This is the first official review of the audio version of Shards of Honor which was published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
This classy little publishing company is once again offering a fine production with the considerable help of the talented performing team of Carol Cowan and Michael Hanson. This time, the two are functioning as star-crossed lovers in the stars. They portray Cordelia Naismith of Beta Colony and Aral Vorkosigan of the planet Barrayar.
Naismith is a scientist in a place that seems to represent a democratic form of government. Unfortunately, it misses the ideal by a field goal that goes wide of the mark. For example, its top elected official talks a good game but is more snake oil salesman than statesman. Still, Beta Colony sounds somewhat better than Vorkosigan's world, which is kind of an unsettled feudal society ruled by an aging emperor. It is a state in which Vorkosigan is an aristocrat and a member of the warrior caste.
In spite of the implied despotism of Barrayar, it is rife with Byzantine political dissension, and seeks to cure its inner turmoil by a war of expansion, something that Vorkosigan opposes. Still, being a military lifer, he has no option other than to participate once the fighting begins.
The war of expansion is not against Beta Colony, but one of its allies, but the result is the same. It puts a crimp in the Naismith-Vorkosigan romance. Then when Naismith is captured by the depraved admiral leading the Barrayaran invasion fleet, things change drastically for the lovers, whose affair was always restrained at best.
As a science fiction tale, this is not as imaginative as the author's "Falling Free." Nevertheless, the characters are well-developed and believable, making the account highly listenable. I especially enjoyed the beginning when Naismith and Vorkosigan meet after being abandoned on an uncolonized planet and then have to depend on each other for survival in a hostile environment.
This review was written by Dick Richmond. It was published on April 6, 1997 in the Sunday St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Everything that appears in the Post-Dispatch is copyrighted by the Pulitzer Publishing Co. Dick Richmond has given permission to post this.
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© 1996 by Dick Richmond
Added to The Bujold Nexus: April 7th 1996
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