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Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Shards of Honor, Chapter 7

Last week, Cordelia and Aral ended their mutinies and went home This week, an unspecified but significant amount of time later, they’re at war. Once again, I have failed in my intention to review more than one chapter.

If you’d like to catch up on previous posts in the re-read, the index is here. At this time, the spoiler policy permits discussion of all books EXCEPT Gentlemen Jole and the Red Queen. Discussion of any and all revelations from or about that book should be whited out.

[Trigger warnings for threats, torture, and sexual violence]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Shards of Honor, Chapter 6

Last week, Aral proposed and while I think he meant it, I believe his intentions were complex and not entirely romantic. This week, everyone mutinies!

If you’d like to catch up on previous posts in the re-read, the index is here. At this time, the spoiler policy permits discussion of all books EXCEPT Gentlemen Jole and the Red Queen. Discussion of any and all revelations from that book should be whited out.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Shards of Honor, Chapter 5

Last week, we finished the wilderness hike and Aral regained his command. In chapter five, we get to know his ship, the General Vorkraft. The action here is brief, but the implications are mighty.

If you’d like to catch up on previous posts in the reread, the index is here. At this time, the spoiler policy permits discussion of all books EXCEPT Gentlemen Jole and the Red Queen. Discussion of any and all revelations from that book should be whited out.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Shards of Honor, Chapter 4

I started writing this blog post last Saturday, with the intention of covering chapters four through six of Shards of Honor. I was thinking of those chapters as a tidy little section with Aral regaining command and proposing marriage, quickly followed by two mutinies and Cordelia’s rescue.

It turns out that’s neither tidy nor little. Which is why this blog post only deals with chapter four.

If you’d like to catch up on previous posts in the re-read, the index is here. At this time, the spoiler policy permits discussion of all books EXCEPT Gentlemen Jole and the Red Queen. Discussion of any and all revelations from that book should be whited out.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Shards of Honor, Chapters 1-3

This week we start re-reading Shards of Honor! We’re tackling the book covers and chapters 1-3.

Now that we have a whole book worth of blog posts, it seems worth mentioning that, like all re-reads, this one has an index. If you’re tuning in late and want to catch up on Falling Free, posts are linked here. The spoiler policy for this reread was fairly uncomplicated when we didn’t have any Vorkosigans to discuss at all. Now that they have arrived, please remember that both the blog posts and the discussion threads are open to spoilers for all books except Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. Please white out any discussion of Gentlemen Jole until after Jole’s first appearance in The Vor Game.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Falling Free, Chapters 13-16

This is it—the final blog post in the Falling Free re-read! We’re going from chapters 13 through 16.

At the time of writing, your Vorkosigan re-read blogger is fueled by molasses cookies. And thus, gently sugar-high, we approach the Quaddies’ final leap through the wormhole to legal peril that will hopefully end in safe passage and freedom. But how do we get there?

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Falling Free, Chapters 9-12

Welcome back to the Vorkosigan reread!

Last week, three chapters seemed like too much. This week, I’m throwing myself headlong into the breach—falling free, as it were—as the Quaddies stage the Revolution. We’re tackling chapters 9-12. If you need to catch up on the reading, the blog post will still be here when you get back. Maybe a little further down the page. You can bookmark it, if you’re worried.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Falling Free Chapters 7 and 8

Welcome back to the Vorkosigan reread!

True confessions here people—the chapter announcements at the end of each post are a lie. I expected to do chapter 7 this week, but then realized that I had missed the chapter break between 7 and 8. And also the one between 8 and 9. Chapter 8 leaves a lot of loose ends, but chapter 9 was too much for this week. It’s next week! Along with chapter 10. Probably.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

A Horse-lover’s Guide to The Blue Sword

Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword was published in 1982. It’s a story about Imperialism; Fantasy Britain, known as Home, has conquered most of an area that I sort of think is Fantasy Iraq, and is staring across their border at the kingdom of Damar, which is more or less roughly Fantasy Iran (although it is a lot smaller and not notably Muslim). Damar is facing a threat of invasion from The North, which is an otherwise unnamed nation-like entity that I think of as Fantasy Afghanistan.

Our perspective on this complex and probably important geopolitical situation comes from 19-year-old Angharad Crewe. She has relocated from Home to Fort General Mundy, on the Damarian border following the deaths of both of her parents, because her brother, who is some kind of subaltern, is stationed there. Life and society at this military outpost on the border is basically just like you would think it would be if you’ve read all of Kipling’s poetry, not just “If,” The White Man’s Burden,” and maybe “Gunga Din.” That’s a lot of reading, and you don’t feel like doing that? Totally okay—now you know why I’m not reading Fellowship of the Ring. For those of you who think a Martini is just a beverage and don’t know what happened to the last of the Light Brigade, let me assure you that Kipling’s view of the British Empire was a celebration of all its problematic glory, with a couple of soap operas thrown in for good measure. Which is to say, The Blue Sword has plenty to offer readers who aren’t in it for the horses.

But it’s also a love story told in three horses.

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Falling Free, Chapter 4

Welcome back to the Vorkosigan reread!

At the end of chapter 3, Claire, Tony, and Andy were stowed away on a shuttle heading not for the nearest space station as they had planned, but for the planet Rodeo. Silver, distracting the pilot and expanding her collection of book discs, was unable to alert them to the schedule change. This week, things go badly for everyone…

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

A Horse-lovers’ Guide to The Hobbit

A certain degree of affection for Tolkien and his works is almost a geek shibboleth, so I’ve spent a fair amount of time feeling bad about my almost total indifference towards The Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday party, but absolutely could not tolerate the Mines of Moria, or whatever it was they had to trudge through for, like, ever to get to I don’t even know where because I gave up. I never even tried the rest of the trilogy. I thought the movies were OK, but kind of long. I don’t think this makes me a bad geek. I’ve read Diana Wynne Jones’s description of Tolkien as a lecturer at Oxford, and I don’t think I’m missing that much.

Out of respect for the traditions of my people, I have read The Hobbit, and read it to my children. It’s an enjoyable enough piece of light entertainment. I understand that the work has found an audience of devoted fans. But I am a reader with different priorities—and JRR Tolkien is almost unforgivably bad at horses. Tolkien will go on to do a better job with horses in later books: Samwise and Frodo named their ponies, and Frodo tries to rescue his from some trolls; Shadowfax is pretty cool; the Riders of Rohan seem like they would pass muster with the Pony Club. The Hobbit, however, is an equine abattoir. [Read more]

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Falling Free, Chapter 1

My first encounter with Lois McMaster Bujold was The Warrior’s Apprentice, which I read for the first time shortly before starting high school. As a young reader, my imagination was caught by Miles’ tenacity. But this is a universe much richer than the wild adventures of one small admiral could ever show. The Vorkosigan Saga now spans 16 novels and assorted short stories and novellas that hop between genres from space opera, to mystery, to romance. It spans ten planets and an asteroid belt (at least—I’m counting on my fingers, I might have missed a few). The common thread tying these stories together is biology. Biology happens at both an individual and a population level, and so does the Vorkosigan Saga. The stories that happen to Bujold’s characters often have impacts on the planetary and interplanetary level, and vice versa.

The longer the Vorkosigan Saga has gone on, the more reasons I have found to love it. I’m not alone—Lois McMaster Bujold has won more Hugo Awards for best novel than anyone but Robert Heinlein, three of them for novels in this series. I’m thrilled to be rereading it.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Birds Do It, Bees Do It: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

Victorian Britons were deeply culturally invested in the idea of mothers as “Angels In The Home,” providing a gentle moral example to their husbands and children. This fantasy proposed that women could act as agents of reform in the British Empire both despite and because of not having the right to own property or vote. Being deprived of legal and political rights excluded women from effective participation in the public sphere, the realm of all politics and business. But these public matters intruded into the private sphere of the household, and women’s concerns extended out of it. Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan would be appalled by Victorian Britain, and it would be in awe of her. In her career in Barrayar’s empire, Cordelia is intimately familiar with the darkest depths of the overlapping portions of the Venn diagram of public and private.

Lois McMaster Bujold’s announcement of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen gave rise to both excitement and trepidation, the last coming from readers who wanted more space opera from their Vorkosigans and less romance than other recent volumes in the series have offered. With due respect to readers who prefer public stories to private ones, or space battles to smooching, for Vorkosigans the categories are inextricably intertwined. In space opera, our heroes go to war. In romance, we get to see them come home. In Cordelia’s case, the space opera has had dramatic personal impacts, and the idea of coming home raises complicated questions. Where is home? What does it mean to go there?

[This is pretty romantic, though.]