Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga is at the top of my list of very favorite series. I tend to prefer fantasy over science fiction, although I love them both, because too often (for my personal taste) science fiction novels tend to go off the deep-end with world building and indigestible lumps of exposition regarding the future at the expense of character development and forward momentum. Bujold's books, however, are never guilty of that sin, and her characters are so complex and dynamic, and the plots so well constructed and surprising that I am committed from the very first pages of every book she writes. And she writes beautifully.
I have already read every book in the Vorkosigan Saga, but I've been having a delightful time listening to the audio versions as read by Grover Gardner. Barrayar is actually the second book in the series, and the last one to feature Cordelia Naismith as its main character. The subsequent books focus on her son Miles, one of my all-time favorite fictional characters.
Cordelia has married a man from a different planet, a (to her mind) backward, conservative, violent place full of closed minds, sexism, and seething political intrigue. Her husband has been appointed regent, as the Emperor is too young to rule, and many of the noble houses are vying to oust the regency and rule in their own right. Despite the fact that all Cordelia wants is to have a safe place for her new family, she gets thrown into the middle of the upheaval, in a society where appearances are often deceiving. Luckily she is clever and politically savvy, taking nothing at face value. Even so, it is impossible to stop every political maneuver, and events soon take a deadly turn...
It is always a joy to return to Barrayar and spend some time with characters I've come to adore over the years. There is action and adventure, and a close look at the darker side of human nature, but also humor and brilliant world building as well as characterization. Even if you think you don't like science fiction, you should give this series a try. It is best to start at the beginning, but readers often begin with the third book, The Warrior's Apprentice, which is the first novel to feature Miles as the main character. I hope to listen to more books in this series during the coming year. Even with all the new books that are on my list to read, it is so worth it to take some time to revisit this series. The books are that good.
Books in the Vorkosigan Saga:
1. Shards of Honor
3. The Warrior's Apprentice
4. The Vor Game
6. Ethan of Athos (almost a spin-off)
7. Brothers in Arms
8. Borders of Infinity
9. Mirror Dance
12. A Civil Campaign
13. Diplomatic Immunity
Barrayar (#2 in the Vorkosigan Saga) by Lois McMaster Bujold; narrated by Grover Gardner (Blackstone Audio, 2009)