Lois McMaster Bujold
Barrayar (1991)
Winner of the 1992 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
Reviewed: 1996-02-26

This immediate sequel to Shards of Honor continues the history of Cordelia Naismith, now Lady Vorkosigan, and Aral Vorkosigan, now Regent to the Emperor. Slowly adopting to the bewildering social customs of Barrayar, Cordelia expects to settle down for the quiet life as a Vor lady. But Barrayar has its own rules. A poison gas attack aimed at Aral necessitates the transfer or their unborn son Miles to a uterine replicator. A subsequent palace coup by a renegade Vor lord marks the outbreak of civil war on the planet. Taking along five-year old child Emperor Gregor, who is at the center of the battle for power, Cordelia must flee to the mountains of the Barrayaran backcountry while Aral and the forces loyal to him organize the resistance. A commando raid led by Cordelia against all odds to liberate her unborn son held hostage turns into a fatal strike to the heart of the rebellion.

There are no great new ideas or concepts in Barrayar. In fact, with some small changes the novel could have been written along a contemporary or historical setting. So why was it awarded a Hugo? Barrayar is extremely well written, from front to back. It is driven by its extraordinary characterization. A very engaging drama, an epic tale, presented with deft humor and perfect pacing by a master story teller. The characters burst into life. Impossible to put down. Certainly a readers' favorite.

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