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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga, #1) - Lois McMaster Bujold Be warned: the jacket blurb describes only a minor portion of the story. My version, you ask?*************************************************Love in the background of space opera! Female captain leads research team investigating exotic planet. Expedition is attacked and a researcher is killed. Hostile man takes woman prisoner, and they fall in love while death-marching across alien planet. Alas! Woman and man are soon to be adversaries in an interstellar war, and are torn apart by loyalties to their commands. Then woman volunteers to captain a near-suicide mission and is taken captive again, but this time by Marquis de Sade Junior. Will she escape? Will she reunite with her love? Will they overcome obscure political maneuvers and overzealous patriots to ultimately consummate their love?*************************************************Complete cheese, right? But it's American-style cheese that does so well melted and grilled into a comfort-food delight. Shards is not particularly subtle or unusual, but it manages to be an engaging read. While I can't say that I found the same sophistication and characterization that I read in [b:The Curse of Chalion|61886|The Curse of Chalion (Chalion, #1)|Lois McMaster Bujold|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1322571773s/61886.jpg|1129349], it still had melty goodness. For instance, there were vampire balloons and giant crabs--hard to go wrong there. Dialogue was engaging, and I find her writing style is a nice balance between world-building and action, and pleasantly sophisticated in wording and ideas. Her characters have nice flashes of humor in the midst of struggle. Plot wasn't particularly remarkable, but managed an unexpected twist or two. The first part of the book, the march across the alien world, was enjoyable, but I found the plot seriously disintegrating towards the end, especially when Cordelia's people start to suspect her of being brain-washed. She talks her way onto a freighter? And draws on enough funds to cross a galaxy despite being on the run? But we gloss over those challenges As an ship captain, Cordelia displays a surprising amount of both political knowledge and naivete, and she wasn't perhaps as fleshed out as Lord Vorkosigan, despite the story being told from her perspective. There's an interesting supporting role was given to a seriously mentally damaged soldier. I've been hearing that the Vorkosigan series is some of Bujold's best writing, and it turns out that this is a prequel centered on the meeting and connection of his parents. As such, it might be a little more oriented towards fans than new readers. For seriously good writing and world-building, I'd recommend her Curse/Paladin books.Fun line: "Koudelka puzzled over this attempted readjustment of his point of view, then let it bounce harmlessly off his impermeable habits of thought."Cross posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/shards-of-honor-by-lois-mcmaster-bujold/