Review: Shards of Honour

Shards of Honour (Vorkosigan Saga, #1)Shards of Honour by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading through lots of recommendations, I chose Shards of Honour to introduce me to the Space Opera genre. Now that I’m done with the book, I feel confident to say that I’m a fan of the genre.

Shards of Honour has a lot of political drama, which I would normally find boring, but because the characters are so entwined and affected by the politics, I can deal with it.

Although the whole Vorkosigan saga takes place on distant planets and involves space ships and wormholes, it doesn’t feel like hard science fiction. I think part of it is because the author doesn’t get caught up with the technical details of space travel unless it’s integral to the plot.

The best thing about this novel, and this is what makes me want to read the rest of the series, is that the two main characters care about each other, but they’re not hormone-driven teenagers who make decisions through their genitals. Neither of them sacrifices their duty in the name of being together, which makes them both honorable in my eyes. The book has a fitting title.

Unfortunately, I have to knock this book down a star because of how it deals with rape. Sure, rape is inevitable in an all-out war when there are prisoners on both sides, but the author takes such a flippant attitude to it that I can’t help thinking the book is condoning it just because it’s something hard to prevent in a war. While it’s great to read a book with a strong female lead who doesn’t let her emotions towards some man get in the way of her job, the book took a huge step back in how little consequences there are regarding rape.

Overall, an enjoyable, quick read and I can tell there’s a lot of depth in the world-building and a lot of the politics side of the story is just set up for what’s to come. Writing was a bit clumsy in some parts, but I hear she gets better.

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