Cordelia’s honor is sci-fi with a strong female character. And not strong in that she kicks physical butt, but she is intelligent, brave and caring. She invests in the relationships of those around her and she is both a strong leader and a brilliant second in command. (Please take a second to watch this brilliant youtube video about the importance of the first follower as illustrated through drunken dance).
And then Captain Cordelia Naismith finds herself stranded in an ambush on an unknown planet. She was the leader of an Astronomical Survey team from her home planet of the Beta Colony, now she is the prisoner of a man known as the Butcher of Komarr, Lord Aral Vorkosigan of Barrayar. He has suffered mutiny and is almost as stranded as she is. They manage to fall in love while traversing the planet looking for supplies. Long story short (don’t you just hate people who use that phrase?) Cordelia is rescued, returns to her home planet only to take off in an elaborate escape to be with the man she loves.
Then she is on Barrayar. No longer the the Captain of a battalion (is that the right military word? Eh, who cares) but second in command to a Lord who, when the emperor dies, becomes regent and plunges them into a heap of political trouble.
It’s got it all; action, drama, star crossed lovers, complex political plots and two advanced societies that in their competition manage to highlight everything that is wrong with the world today.
I wanted to love this novel. Unfortunately it had some issues that degrades it to a mere like. But a like-like. I like-like this novel, but you know, love is icky and for grown ups. So let me here say: it’s a wonderful book, you should read it and be greatly entertained. That’s it, you can leave now; from here on only ranting will take place.
- The cover. A part of me did actually love the campy cover art, reminiscent of some horrible sub genre of a pulp novel. It just did not do any sort of justice to intricacy of plot and the well-crafted and diverse people within. I mean it was kinda like some sort of vampy space-porn and didn’t really lend itself to be read where people could see it and not know that Cordelia wasn’t actually a space slave bedding the men of power and using their secret to take down an empire. Well I might’ve read a book like that. Just not in public, y’know.
- Look. She was supposed to be pregnant at some point? She came from a world where in vivo pregnancies were exceedingly rare and both she and the reader routinely forget that she is pregnant. It hardly changes her or colors her outlook of the world. And when the life of her child is in danger? I just didn’t feel the love.
- The whole rape thing. Look. Barrayar is supposed to be super primitive and I get that. Okay bear with me through the soap here: Drou is in love with Kou. She seduces him one night, but then stuff happens and they don’t have a chance to “follow up”, so to speak. Long story short (yeah, sorry) he ends up thinking he raped her. Like holy balls, that was the story line??? And Cordelia and Aral basically laugh at it afterwards? There had been some things before trying to show that Cordelia was progressed on gender issues compared to the people of Barrayar and it just fell flat multiple times. But when Drou and Kou got fucking married EVEN THOUGH HE THOUGHT HE RAPED HER?? Damn, girl.
Okay, just 3 things, not that bad. But really the gender thing was kind of pervasive and weird and didn’t quite work. But the inclusion of cool themes like friendship, motherhood and a functional normal marriage, issues that are often cast aside in space-war novels, redeemed it greatly. If you’re not reading it to review it, and have a summer afternoon in the sun to fully suck the marrow out of; then this is the book you should be reading.
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