Here be Dragons

Warning:  The following review contains spoilers.  Not really for the book, but for everything else you may be interested in.

I will keep this short, because I honestly don’t think there are many people left that need to be told to read Bujold.  If any of you are in fact one of those people, there here it is.  Go read Bujold.  Like, right now.  Because if you don’t I will start spoiling everything else your reading and/or watching.  Because Bujold is bloody amazing, and even in ‘Shards of Honor,’ her first book, that talent was showing itself strong.
Damn it I said go read Bujold!  Snape killed Dumbledore, don’t say you were not warned.

I like my Martini’s light on vermouth, and I like my Science fiction light on science.  I made a perfect gin martini last night, and over twenty years ago Bujold wrote a book that was so light on science it could have been a fantasy book.  I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed both of them.  Like many a good fantasy novel the readers are dropped into the middle of the story with no background.  It says something about the craftsmanship of the author whether drops like this confuse a reader or excite them; in ‘Shards of Honor’ I was turning pages at a record pace.  I am counting this as a win.

Why are you still not reading Bujold?  Ok, you asked for it; the fight club is all in his head.  Ya, all of it, you don’t talk about it because it doesn’t exist. 

Everyone says that Bujold is one of the best at creating deep, realistic characters and also excels at having them interact.  In this case everyone seems to be right.  Loved Captain Cordelia Naismith, a rare middle aged woman in speculative fiction.  She is in no way defined by her age, still a well-respected and capable leader who is beloved by her crew.  With a strong sense of honor and the ability to think quickly I was always happy to see her decisions and how they played out.  I enjoyed Aral Vorkosigan a bit less, he was a bit too perfect.  But I will admit that while he may play the strait arrow a bit too much he was no Gary Stu; he makes very real mistakes and it costs both him as his men.

Sigh.  Really, you don’t think I see the magazine sticking out under the book?  Leah is his sister.  Ya, rethink that kiss now.  And read Bujold.

I was also impressed by the tension built in the book, both from danger and the romance.  The romance had a feel of being inevitable, but was still entertaining.  The dangers the characters go through on the other hand felt very real.  Naismith’s run in with a truly evil admiral would have been flat out bad in the hands of a less capable author, but her show of outward cool contrasted with her inner fears was well done.  A minor character with some major mental health issues was also intriguing.  There can be no doubt he did some horrible things, yet how much of it was as the result of others using his illness?  For the most part he acted within his own set of honor, and was genuine when guided by the right hands.

Oh for god’s sake.  You just don’t learn do you?  Old Yeller, the dog in Stone Fox, both dogs in Where the Red Fern Grows… all of them died. 

The best part of the book to me was when Naismith is assumed to be under some kind of reconditioning.  Part of me wishes Bujold would have made a whole book of this; Naismith not really knowing which of her memories were real, what to believe, unsure of her love.  But I suppose others have already done this, so I will be happy with the book I got instead.

Kint is Kayser Söze .  Don’t pretend you don’t know why I told you, I think by now you got the pattern.

As a first book this was impressive.  A bit rough compared to the fantasy I have read by the author, there were some rough timeline jumps.  They didn’t affect the story, and a case could be made that they helped avoid a lot of extra bloat, but they were abrupt and were the only time I had to reset my brain in the book.  Having started on Bujold’s fantasy I was very happy that this wasn’t a complete change of style; it was still a fast moving, smart plot based around a small cast of interesting and capable characters.  What more can I want?

Did I mention that everyone who considers themselves to be a fan of the genre should read Bujold?

4 stars


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