Saga. It was the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, with a secret agenda. Captain Cordelia Naismith of the Betan Expeditionary Force is captured by her enemy, Lord Vorkosigan of Barrayar.

My Thoughts

There is simply not enough to squee to describe how much I loved this book. Had I not already committed to this reading project I would now be three or four books into the series. I am, in a word, hooked.

I am a lover of characters. Give me compelling characters and I will overlook a multitude of literary sins. Give me compelling characters AND a tight plot, perfect pacing, thrilling action, Machiavellian politics, philosophical quandaries, electric romance, and killer flying vampire jellyfish? Oh baby, I’m a fan for life! Bujold does all that and more (no, I wasn’t kidding about the jellyfish).

Shards of Honor perfectly straddles that line between good old Raiders of the Lost Ark style adventure and the kind of ethical and moral conflicts that real life war has in spades. Equally impressive was the romance between Cordelia and Aral. These are two intelligent, strong-willed individuals and the author respects that. Despite an obvious initial attraction, neither character is ready to simply abandon their people, their principles, or their obligations for a little snogging. Kudos to Bujold for a masterful love story!

I could ramble for pages about everything that inspired reader love and author envy in this book but I want you to read it and I don’t want to spoil even one paragraph for you. (Let me know when you’re finished and we’ll talk.)

Finally, one of the most unexpected side benefits of this read was that I finally have a book to point to when asked what other novels Warpworld is similar to. No, I don’t put our tome in the same ranks as Shards of Honor, and we’re technically not space opera, but there are enough similarities in plot, character, and structure that I feel comfortable making the comparison. (Much better than my usual answer: “Umm, kind of like Dune, but not really. Sort of Hunger Games-ish, but not that either. Ummmm…”)

Will I read more by this author?

Are you kidding me?! (That’s a YES, by the way).

You should read this book if…

  • The words “space opera” make you want to drop whatever you’re doing and start reading.
  • You long for an adventure story with a solid dose of brainyness.
  • You’ve ever wondered how horrific a killer flying vampire jellyfish would be.
  • Stories with compelling characters, especially gutsy, clever, female protagonists are your thing.
  • You trust me and my excellent taste!

Where to find Shards of Honor on The Zon: Shards of honor

Up next: The Blind Pig by Elizabeth Dougherty

This entry was posted in Book reviews, Entertainment, On Scribbling, Warpworld and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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