Vorkosigan Saga

Discussion in 'Lois McMaster Bujold' started by Diziet Sma, Jan 9, 2018.

  1. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I have finished Shards of Honour and it has been a really enjoyable read. I have particularly liked Cordelia's voice. It is not easy to find current female characters who are not portrayed as badasses with a ├╝ber sexuality. I like her intelligence, witticism, bravery and sense of humour. Cordelia and Aral are two distinct genders who complement each other.
    The plot was exciting and promises great adventures ahead. The romance is pivotal to the story, but it is well balanced without becoming kitschy.

    Now, there are a couple of issues that bothered me a bit: firstly, the language. The dialogues felt formal, stiff even pompous at times. Besides, the tone was sometimes passionless, corsetted even in dire circumstances. It reminded me of some movies from the 50s, and I struggle to understand Bujold's intention considering she wrote SoH in 1986
    My other issue is the scarce background regarding the Betan and the Barrayan societies. It is implicit that they are born enemies. They seem to differ in technological advances, culture, ethics and even language. However, Cordelia seems to navigate swiftly without any problems during her social intercourse with the Barrayarans. Regardless of these two minor points, I'm looking forward to continuing sometime soon with Barrayar
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
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  2. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Exactly why I ended up liking Shards of Honor...because of Cordelia Naismith. I like her because she is not at all angst-ridden, she is neither jaded nor cynical, she has a sense of humour and perspective, she doesn't berate herself like other, supposedly 'deeper' characters, she is empathetic without being nauseatingly 'compassionate', she has intelligence, and she has a strong spiritual perspective of the universe. What a wonderfully mature and adult human being! And I also really like Aral Vorkosigan. Another proper adult. I think Cordelia is in her mid-30's and Aral is mid-40's?

    Regarding plot...as this was her first effort, it was fairly simple and only really introduced the setting, the political climate, some cultures, etc. I generally liked the interaction between Cordelia and the various Barrayans she comes into contact with, especially those under Aral Vorkosigan's command. You get the feeling that they like and respect her for all the reasons I mentioned (plus, she has tact, a very powerful weapon indeed). But most impressive for me was the short epilogue: it was written with tenderness and sensitivity, and the way it dealt with the deceased was very mature and respectful.

    I didn't get the impression that Beta and Barrayar are enemies. But they are on opposite political/social spectrums and consequently view each other with some measure of disdain or suspicion or both whilst maintaining diplomatic relations.

    But now you should suffer a little like I have and read The Warrior's Apprentice. It's the next published story and concerns the next generation - Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan's son. Most of the books revolve around him, I believe, yet I personally didn't find TWA to be a good introduction.
    Diziet Sma and Safari Bob like this.
  3. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Well, they are very much in the opposite poles of culture, ethics and social science. The Betan colony seems to be in alliance with other similar societies from other planets (e.g Escobar) in order to maintain some diplomatic pressure on Barrayar, while the barbarian Barrayarans keep their feudal society and warlike culture.
    At least, this is the impression I had from SoH.

    I'm going to follow @jo zebedee 's recommendation, which is Bujold's suggested reading order. So Barrayar is next!:p
    jo zebedee likes this.
  4. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Well-Known Member

    Barrayar gives a lot of background.

    Apparently Shards was originally Star Trek fan fic with Cordelia as a Star Fleet officer and Aral as a Klingon. That makes sense
  5. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Barrayar is a romance in its own right. We meet in a mysterious planet Barrayar with all its social-cultural idiosyncrasies. Besides, we have an adventurous, storyline where the focus is on a quest that involves bravery and strong values, not a love interest per se; Aral's and Cordelia's love does not need rescuing, in fact, their love is the platform that allows the adventure to catapult itself.
    If it weren't for the intelligent, witty and sarcastic dialogues, Barrayar could be another mediocre and predictable Space Opera story. However, the very well drawn characters along with their verbal punches keep this story from being everything but average.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018

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