Commander Cordelia Naismith of the Betan Astronomical Survey team finds herself stranded on the surface of the latest planet she, and her team, were surveying for colonisation suitability. After an attack forced the majority of her colleagues to leave the planet to save their lives, she was left downside with a horribly injured companion, few supplies and one of the enemy who was apparently as stranded as she was. The Butcher of Komarr, Lord Aral Vorkosigan of Barrayar was a victim of Mutiny and betrayal that threatened the core of honour bound Barrayaran society and, as Commander Naismith realised, much more to him than met the eye. After rescue and escape, distrust from her own people, Cordelia throws her lot in with the enigmatic Vorkosigan who is not without troubles of his own. Can they do what must be done, with honour?
Cordelia’s Honor is actually 2 books – Shards of Honor and Barrayar that were published together to make a continuous story of the life of Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan. They run consecutively and to my mind make a great single volume. This is the first book by Lois McMaster Bujold I’ve read, and it definitely won’t be the last. By the end of the first chapter I was hooked, the flow of the story and the characterisations just superb. Sometimes sentence structure was a little complex but that smoothed out towards the middle. It didn’t detract from the story nor put me off continuing eagerly. It actually has so many facets to it, I can’t imagine there not being something in it for everyone. It’s a love story as well as a war story. It’s science fiction along with fantasy and the history side follows old russian society lines. The differences between Betan and Barrayan values is very distinct and Bujold’s writing manages to display both at the same time even in the same conversation. Cordelia is very urbane and can be amusingly sarcastic whereas Aral Vorkosigan is very military and can be almost rigid but also ironic. They bring out the best in each other and it’s great to see how they evolve from their original personalities to who they are by the end of the book. I don’t have the next in the series but I will be getting it as soon as I can!