Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga, #1)

Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga, #1) - Lois McMaster Bujold

I actually read this series years ago, but I'm rereading it, and thoroughly enjoying it. I'm wavering between a 4 and a 5, but I'm going to go high, because I think the good parts of this book outweigh the downside. And the the only downsides are: who is who of all the Vor* Barrayans has me thoroughly confused half the time, and... well when I was younger I remember thinking it had way too much politics in it slowing the plot down, but really it doesn't, in fact it barrels along at a great pace, and packs a lot of distance, action and drama into what is actually a pretty fast and easy read.

I love this first book particularly, Cordelia is such a great heroine, I wish girls would read this instead of some of the paranormal fantasy twaddle they are reading these days. I was a huge fantasy fan as a teenager too, but Cordelia is a heroine, a real fully rounded living breathing protagonist, not just "the main character in a book who happens to have boobs".

There is romance but it is not the focus of the book, and it feels real and like something career military adults might actually have, particularly those who found themselves on opposite sides of a war, having to make painful choices due to the demands of honour and duty and their obligations to the life they themselves chose. They don't get what they want, and even when they do, they don't get it when they want it.

A lot of reviewers find the epilogue odd, but I think of it as the post-credits scene to a movie. Not necessary to understand the rest of the book, but a nice little aftertaste for those who like it. And again, the woman protagonist in that final chapter is a real and rounded character, not just a space soldier with boobs. Like Cordelia, making the best of what life has handed her, in a painful situation.