- 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: 137 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cordelia's Honor Mass Market Paperback – September 7, 1999
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From the Author
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.
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
A Civil Campaign
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
-- Lois McMaster Bujold.
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It contains two complete novels:
'Shards of Honor' is almost like reading a fanfiction novel of the Vorkosigan universe. It's Lois Bujold's FIRST novel, and it has huge structural flaws that show deeply within it. However, it has loads of important details on the back stories of Cordelia, Lord Aral Vorkosigan, and Sergeant Bothari that will help you appreciate what you've read in 'Young Miles.' It also helps to characterize Cordelia, which will help you understand her when you're reading 'Barrayar,' the second novel in this omnibus. Get through 'Shards of Honor' as fast as you can, but don't skip it, either. Trust me; when you get to Barrayar, things will get much better. 'Shards of Honor' is the only reason I didn't give this five stars.
'Barrayar' is a fantastic book where a strong female character plays a critical role in some serious space opera regency intrigue. There's a plot to destabilize an Empire, assassination attempts, and a structure and writing style that are just a pleasure to read. It's great, and you'll have lots of fun. It's almost as if 'Barrayar' is Lois Bujold showing Frank Herbert how you REALLY write space feudalism. It's diverting, escapist adventure with just the right dose of maturity to make it great.
These novels are much more about the characters and how they handle life than about science fiction. The characters are among the most believable I've encountered in any literature. Note that the characters are also exceptional people - way above the norm in intelligence and character. Which, I think, makes their "realness" even more impressive.
I rarely read a book twice. I've read this series twice in the last 6 years and I'm about to start again.
I read one review that said of Bujold and this series: "She makes me laugh, she makes me cry". I agree totally; get out the hanky at times, burst out laughing at times, also bite nails at times. But I would add to that something unique in my reading of fiction: I finish them wanting to be a better person. Her main characters have so much integrity they are inspirational. Further, when one of the characters says something that is supposed to be wise, it is. E.g., Cordelia says of her unafraid young companion in a very dangerous situation: "He was too young to realize there is death after life".
One specifc on this particular book: If the climatic scene in Barrayar (second part of Cordelia's Honor) doesn't raise the hairs on the back of your neck, call 911 before it's too late.
Backrgound: I read widely, fiction, non-fiction. I've worked through many classics, e.g.,enjoyed "Portrait of an Artist" by James Joyce before I knew his reputation. I've read and loved Sci-Fi since high school (a long time ago).
Shards of Honor: This book tells about how two really capable people met, fell in love, "fought" on oposite sides of a war, and handled the end of the war. As is obvious from the title, honor and doing one's duty is high in the theme of the book. But it also includes a lot of humor, pathos, struggle, etc. You will begin to really like the characters in these stories.
Barrayar: The couple, now married and pregnant, have assumed the job of being regents for the planet's child emperor. The child's emperor's vulnerability tempts a rebellion which must be overcome.
Bujold has created fictional characters I care about. If only they were real I would dearly love to move in with them and be part of their family. In spite of their faults, or more often because of them, their accomplishments approach super-human -- as they fall on their faces.
Though most all of the story in both books included in this volume is really engaging, let me summarize with this: near the end of Barrayar, stoic me both leaked actual tears then laughed out loud while reading a single page.
These, followed by "Warrior's Apprentice," and the rest of Bujold's books are now my 1st choice to recommend to anyone. Shards of Honor and Barrayar are chronologically 1st and 2nd in the lives of the characters. Feel free to read Warrior's Apprentice first if you choose.
Most recent customer reviews
I went back and read this chronological beginning of the Vorkosigan series after reading the first two books where Miles Vorkosigan...Read more