Read Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold Online


On opposing sides, Captain Cordelia Naismith and Admiral Lord Aral Vorkosigan marry and live in aristocratic splendor on his home planet Barrayar. Cordelia agrees with the dying old emperor that the Empire would be better if Aral would serve, but he knows secrets she does not....

Title : Barrayar
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780743468411
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Barrayar Reviews

  • Evgeny
    2019-05-19 04:45

    A buddy read with Choko.After the events of the last book Cordelia ended up on Barrayar. She thought she would be able to get used to new life fairly soon, but Barrayar is always full of excitement and surprises - like assassinations, civil war, regicide, forbidden duels ,external conquerors and such. You are guaranteed to never have a boring moment, but such lifestyle surely takes quite a while to get used to. Cordelia however was determined to fit in as best as she could which means she had to organize some of the fun from the above list herself - on the top of everything else. The only weakness I found was that the whole story is told from Cordelia's POV. She is a great and interesting character, but the position she was in almost always forced her to take a passive role. Aral Vorkosigan had more complete picture and as such his POV would make an excellent story. As it is now we only see consequences of his behind-the-scenes actions while he desperately tried to hold the Empire together. If I overlook this biggie I have no complaints - other than somewhat slow start. As I mentioned Cordelia is a great character, and so are a few secondary ones. Aral does not get enough screen time to qualify for a main character, but he is great in the rare scenes he appears. Even with Cordelia's limited information the story is not boring (but I would not qualify it as a space opera as everybody remains firmly on the surface of a planet here). Passive role or not, she still had to act at critical moments and make some key decisions by herself. I consider this book to be a good bridge between the previous book and the next one. Speaking about the next book, it is much better and can be fully qualify as a space opera as it has literally everything the genre requires. My rating is 3.5 stars rounded down because of my frustration with limited view on goings-on most of the time: this is a good connection story between its prequel and sequel, but as a standalone it is nothing to write home about.

  • Bradley
    2019-06-04 21:44

    Third read, update 12/6/17:The love story between Aral and Cordelia continues, but it's really a tale about Barrayaran politics and cultural horrors. To cull genetic mistakes or not? To break from the hold of barbaric cultural practices or not?Hell, it even goes a long way to toward teaching us forgiveness for the mentally ill. Although, to be perfectly fair, Cordelia's bulldog of a man has a lot of nobility in him for latching on to a truly noble mistress, but maybe that's missing a point somewhere. It's not him. It's her. Cordelia. And my goodness she really kicks ass. :)Besides all that, I'm REALLY enjoying the hell out of all the characters who get more screen time here and it spurs me on toward all the times I see them in big roles later and I'm loving how the whole series gels together. Even the development of certain themes told with different nuances are all here, set up and knocked down and will be knocked down just as gloriously later.Am I a total fanboy? I must be if I'm chomping at the bit to re-read the whole series. Again. For the third time. :)Original review:I remembered this fondly as I reread it now, and more than ever, it was nice to revisit. Revolution, stolen babies, friendly monsters, it really had it all, especially if you're looking for a solid space opera that has very little in the way of spaceships. I jest, but not really. The worldbuilding is very solid, the characters are really amazing and memorable, long, long after first reading them. I found myself smiling at what I remembered to come next, and chuckling at the ignorance of later characters when it came to the past (of which this novel is the present).It can certainly be taken on its own merit, and should be, but it is all the greater in the wider tapestry.

  • karen
    2019-06-07 00:48

    many thanks to eh and elizabeth etc, because i would never never never have read a book with a cover like this, but i did it for youse, and it has been wonderful, really.but so if i am understanding this correctly (and i hope that i am not) ms. bujold created one of the most interesting and likable-while-still-being-flawed characters ever and then abandoned her to write books about this character's son?? and all the rest are about him?? so lame.because i loved this book. i love cordelia. i love bujold's writing, too, so i am sure the other books are equally good, but come on! you got a good thing going here, don't deviate right when you got me interested! this is a five-star character here, she is all good things. i am not ready to start over with someone else. i did not expect to find such focus on well-rounding the characters in a piece of genre fiction. usually the focus is on the events, not on the psychology of the characters. this one is very character-driven, with plenty of action at the same time. there is humor, there is very close attention paid to details, and the focus is on mature, reasonable adults making decisions based on carefully considered facts. this pretty much sums it up; a character who assesses the situation, and manages to be self-sacrificing and unwhiny even though she has so much cause to be."and what is your current complaint?"i don't like barrayar, i want to go home, my father-in-law wants to murder my baby, half my friends are running for their lives, and i can't get ten minutes alone with my husband, whom you people are consuming before my eyes, my feet hurt, my head hurts, my soul hurts... it was all too complicated.the poor man just wanted something to put in his blank, not an essay."fatigue," cordelia managed at she is not a passive angelic beth type. but she understands what each situation calls for, she is eminently capable. and i admire that more than anything else in a human and in a written character. i love her dignity and that fact that she can also be frail. i want to say i will read more of these, but i feel like cordelia broke up with me before i was ready for her to do so, and i kind of want to prostrate myself before her and beg her to come back to me.she will, won't she?someday??

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    2019-06-11 02:42

    4+ stars. Barrayar--a Hugo winner and Nebula nominee back in 1991--is a book that improved dramatically for me on reread. It's more subtle and complex than I initially gave it credit for. And it's fascinating to see the development of Cordelia and Aral's characters from their initial beginnings in Shards of Honor, and their growing relationships with each other and with the people around them.The first half of Barrayar is a little on the quiet side, more deliberately paced, as Cordelia, a woman with socially liberal views, comes to terms with her new life as Lady Vorkosigan in the rigidly traditional and militaristic society on Barrayar. Her husband Aral is appointed as regent to the child emperor of Barrayar, which puts Cordelia and Aral in the bull's eye of political machinations ... which become more dangerous than either of them anticipated. Readers who are familiar with Miles Vorkosigan from the later books in this series will get the beginning of his story here, and it's well worth your time. The second half is a whirlwind, a heart-stopping adventure with Cordelia and her new friends at the center of a desperate plan that has far-reaching implications for the entire planet of Barrayar. The first half might be a bit slow-paced for some, as it sets up the second half, but it's worth the wait!Cordelia is a character for the ages, an outspoken, unstoppable force whose steely determination is combined with intelligence, a warm heart and concern for the people around her ... other than those that are causing trouble for Cordelia or those she loves."He tried to hurt Aral through me. I found that . . . annoying. I wish you would cease trying to annoy me, Count Vordarian, I'm afraid you might succeed." Her voice fell further, almost to a whisper. "You should fear it, too."Aral is a great foil for her, a strong character in his own right, but it's Cordelia who's at the center of this story. I'd love to meet her. She'd probably kick my butt into shape in a dozen ways I didn't realize were needed until she pointed them out to me.

  • Choko
    2019-05-26 22:35

    *** 4.75 ***A buddy read with Evgeny, because we love Sci-fi!Wow!!! Just WOW!!! This is the third book in the chronological order of the series and I am already addicted to it! It is Sci-fi, but this one was on a planet very similar to Earth, Barrayar. No space battles, no new monsters, if we don't count the Barrayar Vors, the planet's nobility, who all act like monsters most of the time. No robots and no new races of humanoids. Just the life of Vorkosigan and Cordelia four months after they got married. He is taking his position as a regent to the young Emperor Gregor, and this is cutting into their private time and putting them in a very dangerous position, being a target for everyone with political ambitious. The relationship is severely tested when an assassination attempt puts the very pregnant Cordelia and her baby in mortal danger. The possibility that the baby is most likely going to be born with severe disabilities puts the love of the mother counter to the believes of the old nobility that it would be much better for the baby to be terminated at once than to bring shame to the family with its weaknesses and deformities. Coming from the much more liberal and progressive Beta Colony, Cordelia is ready to fight whoever stands in the way to her child's survival. And the numbers of those grow exponentially when a civil war for the throne tears up the very tenuous peace between the full blooded contenders of the Emperor of these war loving militant people. On top of that, Cordelia has to remind her husband why he married her in the first place - because she is the smartest, bravest, most carrying person he had ever met! The book started with a lot of political machinations and intrigues, goes through couple of assassination attempts, some time for Cornelia to adjust to her new home, and introduction to several new characters, including the emperor, his mom, and their female bodyguard Dru, who rapidly becomes a perfect fit within the already established group of Cordelia, Vorkosigan and the two misfits soldiers who are now in their employee. They provide some of the comedy relief, as well as a great support for the crazy schemes Cordelia tends to come up with in the most hopeless situation. I love them all as a group now and would hate for anything bad to happen to anyone!!! I am putting the author on notice from the start! Don't break my heart, LMB! Yes, I know the books have already been written, but I like to pretend they write themselves magically as I read them. Gives me that false sense of control I like to delude myself with ☺! I loved the way the book became a mad dash for survival in the second half and I could not put it down for a minute after I reached that juncture. It was intense, it was smart, and it was emotional without being melodramatic. I am in love! Now I can't wait to see if all this worry, death and blood was worth it, and I have been promised a heck of an adventure with young Miles Naismith Vorkosigan as we go deeper into the series! I can't wait ☺☺☺!I wish you all Happy Reading and many more wonderful books to come!

  • Melindam
    2019-06-16 22:38

    Barrayar - chronologically Book #2 in the series, the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold - is Space Opera at its best. Describing it in opera terms: it is bel canto ("florid and intricate, requiring supreme agility and pitch control") combined with powerful and dramatic storytelling and LMB just got what it takes to write a damn fantastic libretto. The first part seems restrained, introducing dramatis personae & laying the ground for further action. LMB is gradually raising the stakes or increasing the volume & intensity, if you like, until a breathtaking climax descends upon us. The story starts right where Book #1, Shards of Honour finished. The emperor of Barrayar is dying and has appointed Aral Vorkosigan as regent until his grandson, Gregor, now 5, grows up. Aral's wife, Cordelia - coming from a technologically & socially much more developed planet - finds it hard to fit into to Barrayaran society and struggles to come to figure out its strange and complicated customs. Barrayar is rigidly feudal, dominated by a military caste and its technology borders on "medieval", due to an almost complete isolation from other planets. Most of the leaders, the so-called Vors, resist change and consider Aral's leadership as revolutionary and endangering their very existence. After the emperor's death a period of political and military unrest begins that endangers both Cordelia & Aral (as well as the child-emperor), their friends & allies and has far-reaching consequences none of them foresaw. I continued to like both Cordelia and Aral: they are wonderfully strong characters in their different ways. The love, respect, trust and support they give each other is amazing. As for Cordelia: she get baffled by her new home planet and its people, but won't let herself be manipulated or frightened for a second by political enemies. She is one hell of a brave and capable woman. (view spoiler)[When her unborn baby's life is endangered due to an assassination attempt, she never plays the big drama-queen, but grabs the doctors "by the balls" and forces / coaxes / bribes them into saving the fetus even though she is aware of the strong animosity concerning disabled people referred to by most Barrayarns as "mutations" & her own father-in-law threatens to abort the baby personally. (hide spoiler)]The trademark, dry humour of LMB is there throughout and manages to lighten the mood which gets fairly dark by the end. The storyline of political manoeuvering and military tactics is very well depicted: it stays exciting and engaging until the very last moment and my very favourite scene: a dramatic escape of pursuers in horseback (in a Sci-Fi novel) is just priceless.Thanks to Evgeny for the recommendation and pointing out the right reading-order. :)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • mark monday
    2019-05-25 20:45

    Barrayar continues and completes the story of former survey ship captain Cordelia Naismith and her husband Aral Vorkosigan, Regent of Barrayar. it is pretty enjoyable. is Bujold becoming one of my favorite scifi authors? i'm surprised at that realization. her style is not particularly striking, often rather plain and unadorned. i don't usually gravitate to those sorts of writers - the straightforward ones. but her themes, her careful way with characterization, her undramatic recognition of the complexity, fallibility, and occasional heroism of the human species are all things that this usually impartial robot observer finds himself genuinely responding to, with uncharacteristic human warmth.characterization is clearly Bujold's major strength and this novel supplies ample opportunity for intriguingly multi-leveled characters to shine. in particular Bothari - poor Bothari! - so damaged by life and the terrible things done to him that he has become a person who will take on the persona of whoever he is needed to be. his need for someone to guide him, his craving for validation and for purpose... made so palpable by Bujold.the first half of the novel is pretty intimate in scale. it mainly concerns various domestic issues (and by "domestic" i mean "in & around the home" rather than "homeland") as Cordelia acclimates to the overly formal, high-strung, and resolutely warlike Barrayaran culture. it feels odd and a little wrong to use the words domestic and intimate when describing a (low-key) space opera whose first half includes two assassination attempts and various other dramatic incidents. but that is the feeling i got and it worked really well. the reader gets to know Barrayar in an unhurried fashion, just like Cordelia. and the reader continues to understand Cordelia in that same deliberate, slowly unfolding sort of a way. i liked the lack of hustle & bustle and i appreciated the calm, unrushed all changes in the second part. and so swiftly! from slow acclimatization right into a fast-moving adventure narrative, things happening pell-mell... a flight, a rescue, a secret journey, confrontations, deaths, a raging fire... my gosh, a head gets cut off and carried in a bag to be dramatically tossed onto a boardroom table! awesome. it was incredibly satisfying to see how well Cordelia adapted to her new world, how easily she is able to win others to her side, how passionate and furious and even murderous she can get when dealing with people who have attacked her loved ones. Mother Bear! yet she still stays herself - compassionate, warm-hearted, saddened & angered by the small-mindedness of others. she's an awesome character. and this is a satisfying book.

  • Lizzy
    2019-06-08 00:54

    “I am afraid.” So simply opens Barrayar with Cordelia words. It takes places immediately after the events of Shards of Honor and starts out with low-key family strife that sets the tone along with political developments. All the time, Lois McMaster Bujold’s character build up takes center stage. All in all, it is much more than the science-fiction tag that describes it.“My home is not a place, it is people.”The beginning might be slow though not less significant, and it is preparing for what is to come. Cordelia is adjusting to an overly formal, aristocratic and warlike Barrayar. However, half-way through the rhythm changes. Then there is a revolution, a secret journey, vital prisoners, bloodshed and death, a rescue, a raging fire, and ultimately a triumphant return. Yes, there is so much to enjoy in Barrayar. It might be very character-driven, but there is plenty of action to satisfy any reader. Above all, Bujold’s masterful writing keeps the reader’s interest fully engaged.The action scenes are well written and believable, but it’s Bujold’s characters that lift the book to another level. They are all very human. I particularly appreciated the relationship between Cordelia and Aral. There is tension, as should be expected, but their marriage comes out solid in the end. They are a team against whatever comes against them. And Bujold establishes it particularly well through their dialogues:“His naked agony terrified her. She held him tightly in return. ‘I don’t know. I don’t know. But somebody has been making these kinds of decisions right along, while we went along blissfully unconscious, taking the world as given. And they were only humans, too. No better, no worse than you.’‘Frightening thought.’She sighed. ‘You can’t choose between evil and evil, in the dark, by logic. You can only cling to some safety line of principle.’ …‘Dear Captain, If I’m still sane, fifteen years from now, I believe it will be your doing.’For those that enjoyed Shards of Honor like me, it is very satisfying to see how well Cordelia adapts to her new home, how easily she wins accomplices to her side, how furious or even murderous she is with those that hurt her loved ones. Above all, she is still her own woman. When after an assassination attempt, Cordelia and Aral’s unborn son suffers permanent after-effects, their relationship is tested but comes out strong as he supports Cordelia’s effort to save their son.When Miles is born, I felt her words to him were meaningful and particularly poignant: “Welcome to Barrayar, son. Here you go: have a world of wealth and poverty, wrenching change and rooted history. Have a birth; have two. Have a name. Miles means "soldier," but don't let the power of suggestion overwhelm you. Have a twisted form in a society that loathes and fears the mutations that have been its deepest agony. Have a title, wealth, power, and all the hatred and envy they will draw. Have your body ripped apart and re-arranged. Inherit an array of friends and enemies you never made. Have a grandfather from hell. Endure pain, find joy, and make your own meaning, because the universe certainly isn't going to supply it. Always be a moving target. Live. Live. Live.”The conclusion is not only strong, but also lays the groundwork for the rest of the series. And leaves us wanting more!Highly recommended!

  • Trish
    2019-05-24 01:40

    I am so sold on Cordelia and Aral as a couple. This might be an old scifi saga but it's one that has aged well in my opinion.This is the third book, chronologically, and tells of Cordelia after she married Aral Vorkosigan and came to live with him on Barrayar. Naturally, a few things about this society are alien to her (and to us) but she also realizes some weird things about her own culture and that both aren't exactly perfect. Moreover, since the Emperor has appointed Aral regent, there is a lot of stuff to organize and get used to. Originally, Cordelia thought she'd marry a retired military commander, but now she finds herself in the middle of political intrigue, attempted assassinations and the likes.But not to worry: Cordelia is kick-ass once again, while still being her own person (empathetic, sensitive). She needs Aral because she loves him but she will also fight like the proverbial lioness for him:"He tried to hurt Aral through me. I found that . . . annoying. I wish you would cease trying to annoy me, Count Vordarian, I'm afraid you might succeed." Her voice fell further, almost to a whisper. "You should fear it, too."And Aral - despite being strong, honourable, strategic (as seen in the discussion about the rescue attempt), but also loving and kind - needs her just as much. The first half of the book might seem slow to some because all the political players have to be moved into position but what we read here is very important for the second half of the book (and, in fact, the rest of the series) as well as the characterization of all the secondary characters such as Bothari and Droushnakovi (what a love story THAT is with Koudelka!). So it's worth the wait and once action does happen ... phew, that was a wild ride!As usual, the author gives us an adventurous tale that hides some very deep and important topics. Such as consent (sexual as well as to medical treatments) or how a society treats physically disabled people. The latter especially since Barrayar is being portrayed like Sparta when it comes to babies and disabilities. This was a very up-to-date topic, even more so back when this was written. From a modern perspective, I have to say that I, personally, think I would probably terminate a pregnancy when being notified of my baby's disability. I know many cannot understand that but even nowadays you don't exactly live in paradise if something is wrong with you and a physical or mental disability means there is indeed something "wrong", even if I think we should integrate disabled people fully in any society. Thus, I think it's better to not subject my child and me/my partner to such a life (with today's technology it's also easier to spot when something is wrong).Nevertheless, I loved how Cordelia fought for Miles (against Aral's father even), succeeded, and how the young boy even manages to change his grandfather's stern mind. This is the saga of an underdog (to some extend) after all.What I probably like most about this is how the author manages to portray a topic from all kinds of angles. She shows different points of view and the readers decide which they prefer or if they would try to find a way in between even. There is also no stiffness about the characters; they can learn and evolve, change their minds, ... This makes the scenes and problems as well as the characters much more lively and 3-dimensional.

  • Clouds
    2019-06-03 21:48

    Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became a father. As such these stories became imprinted on my memory as the soundtrack to the happiest period in my life (so far).Two books from Bujold’s epic sci-fi series, The Vorkosigan Saga, won the Locus Sci-Fi Award in the mid-90s. Barrayar in ’92 and Mirror Dance in ’95. Despite being published just a few years apart, within the chronology of The Vorkosigan Saga, the two stories fall at opposite ends of the spectrum – Barrayar is (chronologically) book two of the series, and Mirror Dance is book nine: Barrayar focuses on Cordelia at the time of Miles’ birth, and Mirror Dance focuses on Marc (Miles’ clone-brother) as a grown man.I think it was the names that made me initially sceptical. Vorkosigosioisi-whatsit, doesn’t exactly trip off your tongue, nor does Bararayarra. The covers looked so cheesy I thought they’d attract mice quicker than bookworms…Oh, I was such a fool! I loved Mirror Dance. It was heaps of fun! As I mentioned in my review of that book – I love long series (big fan of Discworld and Dresden Files) – so the idea of quality sci-fi series had major appeal to me. I got excited. I would’ve gladly ploughed straight into Barrayar next, but I’d already ordered my next batch of books beforehand, so I had to blitz through Brin’s Uplift Saga trilogy first. Then I faced a dilemma – Barrayar or Speaker for the Dead? I felt confident that Bujold would deliver, but I hadn’t yet given Card a chance – oh what a pickle!I read Speaker first, and it was good enough to stop me itching for Barrayar. But I had my happy-face on when we eventually got our time together!Someone should have warned me though – this is the story of how Cordelia, pregnant with Miles, gets hit with a ‘Soltoxin’ bio-warfare grenade in the midst of a civil war. Her and Aral (her husband) get the antidote and are fine – but not the baby. This is the book that explains Miles’ stunted growth and ‘mutie’ appearance in later books. This is not the ideal book to read when your own wife is heavily pregnant with your first child!Or maybe it is. Bujold has a couple of kids and from her writing I feel confident that she’s a great Mum – Cordelia certainly is. I think I empathised with Cordelia more than I could have before facing parenthood myself. I was trying to push my life in a new direction, to build for a family and future - and Cordelia is struggling to adapt to a new planet and culture as she plans for her family. Some of the echoes struck deep, and sometimes that made me uncomfortable. I loved Mirror Dance as amazing, fun sci-fi. I was expecting more in that vein here – I wasn’t expecting to feel worried and aching inside.I’ve mentioned in other reviews that my best experiences with books are when they live up to and exceed my expectations. When they’re not what I expected, when I feel blindsided or ill prepared, I sometimes struggle to enjoy the immersion as much. This is one reason I used to be so cautious with new authors.Barrayar is a tremendous book. A thoughtful start, building to a gripping, page-turning climax; a wonderful grasp of characters and a tightly plotted scenario. Really, it should be a 5-star read.But because it made me feel stressed, because it made me worry about my baby – how I would feel if there was something wrong with him, something they’d missed in the scans, something they couldn’t foresee ‘till he was born – I kept jarring myself out of the story and can only give it 4-stars.I’ve since continued to read (and very much enjoy) The Vor Game, and was recently given another three Vorkosigan books for my birthday – so I shall definitely, enthusiastically, be continuing with the series.

  • Conor
    2019-05-27 00:40

    Jumping around a bit in reading book 7 after book 1 in this series but it worked pretty well. This book started out brilliantly with some understated (well as understated as assassination attempts and high risk experimental surgeries can be) family turmoil, politics and character development taking center stage. While it wasn't particularly dramatic Bujold's masterful writing of interesting, nuanced characters kept me engaged. However about half-way through the focus turned into an isolated trek through the countryside that just seemed to drag on and on. And on. By the time the plot returned to the important points and characters I had grown to care about I was struggling to maintain my attention. Fortunately the conclusion was strong: exciting action and some really cool moments where we learned more about certain characters and their motivations (insights into Sergeant Bothari and how his messed up childhood led to the development of the demons that have plagued him throughout the series were especially compelling). Overall this was a good continuation to the series that has left me psyched to check out the rest of the series, especially as these first 2 books often felt like a prologue to the "really start" of the series with the appearance of Miles in book 2.Full review to come...

  • Milda Page Runner
    2019-05-20 02:39

    3.5* Similar to previous book the first half is slower – mainly focussing on family melodrama and politics with a few assassination attempts to spice things up. Half way though pacing changes dramatically and then we get all the action and suspense one could hope for from the book. Cordelia shines in it.Whilst I loved second part of this book I also had few issues with this instalment. With all the time spent on Barrayar it becomes obvious that Barrayar is remarkably similar to Earth. The same green vegetation, the same types of landscape, even temperatures and seasons are the same. We also have (imported) horses and people burn wood in the fireplaces… Normally I expect more imagination and variety from my sci-fi/space opera.Secondly I couldn’t help but notice that most of their issues (Koudelka’s physical and Sergant Bothari mental state, Cordelia’s disruptor damaged leg and worries about present state, birth and child) could have been solved by hiring a doctor or two from more technologically advanced planet along with the better medical equipment. Not beyond possibilities for Emperor’s Regent I should think.Despite these issues I have enjoyed this read and even found it hard to put down halfway in. Whilst it is slightly weaker than the previous book it truly feels 3.5* and I would happily recommend to space opera fans.

  • Althea Ann
    2019-06-01 01:45

    The chronological sequel to 'Shards of Honor' follows Cordelia Naismith as she defects from Beta, in order to make her way to Barrayar and find her former captor Aral Vorkosigan - a man she has come to love and respect.It's not incomprehensible that her Betan psychologists assume that she must be suffering from something like Stockholm syndrome, or some more insidious mental conditioning. The suspicion cast on her means that even though the war between Beta and Barrayar is technically over, Cordelia must leave the familiar comforts of home behind and give herself fully to her new life on primitive, violent, militaristic Barrayar. Nearly immediately she finds herself plunged into the dizzying complexity of the upper levels of Barrayaran politics, as Aral discovers that the peaceful retirement he'd been planning is not in the cards for him. And that's not the only sudden change: Cordelia is pregnant.If you've read later books in this series, a great deal of this book is a lot of tension waiting for certain events that you've already read about, to happen. It's intentional on the author's part - this book involves her backtracking and filling in details about events that have already been referred to in other books. I think it would be an equally enjoyable, although different, experience to read it without already having been introduced to Miles and knowing the difficulties and circumstances surrounding his birth.

  • Daniel
    2019-05-24 00:57

    Znaci wow. Odlicna knjiga, mnogo bolja nego ocekivano. Mnogo bolja nego prethodna. Prica kao prica je dobta mada nista posebno ali zato likovi i nacin na koji su prezentovani je savrsen. Drze paznju, dobri da za njih navijas, losi da ih mrzis. Isto tako niko nije savrsen, dobri prave greske, nekada i glupe, losi momci i nisu tolko losi kolko su vodjeni drugom ideologijom i kulturom u kojoj su odrasli. Nije sve suvese crno/belo ima i sivog.Nacin pisanja je takav da me,a dosade, prica te stalno vuce napred i ne mozes se strpeti dok ne procitas sta se desilo kasnije.U svakom slucaju bravo.Inace knjiga se vodi ka SF ali sem par tehnologija koje su futuristicke bez vecih problema ova prica bi mogla biti prebacena i u nase vreme ili cak i fantazijsko. To mi je jedino nekako malo smetalo ali to je sitna zamerka.Preporuka.E da jos jedna stvar koja mi se svidja kod Loiz-e je pisanje knjiga koje su svaka zatvorena celina, odnosno i ako niste citali prethodnu shavtice se sve sta treba, nema rupa u znanju. Voleo bi kada bi cise autora o radilo a ne da samo guraju cliff hanger u sve knjige.

  • Kathleen
    2019-06-02 21:29

    4.5 stars — it's even better on the second go-round. Chronologically, book two in this nicely-paced, militaristic space opera / romance, set centuries in the future on planets peopled by various descendants of Earth (two planets are Barrayar and Beta). I liked this book more than Shards of Honour. In sum, Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan take no prisoners, protecting their marriage, their unborn son, and the empire.Plot, major spoilers hidden: At the end of book one, Cordelia and Aral married. Now, as this book begins, the newlyweds are living on Barrayar, where the emperor and his counts must be Vor descendants, a military caste. Cordelia misses her progressive home planet, Beta. Cordelia quickly conceives. Her pregnancy is stressful. Unknown enemies make several attempts on their lives, because her husband, a Vor lord and war hero, has been named Regent of Barrayar, running the empire till little Gregor, turning five years old, grows up.The love between Cordelia and Aral is tested several times and trust deepens. Tragedy occurs, causing (view spoiler)[their growing fetus to develop brittle bones, easily broken (hide spoiler)]. Cordelia kicks asparagus in this story. While Aral is busy overthrowing a political coup, she takes on all comers to protect her fetus, Miles, growing in a replicator, vulnerable to kidnapping and murder. Her mama-bear instincts might potentially result in a killing spree. She could do it, too, with lethal and loyal Bothari at her side.SPOILER:Key dialogue, at the resolution (major spoiler!!) (view spoiler)[“Count Piotr’s hand slapped down hard upon the table. “Good God, woman, where have you been?” he cried furiously.A morbid lunacy overtook her. She smiled fiercely at him, and held up the bag. “Shopping.”For a second, the old man nearly believed her; conflicting expressions whiplashed over his face, astonishment, disbelief, then anger as it penetrated he was being mocked.“Want to see what I bought?” Cordelia continued, still floating. She yanked the bag’s top open, and rolled Vordarian’s head out across the table. Fortunately, it had ceased leaking some hours back. It stopped faceup before him, lips grinning, drying eyes staring.Piotr’s mouth fell open. Kanzian jumped, the staffers swore, and one of Vordarian’s traitors actually fell out of his chair, recoiling. Vortala pursed his lips and raised his brows. Koudelka, grimly proud of his key role in stage-managing this historic moment in one-upsmanship, laid the swordstick on the table as further evidence. Illyan puffed, and grinned triumphantly through his shock.Aral was perfect. His eyes widened only briefly, then he rested his chin on his hands and gazed over his father’s shoulder with an expression of cool interest. “But of course,” he breathed. “Every Vor lady goes to the capital to shop.”(Refers to when Cordelia, aided by Drou and Bothari, beheads and bags "the pretender" (ersatz emperor Vordarian ) while rescuing her baby, Miles, growing in the replicator. Meanwhile, Kou is sneaking Lady Alys and baby Ivan to safety.)(hide spoiler)]. Some dialogue feels canned,as in this eye-rolling moment: Here is Vorkosigan, utterly grief stricken and enraged at an act that nearly cost him his entire family, and did cause irreparable damage. Just minutes later, he addresses the attacker in over-the-top language, smacking of a prepared speech: "Did you dream of sweet revenge? You have it. So eat vengeance. Drink it. Fondle it. Wrap it round you in the night watch. It's all yours. I will it all to you. For myself, I've gorged it to the gagging point, and have lost my stomach for it." (He is shellshocked? No way.)Secondary characters:It was good to see so much of Lieutenant Koudelko (aka Kou, injured so badly in Shards) and Sargeant Bothari, the much-abused "monster" who has formed such an attachment to kindly Cordelia. These two men add so much to the story! I sympathize with and admire them. Plus, I never know quite what to expect. They are wildcards, to some extent. Sequels:The stage is now set for about a dozen sequels about their incredible son Miles and his fabulous friends. At the end of this book, Cordelia charges Aral (the acting Regent) to "Remake this world into one Miles can survive in. And Elena. And Ivan. And Gregor." In the epilogue, we see Miles at about age five. Little rascal.I listened to the Blackstone Audio app.The narration is decent, but not outstanding. A pleasant male voice, probably a baritone. Given the 3rd-person POV was mainly the heroine's, a female voice would have served better, IMO. ________About the series: The Vorkosigan Saga is space opera with some romantic bits here and there. As science fiction it's not outstanding, but just fine. The sci-fi elements involve advanced biomedical technology, including cloning and other types of genetic engineering (no longer fiction). The series contrasts the militaristic, intolerant, feudal planet of Barrayar against the enlightened and generally progressive planet of Beta Colony. This cultural dichotomy is fairly suspect, but interesting. It serves a purpose. Bujold does a nice job with characterization and plot development. Her pacing is good, too. I enjoy the series.======= My reviews of this series (*favorites):Shards of Honor review*Barrayar review*The Warrior's Apprentice reviewThe Vor Game reviewCetaganda reviewThe Mountains of Mourning reviewLabyrinth review*Borders of Infinity reviewBrothers in Arms reviewMirror Dance review*Memory review*Miles in Love: Komarr, A Civil Campaign, Winterfair Gifts review*Komarr reviewDiplomatic Immunity reviewCaptain Vorpatril's Alliance reviewCryoburn review

  • Caro M.
    2019-06-07 21:39

    UPDATED 2017.04.02 with Worst Cover Gallery-check down below and feel free to comment!_________________________________I'm reading it in order suggested by author, so after nr 1 comes nr 7, instead of nr 2. Barrayar is a sequel to Shards of Honor and a prequel to Warrior's Apprentice.Cordelia Naismith becomes Cordelia Vorkosigan and as a Vor lady she must play by new rules of Vor class (call it military junta, call it samurai, depends on your feelings for army) and get used to life on Barrayar. She observes and faces sexism, radical conservatism and social intolerance. It all pisses her off, just as it should, coming from rather liberal and tolerant Beta society (something like Amsterdam, but without water or plants). And then she gets pregnant. She has to fight (literally too) to keep her baby alive - I don't want to spoil as to why and how. And of course she gets herself in trouble again. But it's our Cordelia, we know she won't fail, right?It still felt more like a fantasy to me than science fiction, with all those court intrigues and ball gowns, emperors and princesses, but it didn't really hurt. I liked the story very much again and I expect even more from Miles' arcs in future. I love Bujold's writing, LOVE it, you guys. The situations she builds, characters (even Bothari? especially Bothari!), conflicts - it's all so juicy. Can't wait for more.________________________Worst Cover Gallery Well, I'm sort of overwhelmed.

  • Lindsay
    2019-06-13 23:44

    This review is for my reread of the Vorkosigan Saga with SpecFic Buddy Reads during 2017/18. I read this for the first time sometime during the 1990s directly after Shards of Honour and as a follow-up after reading much later books in the series (Memory and onwards).Masterful introduction to the planet of Barrayar and the foundations of the Miles Vorkosigan books with a strong theme of parenting, responsibility and legacy.Cordelia is now Lady Vorkosigan and Lord Aral is the Regent of Barrayar. This comes with a huge set of responsibilities, risks and enemies, but also with new family, friends and allies. Cordelia will need all of those as Barrayar falls into civil war and her child comes under threat.The bulk of this novel was written long after the first volume and it really shows. The story is masterful and Cordelia has become such a strong character, both in terms of her voice and her actions. She was great in Shards; she's awesome here. There are many laugh out loud moments in the story, but there are also some great reflections on what living in this society is like as well as thoughts on parenting that are universal, regardless of whether you're living in a space colony in a far future, or our present.I'm very glad that a return to this book was rewarded and I still hold it in very high regard.

  • Jim
    2019-06-05 03:37

    Wow! Absolutely wonderful as an audio book & the story was much tighter than the previous one.More great history & expanding internal politics of Barrayar. A lot of tough decisions & some remarkable adventure. There are also some shining moments, especially by Cordelia. Two of the things I loved; Cordelia goes off & completes her own adventure much to Aral's dismay & delight. He tells her not to do that to him again. She simply tells him to make sure she doesn't have to again. It was perfect!The other is a real spoiler, so don't read this unless you've already read the book. (view spoiler)[Her dropping the severed head on the conference room table, of course.(hide spoiler)] The amazing thing was that Bujold made it actually fit her character & situation, although I doubt even Bothari (view spoiler)[ cutting off a man's head with one swing of a sword cane.(hide spoiler)] Oh well, it was still a great moment.On to the next in chronological order, The Warrior's Apprentice.

  • Sarah Anne
    2019-06-07 21:44

    These characters are so wonderful that I'm regretting not buying every single book in the series when that Audible sale was happening a few days ago. Sigh.One of the things that I appreciated about this book was the way that it dealt with pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. It was a small part of the book but I like that it was in there at all. It's just not something I've run across often. There was quite a bit of danger and some heart pounding situations, and then there's Cordelia herself. She's a rather remarkable woman. I can't wait to move forward in the series and read about Miles.

  • Veronique
    2019-06-04 21:32

    4.5*“I don't want power. I just object to idiots having power over me.”The previous two books in the saga were ok but this one finally got under my skin. We’re back with Cordelia, witnessing her efforts in trying to adapt to her new life as Aral’s wife and to the social rules of Barrayar. The couple seem to work well together but the stress and weight of the regency does put them into ever worsening situations. The narrative starts slowly, setting the scene, letting us get the lay of the land and its people. Then, things turn around, the pace speeding up and throwing us into thrilling action scenes. Cordelia does shine, being strong, capable and determined without loosing her feminity or her sense of self in this misoginist world. Some pretty deep and intense topics come to the fore and I must applaud Bujold for the way she treats them.

  • Laura (Kyahgirl)
    2019-05-19 01:51

    4.5/5; 4 stars; AI first read this book 7 or 8 years ago and couldn't remember all the details. I'm glad I re-visited it. Cordelia is one of my favorite heroines. She is smart, courageous, snarky, and kind hearted. (view spoiler)[ her technique for 'bagging the bad guy' is one of the best out there. I also think her understanding and acceptance of Bothari and championship of Gregor as well as her own son, make her an outstanding heroine in my eyes. (hide spoiler)]This book has political intrigue and maneuvering but that's not what its all about. There are several plot lines going, dealing with Cordelia's relationships with various Barrayaran women and men. Great action. This books is crisper and better plotted than Shards of Honor, and a great follow up to that book.The audio book version that I have is read by Michael Hanson and Carol Cowan. It was awesome. Most of the books I've listened to in this series are read by Grover Gardner, who I like very much, so I wasn't sure what to expect here. Cowan's voice reminds me of Anna Fields so I am going to see what else I can find by her.

  • Jon
    2019-06-07 21:42

    4 stars

  • Stephen
    2019-05-22 02:49

    4.0 to 4.5 stars. I started reading the Vorkosigan Saga in chronological order (rather then publication order) with the first "Miles" story, The Warrior's Apprentice. I have gooten around to focusing on the first two books in the Saga and I must say that I really liked this one. I have always been a fan of Miles' mother, Cordelia, and she really shines in this story. Opening right after the events in Shards of Honour (which I still need to read), Cordelia, who has recently married Aral Vorkosigan and is pregnant with their first child, trying to get acclimated to the rigidly military society of the Barrayarans. Things get more complicated becauase Aral has been named Regent to the imperial heir, Gregor Vorbarra, and is suddenly at the center of a political struggle for power. When Cordelia and Aral become the targets of an assassination attempt involving a deadly poison, Cordelia learns that her unborn fetus (i.e., Miles) will be permanently damaged by the attack even if her were somehow able to survive until birth. This is when the story really becomes good. Cordelia is unwilling to "abort" her son and comes under severe pressure from Aral's father, a strict conservative, because in Barrayar's culture, people with handicaps (which is the best case for the baby even if it survives) are held in contempt and looked on as a shame to the family. Cordelia's efforts to save her son (and Aral's unwaivering commitment to her despite his cultural bias) is handled extremely well without a lot of melodrama and gives keen insight into these two very important figures and their relationship. You truly get a sense of where Miles gets his intellect and his determination by watching Cordelia and Aral in action. A great story for fans of the Vorkosigan Saga. Recommended!!!Winner: Hugo Award for Best Novel (1992)Winner: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1992)Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Novel (1992)

  • Ben Babcock
    2019-05-26 20:48

    Immediately after finishing Shards of Honour, I jumped into Barrayar with gusto. I’d say this is the payoff to Shards of Honour, but that might give you the wrong idea. Both novels are good—but this is where it gets really interesting. Cordelia has married Aral Vorkosigan and left everything she knows behind to live with him on Barrayar, capital planet of the interstellar empire of the same name. Things are complicated: she’s pregnant and has very progressive ideas about raising kids; Aral gets named the regent of the new child emperor when the old emperor dies; and not a week goes by without some kind of assassination attempt. Pretty much, Cordelia and Aral have a very busy year. Because that makes for good reading.I can say for certain that I liked this book better than the first one. However, there is a lot about Barrayar that gives me reservations. In the first book, Cordelia is this super-capable survey ship captain. She escapes the slightly-oppressive psychiatric regime imposed upon her by the authorities of Beta Colony and ends up with Aral, whom she has developed an affinity and, yes, love for. In Barrayar, though, Cordelia at first seems like her strings have been cut. She’s married but somewhat lifeless. Examples of her agency and will are few and far between—though, to be fair, they are certainly present. For the most part, however, Cordelia spends a lot of time confused by Barrayan customs and going to boring parties.Fortunately, Lois McMaster Bujold turns it all around in the third act. Up until that point, I stayed afloat thanks to the masterful plotting even though the characterzation wasn’t satisfying me. I wanted to know who was behind these assassination plots, whether the child emperor would survive, and whether Cordelia’s child would survive. Bujold wraps all these questions up into a neat little ball—then tosses it into the creepy neighbour’s backyard and tells us to go ring their doorbell. She’ll wait.Cordelia has to save her baby and, in so doing, gets a little ambitious by accident and saves the empire. I love it. I love it, because Bujold isn’t writing a Mary Sue here—Cordelia doesn’t go in there with the intention of killing Vordarian. It just kind of … happens … even after she tries to prevent it. The domesticity of Cordelia’s motivations frustrates me slightly, but it also makes the most sense. This isn’t Cordelia’s fight. She might be married to Aral, the rightful regent of the empire, but it’s not her empire. For all she cares, they could leave this all behind and go retire on an asteroid somewhere. What matters to Cordelia is her child, and creating a Barrayar that will accept her child. I can get behind that.So I spent a good deal of Barrayar vaguely bemused by these characters even as I screamed, “Get on with it!” The intrigue, though, is what makes the book. This is science fiction in name only: it has the trappings and plot devices of a science-fiction novel, but Bujold has really written historical fiction transposed and redecorated. Call a grenade a “sonic grenade” instead of just grenade. Have some aristocracy and swordfighting and, oh yeah, external womb tank machines. There are some minor details in here that make it science fiction, but Barrayar will appeal to anyone who is interested in court intrigue and dynastic power struggles. Because the science fiction is secondary here, and there is nothing wrong with that when the result is a powerful and interesting story.I can’t quite give Barrayar top marks. As I said above, it occasionally disappointed me and doesn’t quite deliver everything I wish it could. Like Shards of Honour before it, however, and Cryoburn, which was my first Vorkosigan Saga experience, Barrayar demonstrates that Bujold can create compelling and fun stories. This was exactly what I needed to read during a very stressful week at work and after two somewhat more depressing novels. Barrayar isn’t exactly “light” in terms of subject matter, but it light in tone and not exactly the most challenging read. Sometimes, that’s all you need.My reviews of the Vorkosigan Saga:← Shards of Honour | The Warrior’s Apprentice →

  • C.T. Phipps
    2019-06-04 22:37

    Lois Bujold follows up Shards of Honor with a work that actually makes me feel the series could have been solely about Cordelia and her husband instead of their ill-fated son Miles. The pair is a contrasting one of equals that gets along splendidly because of their differences rather than in spite of them. I also like how their marriage is not portrayed as something which is smooth sailing from beginning to end--something any married person will say is true to life. Following her immigration to the world of Barrayar, Cordelia is adjusting to life among the aggressively abelist and chauvinist warrior society. Her Betan values and keen lead her to navigate better than many expect, though, and she quickly makes things working out better for those who have less advantages. Unfortunately, conflict is inevitable in this time of social change so she soon finds herself in the middle of a civil war. Worse, her own new family may be the biggest threat to her damaged (but wanted) unborn child.This is a book which really gets into the meat and drink of Barrayan culture and I like how Cordelia tries to improve it without getting horrified by it (despite how horrifying it sometimes may be). There's a lot more romance, cultural discussion, and contrasting values than I remembered when I first read it. This is mostly in the first half of the book, though, as the second is focused on a lengthy mission to rescue Cordelia's uterine replicator. The climax to that is one of the best moments in sci-fi fandom I've read.I will have to say it's interesting how the book stresses the importance of family even to the point of forgiving someone the unforgivable. Cordelia is a better person than I am since I would hate my father-in-law for all-eternity given the events of the book if not try to kill him myself. The fact Piotr suffers for his decision made in the book (based on Barrayan practices) doesn't absolve him of what he did, IMHO.This is a surprisingly light-hearted book despite the fact it deals with forced marriage, infanticide, honor killings, and cold-blooded revolution. I think it's because Cordelia is such a force of nature that even deeply embedded social norms of a decidedly toxic nature are just another challenge for our heroine to overcome. I also like how Aral always has her back and only rarely shows his dark side (and always to their enemies).I really liked this and have to strongly recommend it. I actually am going to be quite sad when we move from Cordelia to Miles.

  • Cathy (cathepsut)
    2019-06-08 01:52

    The third book in my chronological series read of the Vorkosigan Saga. Published as the 7th book of the series. All about Cordelia and Aral and complementing the story that started in Shards of Honor. Their early days on Barrayar, about family, politics, intrigue and war.This time I went for the kindle version, as I did not enjoy the first two audiobooks very much. The narrator came across as very old fashioned and it gave the previous two books a very dated feel. I am happy to report that I liked this much better. And if I should ever decide to re-read the first two books, it will certainly be in the printed version, not on audio. Apparently there is another narrator for the later books and if I should come across him, I might give him a try.Slow start, slow build-up, very nice world-building. Barrayar came to life quite nicely.Characterization are good, although I struggled at times to keep all these people apart, with their similar sounding family names. The relationship between Cordelia and Aral is kept very low key. Her struggles Piotr and the assembled Vor nobility were amusing to read though. I assume that I will not meet any of these characters again, at least for several books. I will miss Koudelka, Bothari and Droushnakovi.The action and adventure part of the plot towards the end of the book was entertaining and suspenseful. Especially once Cordelia had enough of male stupidity and went for it. Kick-ass, woman! I salute you!3.75 points, looking forward to the next book!

  • Jack +The Page Runner+
    2019-05-23 00:51

    While I had read Shards of Honor for a book club discussion (and enjoyed it immensely), Barrayar was something I wanted to read of my own volition. It wasn't up for discussion, even if we did toss out a few tidbits here and there, but I really wanted to see how the story of Cordelia and Aral progressed.Barrayar was written later on in Bujold's writing career, even though it's a direct sequel to Shards of Honor, and the jump in quality is immediately apparent. This is, in every way, a superior novel to Shards. Gone (mostly) is the ad-hoc way in which culture differences and socio-political hierarchies are explained. We now get more narrative about the why's and how's of the world in which this tale unfolds, which allows readers to get their bearings much more easily. This is especially important, as most of what unfolds in this novel has roots in political disagreements and the various factions vying for status. Also, the plotting and pacing are streamlined, and there's much more passion (and humor) in the written words. Side characters are given more to do and therefore and have a greater impact to the story as a whole.But the greatest beneficiaries of this second novel are Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan themselves. While they were well thought out, and well written, in the first book, Barrayar really lets them loose within the world they inhabit, and we get to learn more of who they are. We also get to see their relationship flourish into something deep and profound, but ultimately real. They aren't the "perfect" couple so many modern books try to sell us on. They fight and bicker, are at times petulant and selfish, and occasionally make mistakes in how they treat each other. But at the end of the day they love each other, understand each other, and are willing to sacrifice for each other (even if they don't always know exactly HOW to do this). So, basically, like most married couples I know, my own marriage included.Droushnakovi, Koudelka, and Bothari are all given expanded roles as well, and while they initially seem inserted just to help bring cultural issues front and center to the narrative (Drou and Kou at least), they soon become more integral to the story and less of, shall we say, convenient plot pieces. Bothari's arc surprised me the most, though I'm not sure if I'm 100% ok with just how well it all turned out. Still, if anyone needed some redemption, Bothari would be it.From my discussions with fellow book club members, I know that the REAL meat of the story is when Miles Vorkosigan takes center stage, so I would like at some point to return to this series. I've heard Miles described as the science fiction equivalent of Tyrion Lannister, so if that isn't enough to whet an appetite, I don't know what is! But, other book club selections await, so it may be a bit before I spend more time with the Vorkosigan family. But that shouldn't be a reflection on the quality of the story at all, as this is a great series.

  • Angela James
    2019-05-26 03:57

    Loved this--so much more than Shards of Honor. I felt it was much deeper and more dramatic, with a lot more emotional tension. In this one, I particularly warmed up to Cordelia and was glad to see her suffer both insecurities and doubts, go a little mad from all of the strain, but then also rise to her challenges.

  • Katie
    2019-06-10 23:36


  • Stuart
    2019-06-09 02:53

    Barrayar: An exciting mix of character studies, cultural clashes, parenting dilemmas and breathless intrigueI really enjoyed the first few MILES VORKOSIGAN books back when I was in high school over 20 years ago, but somehow managed to miss Barrayar in 1991 as I got very busy with classwork and college applications, etc.Now that the series has become so popular and extensive in the preceding decades, it’s fun to read one of the earliest installments, the story of Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith, two of the best characters in the military SF genre (admittedly not a niche I know very well), who in turn will give birth to Miles Vorkosigan, arguably one of the most beloved characters in the genre. This novel centers on the complex relationship between Aral and Cordelia, who upon returning to the militaristic planet of Barrayar end up become regent to the child emperor Gregor and Lady Vorkosigan, respectively. However, it is also about the origins of Miles, and though he only appears in a uterine replicator, much of the drama centers on his conception and battles over whether he should even be allowed to be born at all. I hadn’t realized that Barrayar won many of the top SF honors in 1992, but by that time Miles Vorkosigan had become a major franchise with a dedicated fan base, so much of the pleasures of this back-story lie in fans discovering details of events that are referred to throughout the series. Not to say that the story doesn’t stand alone - it’s first half is a careful cultural study of the clash between Cordelia’s liberal and egalitarian Betan values and the hierarchical, militaristic, and rigid Barrayaran culture, particularly the vicious scheming and internecine battles among its military aristocracy. In the second half, Bujold throws Cordelia and Aral into the thick of a struggle for power and with betrayals at every turn as the story turns into a thrilling, breathless series of fights, infiltrations, narrow escapes, shoot-outs, and emotionally-wrenching decisions. 
What makes Barrayar far more than a straight-up military SF adventure is that Cordelia is pregnant and much of the emotional weight of the story is driven by her and Aral’s conflicting thoughts on impending parenthood, which become even more wrenching when they narrowly survive a chemical weapon attack. Given the inflexible Barrayan military caste intolerant of any faults or defects, what kind of future would Miles have there if he were physically handicapped? In many ways, much of the story could be a 19th century Russian aristocratic drama with very few details changed. It’s a story of political intrigue, parenthood, culture clashes, and a very insightful and humanistic exploration of the military mentality, both its focus on discipline, loyalty, and lethal killing efficiency, and the psychological toll it takes on those who try to live by this code, particularly key supporting characters like Lieutenant Kudelka, female bodyguard Droushnakovi, and the mentally damaged Sergeant Bothari. As many reviewers have observed, Bujold is a master of characterization, and the enduring appeal of the entire series lies in the fact that she makes us care about her characters deeply, so that we are caught up in their lives and internal struggles, while at the same time being treated to engaging, carefully-plotted military SF adventures. It’s quite a unique combination, and explains the host of SF awards the series has garnered. The audiobooks are narrated by Grover Gardner, and it is good to have a consistent voice for the characters throughout the series.