|Submitted by Archren |
(Jun 17, 2006)
Cordelia is the unlikely hero of “Shards of Honor.” Taken prisoner after a Barrayan raid on the planet she was scouting, she falls in love with her “captor,” a Barrayan captain named Vorkosigan (not *that* Vorkosigan) who had been more or less shot in the back by his comrades. Part of their strong mutual attraction stems from their commitment to honor and duty, and their respect for each other is not dimmed when she escapes back to her own territory. After a declared hostile war between their two nations and several unlikely coincidences, they finally can have a kiss and live happily ever after. At least until the sequel (“Barrayar”), which I’m looking forward to getting.
In addition to that main story, there is political maneuvering and space adventure. It’s a space opera with a romantic core, played out by people who would otherwise seem to be anti-romantics. In fact, one of her comrades insists Cordelia’s story must be false, since who could imagine a middle-aged middle-ranked woman becoming the love of an enemy commander’s life? Too improbable for words, yet Bujold completely sells it.
There is a lovely theme running through this of “common wisdom” being wrong. Most people think that Vorkosigan is a bloodthirsty killer, which is in no way true. Other Barrayans committed acts that went against his promises. They come to believe that Cordelia must have suffered intensely at the hands of such a horrible man, and when she protests, they simply assume that she must be “repressing” the trauma.
The story is told with lovely prose, and great pace, and a good sense of humor. Cordelia is the sort of rock-solid, competent and sympathetic heroine that is a lot of fun to read about. The only false note is to wonder why exactly she is still in the middle ranks when she acts like a born commander. Also, don’t think too hard about the coincidences needed to get Cordelia and her soul mate together. Just enjoy the ride.