When Cordelia Naismith and her survey crew are attacked by a renegade group from Barrayar, she is taken prisoner by Aral Vorkosigan, commander of the Barrayan ship that has been taken over by an ambitious and ruthless crew member. Aral and Cordelia survive countless mishaps while their mutual admiration and even stronger feelings emerge.
People have been trying to convince me for years to check out the Vorkosigan Saga by Bujold and I haven’t gotten around to it until now. I’m not sure if it’s just because, until the last couple of years, I’ve been more hesitant to pick up science fiction? Because I’ve read some of Bujold’s fantasy works and enjoyed them. Or maybe I just never found time to squeeze in a new series. Either way, I’ve rectified the situation and have now started this fan favorite series, woot!
I’ll be honest and say that this book felt very average for me, personally. When a book is average to me, I often find it tough to review! So let me just go into the things that I did like about it. The main character, Cordelia, is great. She’s capable, fantastic in a crisis, able to rescue herself (much to some people’s dismay), and able to adapt to changing situations. When her group of scientists comes under attack and the survivors are captured she’s cool under pressure while doing her best to figure a way out of the situation. Aral, on the other hand, feels at first to be very conservative compared to Cordelia. And yet, as the story moves on and we get to know him better we realize that he’s not the sum of his people, and in fact he is kind of a secret progressive such as things go within the context of his culture. And although I liked the characters and felt they are probably the best thing about the story, I did also have some issues being able to connect with them at some points. Sometimes things just felt dry or like the reader was put at a distance from things rather than being in the characters shoes.
Now, because this is Bujold, there is of course a bit of a romantic subplot. At one point near the beginning I was like ‘oh, is this just a romance novel?’ but later the story opens up a bit and it’s definitely about more than just the relationship between Cordelia and Aral. But still, the romance is a major point in the book, because this series is a family saga and we’re seeing the beginnings of things here. I thought the romance was handled well, too, although I wish there had been a little more….feeling put into it. Like, why are you being so matter of fact admitting things each other? Are you also going to seal things with a handshake? Ahahaha.
I didn’t really love the narrator for this in audio, it made everything feel so dry which I know is far from Bujold’s style of writing, so perhaps I would have had more fun with this book if I’d read it instead of listening to it. I don’t think the matter of fact narration did many favors for this story (or maybe it was just me, I can be picky). Or, maybe the style was different than what I’m used to since this is a bit of an older book. Like, there is one scene where a character decides, very matter of fact, to rape another character, and I was like ‘dafuq?’. And then things are handled just as matter of fact regarding the escape from said situation. Well, okay then. As far as other things go, the world building in this was pretty interesting if a bit black and white the way the two different cultures were painted. I really loved all the sci-fi space opera elements though. There’s some great action in this and lots of ordeals our protagonists have to navigate. And some politics of course!
Overall, there were things that I did enjoy about this book and I do plan to continue the series at some point, just to see where things go from here. 3.5/5 stars.