Book Review: Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

I started Cordelia’s Honor (Science Fiction 590 pages) by Lois McMaster Bujold a while ago and finally finished it today.

I was really excited about this book. I’m on a big science fiction kick these days, as the current project that I’m working on is a science fiction story. My current story starts in a similar place to this story, so I was extra excited about it because it dealt with a scientific team conducting an initial survey on a new planet. Things on the planet go terribly wrong and the first 170 pages of the book are absolutely fascinating, combining really interesting survival and hostage situations.

And then I made the mistake of reading the back of the book. This kind of ruined the entire middle of the story for me because I knew how things went for Cordelia and Aral. This ruined the element of suspense for me and I really struggled to find the emotional implications of this story. Having read the back of the book, I didn’t feel the emotional connection between the characters the way I usually do when I have no idea what’s going on with the story.

The section when Cordelia returns home to Beta Colony is genuinely frightening. After everything she’s been through, she gets worse treatment from her own people than she did when she was captured and a prisoner. The reason that Beta Colony is such a genuinely frightening portrayal is because of the idea that people can just come into someone’s life, decide they’ve had mind-manipulation of some sort, and then create the very problems that the doctors are supposed to prevent or treat. I almost felt myself going a little crazy myself during this section of the book, and that’s kind of saying something.

I also struggled with the names in the book. So very many “V” names involved in the Barrayaran culture that sometimes I didn’t know who the characters were or what their relationship was to each other or the other characters in the story. And I didn’t really care enough about any of them (except Aral) to do the research to remind myself as to who was who.

There was something about Cordelia’s character that just bothered me on some levels. If she was used to being a Captain on a space vessel, I would have thought that she wouldn’t have embraced a world without control so extensively. She gives up everything she’d worked so hard for during her entire life, her career, her ship, everything, and never seems to miss traveling the stars. Nor does she have any problems with just doing what she’s told. She doesn’t seem to miss her old life at all and that strikes me as very odd. Every now and then, she demonstrates this keen military mind and extremely competent leadership, but it’s almost like she has an on/off switch and it’s conveniently timed. And sometimes her thoughts seem rather disjointed. She thinks about appropriate attire for Gregor or other random thoughts about adequate parenting that she has no real basis of understanding for. It was kind of jarring.

The story really picked up again towards the end and there were some really great sections around page 534 about life in general. It’s about how relationships hurt and that when you really do love someone that you will wind up hurting each other, even though you love each other dearly. But the point is that love is worth it. Love is worth everything. It’s going to hurt sometimes, but it’s always worth it.

Overall, I’d say that this book is about a three on my rating scale. Reading the back of the book really ruined a lot for me and I think I’d rate the book a bit higher if I hadn’t read the back of the book. I enjoyed the book and I’m glad that I read it.

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About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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