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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

TBR Challenge for November

November's TBR Challenge is: Show you're thankful for all those book recommendations, and read something you've been putting off that was recommended by a friend.

There was really only one choice--an author that's been recommended to me by so many people I've lost track. Thank-you to every one of them. You were right.

Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. Science fiction.

This is a 2-in-1 volume.

  • ***** Shards of Honor.

    Commander Cordelia Naismith of the Beta Colony is on a scientific expedition on an alien planet when she and an ensign return to find their camp destroyed and the crew that didn't escape to their ship killed by the Barrayarans. They're attacked, Cordelia falls into a ravine, and wakes up to find herself a prisoner of "the Butcher of Komarr," Captain Aral Vorkosigan.

    Turns out, he's not the bloodthirsty villain he's been portrayed as, and he's in as much danger from at least some of his own people as she is.

    They get to know each other--and fall in love--as they work together to bury the dead, care for the ensign (who'd been hit with a nerve disruptor), survive in unfamiliar terrain, and eventually recover his command.

    I didn't entirely believe the romance, but had to take it as given. I did, however, believe the respect and admiration between them, and that was enough.

    Shards of Honor was appropriately titled, as so much of the conflict for both of them has to do with honor. They're a wonderful couple of star-crossed lovers, both strong and honorable, and in impossible situations.

    There are intriguing characters and hair-raising adventures, as well as painful and emotional decisions. I was very pleased with my introduction to All Things Bujold.

  • ***** Barrayar.

    This book comes next chronologically, but was published several years after Shards of Honor, and after other books in the same series.

    Cordelia and Aral are now married, living on Barrayar, and expecting their first child. All is well, despite some culture shock on Cordelia's part, until the emperor dies and Aral is named Regent for the child emperor, and they're plunged into political intrigue and danger.

    An attempt to poison them affects the growth of their unborn child and leaves Aral sterile. Cordelia opts to use the Betan technology left behind--a uterine replicator--to continue the pregnancy outside her body, and hires a medical scientist to perform experimental treatments on the baby, now named Miles, to save him.

    The rest of the story is one page-turning adventure after another, as a pretender attempts to sieze the throne, kill Aral, and kill or kidnap the young emperor. But when Miles in his uterine replicator is taken and held hostage, Cordelia can't afford to play politics any longer.

    All the great characters from Shards of Honor are back, and there's a lovely secondary romance--not a simple or easy one, of course. There's more worldbuilding, in the form of Cordelia's complaints and observations about the differences between Barrayar and the Beta Colony. Mostly, though, it's just en engrossing story full of adventure and characters I cared about.

This TBR challenge was absolutely a success. Although, coincidentally, Cordelia's Honor did end up in this month's randomly-chosen reads from the TBR pile, so it wasn't really necessary. As it's by far the most-recommended book in my TBR pile, I didn't see any point in picking another.

I've had this in my TBR pile for at least 3 years, along with Young Miles and A Civil Campaign. I'm not altogether sorry I waited so long to read it, though, because the nagging had died down to only an occasional comment that didn't end up triggering my hyper-critical contrary side.

Young Miles is already in the queue, but I'm not sure about A Civil Campaign. Should I just go ahead and read it, or wait until I get the remaining intervening books?


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IMO, this is a series you should read in order. I think you'll get more out of A Civil Campaign if you've read the others.
Thanks. I've got a list of them somewhere. I think I'll be ordering some books. :)
:sigh: I love Cordelia's Honor. And Bujold's Curse of Chalion, which is fantasy set in an entirely different world that her Vorkosigan books. I'm hoarding her recent release, and was quite pleased to hear that she's going to write another Vorkosigan book (not scheduled til 2008 at the earliest).
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