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Cordelia's Honor Mass Market Paperback – September 7, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 136 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Author

Author's Note:
The Vorkosigan Saga Reading Order Debate: The Chef Recommends
Many pixels have been expended debating the 'best' order in which to read what have come to be known as the Vorkosigan Books, the Vorkosiverse, the Miles books, and other names, since I neglected to supply the series with a label myself.  The debate now wrestles with some fourteen or so volumes and counting, and mainly revolves around publication order versus internal-chronological order.  I favor internal chronological, with a few caveats.
I have always resisted numbering my volumes; partly because, in the early days, I thought the books were distinct enough; latterly because if I ever decided to drop in a prequel somewhere (which in fact I did most lately with Captain Vorpatril's Alliance) it would upwhack the numbering system.  Nevertheless, the books and stories do have a chronological order, if not a strict one.
It was always my intention to write each book as a stand-alone so that the reader could theoretically jump in anywhere, yes, with that book that's in your hand right now, don't put it back on the shelf!  While still somewhat true, as the series developed it acquired a number of sub-arcs, closely related tales that were richer for each other.  I will list the sub-arcs, and then the books, and then the caveats.
Shards of Honor and Barrayar.  The first two books in the series proper, they detail the adventures of Cordelia Naismith of Beta Colony and Aral Vorkosigan of Barrayar.  Shards was my very first novel ever; Barrayar was actually my eighth, but continues the tale the next day after the end of Shards.  For readers who want to be sure of beginning at the beginning, or who are very spoiler-sensitive, start with these two.
The Warrior's Apprentice and The Vor Game (with, perhaps, the novella "The Mountains of Mourning" tucked in between.)  The Warrior's Apprentice introduces the character who became the series' linchpin, Miles Vorkosigan; the first book tells how he created a space mercenary fleet by accident; the second how he fixed his mistakes from the first round. Space opera and military-esque adventure (and a number of other things one can best discover for oneself), The Warrior's Apprentice makes another good place to jump into the series for readers who prefer a young male protagonist.
After that: Brothers in Arms should be read before Mirror Dance, and both, ideally, before Memory.
Komarr makes another good alternate entry point for the series, picking up Miles's second career at its start.  It should be read before A Civil Campaign.
Borders of Infinity, a collection of three of the five currently extant novellas, makes a good Miles Vorkosigan early-adventure sampler platter, I always thought, for readers who don't want to commit themselves to length.  (But it may make more sense if read after The Warrior's Apprentice.)  Take care not to confuse the collection-as-a-whole with its title story, "The Borders of Infinity".
Falling Free takes place 200 years earlier in the timeline and does not share settings or characters with the main body of the series.  Most readers recommend picking up this story later. It should likely be read before Diplomatic Immunity, however, which revisits the "quaddies", a bioengineered race of free fall dwellers, in Miles's time.
The novels in the internal-chronological list below appear in italics; the novellas (officially defined as a story between 17,500 words and 40,000 words, though mine usually run 20k - 30k words) in quote marks.
Falling Free
Shards of Honor
The Warrior's Apprentice
"The Mountains of Mourning"
The Vor Game
Ethan of Athos
Borders of Infinity
"The Borders of Infinity"
Brothers in Arms
Mirror Dance
A Civil Campaign
"Winterfair Gifts"
Diplomatic Immunity
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance  (upcoming in late 2012)
The novella "Weatherman" is an out-take from the beginning of the novel The Vor Game.  If you already have The Vor Game, you likely don't need this.
The original 'novel' Borders of Infinity was a fix-up collection containing the three novellas "The Mountains of Mourning", "Labyrinth", and "The Borders of Infinity", together with a frame story to tie the pieces together. Again, beware duplication.  The frame story does not stand alone, and generally is of interest only to completists.
The Fantasy Novels
My fantasy novels are a bit easier to order.  Easiest of all is The Spirit Ring, which is a stand-alone, or aquel, as some wag once dubbed books that for some obscure reason failed to spawn a subsequent series.  Next easiest are the four volumes of The Sharing Knife--in order, Beguilement, Legacy, Passage, and Horizon--which I broke down and actually numbered, as this was one continuous tale divided into non-wrist-breaking chunks.
What have come to be called the Chalion books, after the setting of its first two volumes, were also written, like the Vorkosigan books, to be stand-alones as part of a larger whole, and can in theory be read in any order.  (The third book actually takes place a few hundred years prior to the more closely connected first two.)  Some readers think the world-building is easier to assimilate when the books are read in publication order, and the second volume certainly contains spoilers for the first (but not the third.)  In any case, the publication order is:
The Curse of Chalion
Paladin of Souls
The Hallowed Hunt
Happy reading!
-- Lois McMaster Bujold.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 596 pages
  • Publisher: Baen (September 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671578286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671578282
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Series fiction has requirements very different from the single novel, or even multiple books forming one long story such as Tolkien's Ring Trilogy. The multi-book single storyline can be - probably is - so self-referential you have to read every book in the series, in order, to understand what's happening in later books. But the author of a true open-ended series like Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan novels knows readers may start with any book in the series, and read them in utterly random order. Thus, while each book must build on, and ideally add to and enrich what's come before, it must also be self-contained and not require having read any other book in the series to enjoy. Bujold has always been aware of this, thus for new readers interested in her tales of Miles Vorkosigan, it's not really necessary to begin with Cordelia's Honor. On the other hand, if you are a brand-new reader to this series, why NOT start at the beginning?

The two novels contained in Cordelia's Honor (Shards of Honor and Barrayar) form the beginning of the Miles Vorkosigan series. (Bujold's novel Falling Free takes place within the same fictional universe but, being set approximately 200 years before Miles' birth, features none of the series' familiar characters. Eventually you'll want to read Falling Free, but it doesn't matter when; you can insert it into your Bujold reading experience anytime.) These two books have an interesting history. Shards of Honor is Bujold's first novel (not merely the first novel she ever sold, but the first she ever wrote, thus disproving the axiom, "All first novels are unsaleable trash"). She begins writing it in December 1982.
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CORDELIA'S HONOR is a compilation of two of Bujold's novels: SHARDS OF HONOR and BARRAYAR. The main character in both is Cordelia Naismith. These are wonderful books, although I thought BARRAYAR is the better written of the two.
I suspect, however, that the person who wrote the above "synopsis" did not read this book at all. Cordelia is not forced into marriage, he is not her arch-enemy, and her husband is made Regent for the young Emperor, who is 5 years old.
If you have not read Lois McMaster Bujold, and you enjoy well-written, thoughtful novels with good characterizations and well-thought-out plots the READ this book. I envy you the opportunity to read her books for the first time.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book before I even knew of Bujold or the Miles Universe. Despite the cheesy old cover, I pressed on and discovered a treasure of an epic space saga. Cordelia's Honor is actually two books: Shards of Honor and Barrayar. This is a novel for the space opera fan and those who appreciate skillful writing. Bujold's talent leans more on the character driven side rather than the scientific side (a la Star Wars). You will be introduced to galaxy spanning human colonies, namely: Beta and Barrayar. These two worlds collide via the Betan captain - Cordelia - a liberated, headstrong female captain of an expeditionary science ship and Aral - the so called Butcher and warlord from the monarchical Barrayar. Forced to surive together in a remote world, they discover each other's humanity after bridging the gap between their worlds that seemed so violently different because of xenophobia and ignorance. Bujold's intelligent characterization evoke pity and terror in a remarkable tightly woven tale - and its her first published book!
In Barrayar, Aral marries Cordelia despite his world's disapproval and she learns to deal with the patriarchal society despite her liberated upbringing on Beta Colony. This is where it most reminds of me of Star Wars: monarchies, corrupt leaders, and political intrigue. The action sequences are smart and suspenseful. In both books there's a whole slew of supporting characters and none of them are two dimensional. At the end is a spinoff to the Miles Universe and you will learn how he was born with his deformity and will get a whole 8 (?) more novels that are just as good as this one.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Cordelia's Honor" contains two earlier published books, "Shards of Honor," and "Barrayar," which are the second and third stories in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga. Together, they tell the story of Cordelia Naismith, a survey officer from civilized, polite Beta. In "Shards of Honor," her crew was killed, and she was taken prisoner by Aral Vorkosigan, "The Butcher of Komarr." When she was released, and then recaptured in a later conflict, Vorkosigan rescued her and proposed to her, and she married him.
The second half of "Cordelia's Honor," "Barrayar" (which won the Hugo Award), is the story of the incredible effect Cordelia had on Vorkosigan's warrior planet, Barrayar, and how she stopped the civil war that threatened to slag down the planet. The heir she bore Vorkosigan was twisted and deformed from an assassination attempt during pregnancy. This son, Miles, Lord Vorkosigan, is the hero of the following nine books (so far) of the Vorkosigan Saga. I am very fond of David Drake's and S. M. Stirling's SF realistic war stories. Lois McMaster Bujold's "Barrayar" and the Vorkosigan Saga stories are Drake's and Stirling's equal. Very highly recommended.
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