4.5 StarsCordelia's Honor
is a fascinating novel, or rather a fascinating omnibus, having been split down the middle. Well not the precise middle but that middle we mortals all mean when we say middle. The middle that's a little to the left. However either way this novel was split into two novels, a sort of conjunctive novel, and as such I will discuss my reaction to the two different stories.Shards of Honor
This novel flings its readers directly into the action, causing the two romantic interests of this space opera to be flung together quickly and decisively. Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith are two intriguing characters, however their romance proved to be unbelievable (a little fast paced and rushed). It was a bunch of teasing, flirting and then suddenly they were in love? I didn't really buy it that much. In fact the major problem that prevented me liking this book as much as I could was the pacing. At times it was too quick, at times it was too slow. I did like the plot - which involved a war between two cultures in space and, of course the romantic elements, and some close calls where some very gruesome things almost happened to Cordelia. But it was all okay because this is a fictional novel and nothing bad happens to characters in fiction right (unless you're G.R.R Martin or Cormac McCarthy - nothing but bad seems to happen to you then).Barrayar
It was easy to see why Barrayar
is the winner of a Hugo for best sci-fi of the year. As science fiction goes this was magnificent. It had the science fictional gadgets, it had the characters, it had the setting, it had conflict and it had political intrigue. The speed of the plot was far more even and the character interactions and romantic angles more levelled and believable. As for the plot, well this novel focused on the culture shock experienced by Cordelia in a different world as well as a power vacuum created by the loss of a ruler. As such a kind of 'game of thrones' begins (without so many character deaths as G.R.R Martin) and Cordelia proves why she is one of the strong women of fiction. The relationships between characters in this novel were perhaps the highlight for me. I loved Kou and Drou, I found Aral and Cordelia to be one of the best relationships in fiction, not just science fiction, and I loved the complexity of Bothari as a character. He's the insane character kept in check by meds (and the strength of Cordelia's personality).
Ultimately this is an omnibus that must be read by all sci-fi fans. I particularly encourage the first novel for space opera and romance lovers and I particularly encourage the second for anyone who just loves a good sci-fi read. It certainly is one of the best character driven sci-fi novels I've read and I will read more of the Vorkosigan Saga.