by The Wanderer
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Publisher: Baen Books
Genre: Space Opera, Science Fiction
Series: Vorkosigan Saga Book One (Publishing Order)
Cordelia Naismith is Captain of a Beta Colony Astronomical exploration on the newly discovered planet of Escobar. During there exploration her crew is attacked by Lord Aral Vorkosigan the Butcher of Komarr, who has recently been betrayed by his own crew and left for dead. Cordelia and Aral marooned together with another injured Betan, must travel to a hidden Barrayaran cache and only then can they begin to reestablish order in their lives.
I guess this is as good a point as any to start the Vorkosigan Saga. Falling Free is supposed to be the other good starting point, but personally I like to see the growth of the author's writing as much as I like to see the story progress ... so I'm going to work my way through this series via publication order.
My opening plot synopsis probably covers only a third of the story. From there the plot jumps around erratically for a few years as readers get to spend time on Beta Colony and aboard a large Barrayaran space ship. These jumps in time and transition are necessary to move the plot along, but they're jarring and create a disconnect with the development of Lord Vorkosigan and Cordelia's romantic connection. I believe these two characters do have a chemistry, but the plot's orchestration is messy at best and it plays out as a very awkward reading experience.
One of the more interesting ideas that's developed is the culture clash between Barrayar, which features a more conservative, militaristic, and strictly traditional culture, and Beta Colony, which features a more liberal, scientific, and open-minded culture. Each culture and their values (and flaws) being represented by Cordelia and Lord Vorkosigan. Neither one is really portrayed as superior or inferior to the other.
Sergeant Bothari is another complex character that makes his debut in this story. And he is as anti a hero as any anti-hero you can find. I really still don't know how to interpret him, but he presents himself in the most disturbing scenes and leaves with some interesting questions.
Shards of Honor's messy plot hinders this story. But the potential is clearly there, especially in the character development and the worldbuilding. At the very least I'm interested in reading more in the saga, as it has been frequently cited, it takes a few books before things really get going.