Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book and Audio Review: Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Shards of Honor
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Publication: Blackstone Audio (May 21, 2009)
Length: 239 p.; 8 hours and 41 minutes

Description: When Cordelia Naismith and her survey crew are attacked by a renegade group from Barrayar, she is taken prisoner by Aral Vorkosigan, commander of the Barrayan ship that has been taken over by an ambitious and ruthless crew member. Aral and Cordelia survive countless mishaps while their mutual admiration and even stronger feelings emerge.

My Thoughts: SHARDS OF HONOR introduces Captain Cordelia Naismith of the Betan Survey and Captain Aral Vorkosigan of the Barrayaran military. They meet when Cordelia's survey team is exploring a newly discovered planet and stumble on the Barrayarans who had found it earlier and were using it as a staging ground for an attack on Escobar. 

Cordelia is from a planet that is technologically and scientifically advanced; Aran is from a planet that was only recently rediscovered when Cetaganda decided to conquer it and which had regressed to a sort of feudal state. He's from the privileged military caste. 

They get together after his crew has destroyed her crew's base camp and traitors of his crew tried to assassinate him. Her crew, except for now deceased Lieutenant Rosemont and injured Ensign Dubauer, managed to escape into space. His crew believes he is dead.

The two have to travel about 200 kilometers to a base he knows about where she can get medical attention for Dubauer and he can attempt to retake control of his own command. She gives her word of honor to cooperate in order to get care for Dubauer. As they travel, with very limited supplies (oatmeal and blue cheese dressing) and both with various injuries, they begin to get to know each other and come to respect each other and even fall in love. 

However, they both have loyalties that are doomed to pull them apart. She needs to get back to her own people to stop Barrayar's invasion while he is oath-sworn to conduct it. She is sent back as the Captain of a ship to provide a decoy in order to let advanced Betan weapons through to Escobar and is again captured. This time she falls in with people that Aral had earlier described as the scum of the service. She is slated for rape and torture by an old enemy of Aral's until she is saved by Sargeant Bothari, a useful madman she met during her first capture.

She is front and center for the invasion and soon comes to learn some of Barrayar's secrets that must be kept close. When the invasion fails (see Betan secret weapons), she is again repatriated. But this time both Escobaran and Betan psychiatrists are convinced that she has been programmed to act as some sort of agent for Barrayar when she resists their attempts at a therapy that would reveal Barrayarn secrets.

Cordelia manages to escape Beta and find her way to Barrayar when she finds an Aral whose heart has been broken by what his emperor demanded of him and who is diligently trying to drink himself to death. They marry and are hoping for a quiet life with children when Aral is tapped for a new impossible job - regent for five-year-old Emperor Gregor after his grandfather's death. 

The writing is amazing. The characters fully realized and intriguing. The story is filled with moral dilemmas and quests for honor and grace. I have read this book many times since its publication in 1986 but this is the first time that I have listened to the story. The narration was wonderfully done by Grover Gardner.

Favorite Quote:
She leaned against a tree, suddenly weak. And just when was it that you stopped being afraid of him and started being afraid for him? And why was this new fear so much more gut-wrenching than the first? You don't seem to have come out ahead on the trade, have you?
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. I have the first three in this series on audio. With your review, I look forward even more to getting to listen to them.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


I love getting comments. Let me know what you think.

This blog is now officially declared an Award Free zone! I do appreciate your kindness in thinking of me and I am humbled by your generosity.

Your comments are award enough for me. Comment away!