Shards of Honor was Lois McMaster Bujold's first novel and it introduced the universe that came to host the multi-volume Verkosigan Saga. It is an interesting beginning because Miles Verkosigan, the main protragonist of that series, makes no appearance in the novel.

Shards of Honor tells the story of Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan, 2 commanders on opposite sides of an interplanetary war. Cordelia is an engineer exploring a new planet when she is captured by Aral, whose crew has just mutinied against him. Cordelia has heard stories of Aral's brutality; but he treats her with a dignity inconsistent with his reputation and she eventually discovers the stories about him are false.

Bujold shows a talent for storytelling and for creating memorable characters. The best character in Shards of Honor is Cordelia Naismith, who withstands the dangers of her crew, an attempted rape by an enemy officer, and conflicting feelings of loyalty to her home world and respect for her adversaries. Verkosigan is almost as complex. He is noble but his strong code of honor sometimes leads to killing in order to uphold that honor - even killing those on his own side. The villains of the story, such as Admiral Vorrutyer and Prince Serg are 1-dimensional and far less interesting, serving as backdrops to the relationship between Cordelia and Aral.

Shards of Honor is filled with political intrigue and action and heroics and betrayal.

And it's a love story.

And I enjoyed it.