by Lois McMaster Bujold
Cover Artist: Scott Murphy
Review by Steve Sawicki
NESFA Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781886778931
Date: 25 January 2012 List Price $26.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Cordelia and Aral have just been married and Aral has accepted Emperor Ezar's appointment as regent. It is a time of unrest and change and Cordelia has concerns about fitting into a society that is less advanced than her homeworld, Beta Colony. Barrayar is, in fact, just coming out of its industrial revolution. An event accelerated by contact with otherworldly technology and culture.
Aral has progressive notions, fed by Cordelia. Some on the planet think he's gone too far. Others think he's not going far enough. Either way those with power are more concerned with keeping what they have than with finding the right path. In the middle of it all are the people who will be in the right place at the right time for their actions to be pivotal. Which way they will turn is up in the air. And the future of Barrayar hangs in the balance.
This is the sequel to Shards of Honor and is the first generally available hardcover edition. While not really about Miles Vorkosigan, the book lays the groundwork for many of the underpinning events that shaped his life. It also introduces us to some of the characters who will later become more widely known and important in his life. Mostly, though, it fills a needed spot in Bujold's universe, making it fuller, deeper and more alive.
This is one of those unusual books in a series where regardless of how deeply you're already involved you can pick it up and it works. It's also a NESFA press offering and that alone is probably enough to go get it. They don't do bad books. In fact, if you love books just for themselves you should get this. And, if you are a fan of the Vorkosigan saga or of Bujold's writing then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy.