Cordelia Naismith is the captain of an astronomical survey ship from the peaceful Beta Colony. Lord Aral Vorkosigan is the leader of a secret military mission from the warlike planet Barrayar. 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.
Spoiler alert: They get married.
The title “Shards of Honor” refers to the small bits of honor that Aral must cling to as he finds himself a central figure in a massive undertaking that will sacrifice thousands of innocents for the greater good; it also refers to the honor that Cordelia herself gains and loses and gains again as her fate becomes increasingly intertwined with that of the unjustly infamous Aral – also known as “The Butcher of Komarr”.
So we have a romance interfering with a perfectly good space opera. Or is it a space opera interfering with a perfecting good romance? Either way, it felt a bit thinnish, probably because of the unlikely mashup. Well, it was written in 1991, if that means anything. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did, very much so.
This is the first in the massive Vorkosigan Saga, which currently numbers over 25 novels and short stories. I think I will stop at this one. I didn’t find it as compelling as Cherryh’s work.