Surprise, surprise. My first book post-Summer Reading is a Vorkosigan.
But y’all: I missed these characters while I was away (reading amazing things, don’t get me wrong). So I happily found my way back to them quickly.
Barrayar picks up shortly after Shards of Honor left off and follows… Ugh SPOILERS. If you’re worried about spoilers for parts of the Vorkosigan saga, get out now. I’ll keep ‘em to a minimum, but I can’t keep this review completely free of spoilers for parts of the series. Particularly Shards.
I’ll wait while you make your decision…
Okay. Since you’re still here, I’m assuming you’re okay with having at least minor details spoiled for you.
Now, where was I? Right. Barrayar picks up shortly after Shards of Honor and follows Aral and Cordelia Vorkosigan through figuring out marriage, figuring out pregnancy, and figuring out Aral’s new position in the Barrayaran government. This work is typical Bujold in all the best ways: mystery, sabotage, politics, emotion, and humor, all wrapped up in a highly accessible piece of science fiction.
We get to see more of Cordelia, which is amazing. Such a great, intense, well-rounded character. I’m excited to jump back to where I was in the timeline and read Brothers in Arms soon. Hopefully she makes an appearance in that (and/or the subsequent books) because now that I know more about her character, older Cordelia’s actions and thoughts have so much more depth to them.
Oh, and Aral… I never thought he was swoon-worthy until these earlier books. But he is. He SO is.
Ivan, Elena, Gregor, and Miles all make appearances, and we get more background on their families – most of which are sad. But while reading, it helped to know how things turned out… just one benefit of prequels, I guess.
And in true Lois Bujold fashion, Barrayar explores ethical questions and moral dilemmas. That’s one of my favorite parts to Bujold’s writing – she weaves magnificent characters, engaging plots, fantastic worlds, and thought-provoking scenarios together seamlessly and somehow manages to keep her work short-ish (for SF). She’s amazing.
You could jump into the Vorkosigan saga anywhere, really, but I wouldn’t recommend Barrayar as your first. Maybe Shards of Honor or The Warrior’s ApprenticeThe Warrior’s Apprentice. But regardless of where you jump in: do it. So good.