From the Author
A Bujold Reading-Order Guide
My fantasy novels are not hard 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 were called the Chalion books after the setting of its first two volumes, but which now that the geographic scope has widened I'm dubbing the World of the Five Gods, were written to be stand-alones as part of a larger whole, and can in theory be read in any order. 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
In terms of internal world chronology, The Hallowed Hunt would fall first, the Penric novellas perhaps a hundred and fifty years later, and The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls would follow a century or so after that.
The Penric & Desdemona novellas run:
"Penric and the Shaman"
"Mira's Last Dance"
"The Prisoner of Limnos"
Other Original E-books
The short story collection ProtoZoa contains five very early tales--three (1980s) contemporary fantasy, two science fiction--all previously published but not in this handy format. The novelette "Dreamweaver's Dilemma" may be of interest to Vorkosigan completists, as it is the first story in which that proto-universe began, mentioning Beta Colony but before Barrayar was even thought of.
Sidelines:Talks and Essays is just what it says on the tin--a collection of three decades of my nonfiction writings, including convention speeches, essays,travelogues, introductions, and some less formal pieces. I hope it will prove an interesting companion piece to my fiction.
The Vorkosigan Stories
Many pixels have been expended debating the 'best' order in which to read what have come to be known as the Vorkosigan Books (or Saga), the Vorkosiverse, the Miles books, and other names. The debate mainly revolves around publication order versus internal-chronological order. I favor internal chronological, with a few adjustments.
It was always my intention to write each book as a stand-alone, so that the reader could theoretically jump in anywhere. 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 duplication warnings. (My publishing history has been complex.) And then the publication order, for those who want it.
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 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 /45,000 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
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen
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 to tie the pieces together. Again, beware duplication. The frame story does not stand alone.
This is also the order in which the works were written, apart from a couple of the novellas, but is not identical to the internal-chronological. It goes:
Shards of Honor (June 1986)
The Warrior's Apprentice (August 1986)
Ethan of Athos (December1986)
Falling Free (April1988)
Brothers in Arms (January 1989)
Borders of Infinity (October 1989)
The Vor Game (September1990)
Mirror Dance(March 1994)
A Civil Campaign (September 1999).
Diplomatic Immunity (May 2002)
"Winterfair Gifts" (February 2004)
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (November 2012)
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (February 2016)
. . . Thirty years fitted on a page. Huh.
-- Lois McMaster Bujold