Shards of Honor Book Review (2020)

Lois McMaster Bujold was born on the 2nd of November, 1949, in Columbus, Ohio, United States of America. Bujold is an exceptional American authoress, primarily in the speculative fiction and science fiction genres, but her fantasy work is also top-notch. In the genres that Lois dabbles, she is often praised as one of the greatest of her time.

Bujold’s Upbringing

Lois McMaster Bujold, as we mentioned, was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, US. Her father is Robert Charles McMaster, who was the editor of the Nondestructive Testing Handbook. The experience that Bujold had growing up with a father who is held in such high regard is frequently present in her own novels.

Though this condition is often referred to as ‘Great Man’s Son Syndrome’, Lois challenges the title and shows that a daughter has the same ability as any son. The interest and passion for science fiction writing are, in the words of Bujold, inspiration from her father, and his powerful impact on Bujold.

The Accolades That Bujold Has Received

Lois McMaster Bujold was the recipient of the Hugo Award for best novel on four separate occasions, with which she matched the record of Robert A. Heinlein. She has also won various other rewards like the Nebula Award, the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, the Skylark Award, the Forry Award for Lifetime Achievement, and she was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for best novel of 2002. You can also find her name on our list of the best science fiction romance books.

With these particulars surrounding Bujold’s life covered, we can now take a look at our book review.

Shards of Honor Book

Authoress Lois McMaster Bujold’s super novel Shards of Honor is also one of her greatest successes, and to think that it’s her first attempt at a full-length work. It is the first novel, by date of publication, though not story-wise chronology, of her Vorkosigan Saga series. The Vorkosigan series is comprised of sixteen primary books, and plenty of tie-in novels between the individual entries. Shards of Honor book was first published in the year of 1986.

The novel is centered around the protagonist named Cordelia Naismith. Cordelia Naismith is the commander for the Beta Colonial Astronomical Survey, BCAS for short. Cordelia, as it turns out, is in quite the trouble as the Barrayaran soldiers are suddenly attacking the survey mission she is leading, and one of her group is killed by the attack.

The aim of the mission was to craft a map for the heretofore obscure or unknown planets of the region. This reason for the attack, as Cordelia learns not long after, was to keep them away from the place where they were heading as it was to be utilized as means for an invasion of the Escobar planet for the Empire’s policy of Expansion. For more similar books, take a look at our review of the best science fiction books series ever.

Can Cordelia Survive the Ambush Unscathed?

The rest somehow find a way to elude being on the receiving end of a disastrous assailment, however, Cordelia along with a crew member, who’d been injured in the proceeding attack, are taken captive by a solitary Barrayaran warrior.

It doesn’t take long for Cordelia and her crewmate to learn that the Barrayaran that is their captor is actually the man of legends, Lord or Count Aral Vorkosigan, also known as the Butcher of Komarr. As it turns out, during the ensuing chaos when the attack was being carried out, someone of his very own team attempted to kill Aral Vorkosigan.

As they have no other sane or reasonable recourse, the trio have found themselves stranded on a hitherto untrod planet, decide to come together and work in unison to survive. For now, all that Aral thinks they can do is lie low and try to get to his Barrayaran base.

In the meantime, Cordelia and Aral don’t have the easiest of roads ahead. For one, the crewmate that Cordelia is taking care of is a man that has been deeply wounded. As it turns out, the attack succeeded in dealing a nigh-insurmountable wound to him, as he is now neurologically compromised. In front of them is an expanse of about one-hundred-and-twenty-five miles.

What’s more is the fact that where they are going is towards the same people that attempted to take their lives only a short while ago. Cordelia and Aral begin to form a relationship, though it was founded upon an unlikely truce because of their being of two distinctly different worlds – ones that are in war with one another –, and the romance is a potent one, truly.

The Novel’s Substratum

The issues that Bujold deals over the course of the novel are of a timeless character, but also very much in regard to the time of the novel’s publication. Where do we draw the line between patriotism and just willingly walking towards your death? Why is it that a nation’s symbol merits putting one’s life on the line, and, even more importantly, why does it merit the intentional genocide of a differing people?

Even more potent are her musings upon what honor is and what it entails. And, of course, does exist a way, a sacrifice, for instance, that can be taken so as to stop the unremitting killing and slaying?

This space opera is one that drives the reader to think deeply, to fall in love with the touching, troubled romance that is presented, but also to enjoy the adventure. We surely know that our book review of Shards of Honor brought us enjoyment while doing it. We loved it so much, that we included it in our selection of the best space opera books. Make sure to check it out!

What We Recommend Next

The rest of the Vorkosigan Saga series is one that should definitely be read if this book sparked an interest in their story. On the other hand, World of the Five Gods series is a brilliant series to try of Bujold’s!

Author

Alissa Wynn

Alissa Wynn

Alissa is an avid reader, blogger, and wannabe writer. (She's a much better cook than a writer actually). Alissa is married, has one human, one feline, and two canine kids. She always looks a mess and never meets a deadline.