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Lois McMaster Bujold
Narrated by Grover Gardner, unabridged
Blackstone Audio, 11 hours, 41 minutes

Lois McMaster Bujold
Lois McMaster Bujold was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1949. She attended Ohio State and later worked as a pharmacy technician at the Ohio State University Hospitals. She has two children and now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her first novel, Shards of Honor, was completed in 1983 and published in 1986. Her first professional sale was a story in 1984 to Twilight Zone Magazine. Falling Free was her first Nebula Award. Since then she has won another Nebula, and 4 Hugo Awards.

Lois McMaster Bujold Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Sharing Knife: Beguilement and The Sharing Knife: Legacy
SF Site Review: The Miles Vorkosigan Saga
SF Site Review: Paladin of Souls
SF Site Review: The Curse of Chalion
SF Site Review: The Spirit Ring

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nicki Gerlach

Barrayar, the second book of the Vorkosigan Saga, begins almost immediately following the events of Shards of Honor. Cordelia Vorkosigan (née Naismith) has given up almost everything of her former life on Beta Colony to be with the man she loves. She's finding life on Barrayar somewhat hard to adjust to, however; its class and gender stratification, its emphasis on familial lineage and military might, and its lack of technological progress, all make the entire planet seem somewhat backwards to Cordelia's way of thinking. To make matters worse, Aral, her husband, has been unwillingly thrust into a position of vast political power: regent to the four-year-old emperor. Learning to navigate the currents of Barrayaran politics is challenging enough, but the planet is full of people who will not hesitate to use Cordelia -- and her unborn son -- as pawns in their plays for power.

I've yet to read anything by Bujold that I didn't thoroughly enjoy, and Barrayar is no exception. She seems equally at home writing fantasy and sci-fi, because what she's really writing isn't either: she's just writing wonderful, character-driven stories, dressed up in the trappings of the genre. Barrayar is actually less science-fiction-y than most, in large part due to the setting. Barrayaran society is roughly modeled on feudal Russia, and there are just as many horses and swords as there are aircars and nerve disruptor pistols. So, while the genre label might say sci-fi, it's actually really a family saga and political drama -- it's just set on another planet.

But the world-building, as good as it is, is not why I love Bujold's writing, and not why I loved this book. What I really love are Bujold's characters, and most of all, Cordelia. She is smart, practical, has a wicked sense of humor, and is made of stronger stuff than three of your typical literary heroines put together -- but still shows enough emotion and has enough flaws to make her feel real. Aral is equally wonderful, and most of the supporting cast are quite deftly drawn as well. I had less trouble keeping secondary characters straight in this book than I did in Shards of Honor, although there were still a lot of similar-sounding Vorkosigan surnames to keep track of, as they all seem to begin with the syllable, Vor.

The audiobook itself was very well done, although I still find it strange that they selected Grover Gardner to narrate a book that is told almost exclusively from a woman's point of view. All in all, though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and cannot wait for Blackstone to release the rest of the series. I'd certainly recommend Barrayar to just about anybody who appreciates a good character-driven story, whether or not they typically read science fiction. Actually, I'd recommend the whole series to just about anybody -- Barrayar follows closely on the heels of Shards of Honor, and not a lot of summary or explanation is provided, so they really should be read in order. But they're both such wonderful books that I don't think anybody should miss out on either one.

Copyright © 2010 Nicki Gerlach

Nicki Gerlach is a mad scientist by day and an avid reader the rest of the time.  More of her book reviews can be found at her blog,

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