Which Vorkosigan book to start with?

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
24,223
Location
Highlands
Miles Vorkosigan seems to be the key character in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series, so I'd like to read the novels that feature him.

However, the first few books, Falling Free, Shards of Honour, and Barrayar, don't appear to feature him as a main character - he only seems to come up in the book descriptions for The Warriors Apprentice onwards.

Would I be missing out if I looked to start with The Warriors Apprentice? Do I need to start with one of the earlier books to understand context properly?
 

TheDustyZebra

Unraveling
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2009
Messages
9,022
Location
Colorado
Not at all -- that's the way I generally recommend them. Falling Free is a side trip all its own, and Shards of Honor and Barrayar (combined into the book Cordelia's Honor) are the backstory, written after some of the Miles ones. You can absolutely start with Miles in The Warrior's Apprentice (combined with The Mountains of Mourning and The Vor Game in the book called Young Miles), and I consider that the best way to go. Once Miles has his hooks into you, you can go back at any time along the way and catch up on his parents and how Miles came to be. It's a very good book (or books), and I wouldn't let yourself be put off by the fact that Miles isn't exactly in it -- his parents are fantastic characters in their own right, and it's a great insight into the dynamics that come into play in the other books.
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
17,826
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
Have you gone all space opera on us, Brian? ;) :) I started with the Cordelia stories and it put me right of - now knowing the world better I love them.

You can start with Miles - the Warrior's Apprentice is good and work through them by order. Of them, I think Cetagandan is the weakest but it sets up events in later books so I'd bear with it. Once Mirror Dance and Brothers in Arms is reached, you sail through Memory into the Miles in love compendium, and those are the best five books in the series, imho.

Then, go back to Cordelia.

Oh, @TheDustyZebra - she has announced she's working on a new Cordelia book. Fangirl squeee.
 

TheDustyZebra

Unraveling
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2009
Messages
9,022
Location
Colorado
Oooh, we finally get to find out what's been going on out there on Sergyar all this time? :)
 

psikeyhackr

Physics is Phutile, Fiziks is Fundamental
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Messages
1,278
I usually suggest Cordelia's Honor which is really Shards of Honor and Barrayar in one book.

The curious thing about the Vorkosigan series is how Bujold creates the culture and how the culture creates Miles. If anything the problem for me is that I did not find Warrior's Apprentice to be that good. It was one of her first books from 1986. It was Barrayar (1991) that got me hooked on the series. In fact the first half of Shards of Honor is rather pedestrian in my opinion. It is as though you can watch Bujold become a better writer.

psik
 

JaimeRetief

...of the Mountain of Red Tape
Joined
Apr 28, 2015
Messages
177
You should start with the first book that deals with the Vorkosigans, which is Shards of Honor.
 

Bugg

A Lerxst in Wonderland
Joined
Aug 7, 2011
Messages
1,437
I started with the Cordelia's Honor omnibus and, whilst I thought Shards of Honor was just okay, I thought Barrayar was brilliant. Knowing about Miles's background before he appeared in the series added a lot of depth, for me at least.
 

psikeyhackr

Physics is Phutile, Fiziks is Fundamental
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Messages
1,278
I started with the Cordelia's Honor omnibus and, whilst I thought Shards of Honor was just okay, I thought Barrayar was brilliant.
Exactly! The first half of SoH was very pedestrian. Must have been all of the walking.

psik
 
Joined
May 7, 2016
Messages
80
I really like the Vorkosigan series as easy to read, complex, page-turning space opera.
I started with Mirror Dance, which I thought was brilliant. However, the rest of the series is a different kettle of fish, and I don't think Mirror Dance is a good reflection of the style of the series. I really like all the books, but Mirror Dance has a depth and compexity that I don't think is present in the others. Consequently, I would and wouldn't recommend MD as a starting point; it's a great book, but it's not the rest of the series.
I would start chronologically, with Shards of Honor. But then, I like my history in date order.
ABS
 

psikeyhackr

Physics is Phutile, Fiziks is Fundamental
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Messages
1,278

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
9,233
Location
Iowa
I am definitely in the minority, but I thought the books went downhill after Shards of Honor and Barrayar, both of which I loved. Eventually I could no longer stand Miles and gave up on the series all together.
 

psikeyhackr

Physics is Phutile, Fiziks is Fundamental
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Messages
1,278
the books went downhill after Shards of Honor and Barrayar, both of which I loved. Eventually I could no longer stand Miles
That is interesting. Of course Miles is not in those stories.

Where in the series did you stop?

psik
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
17,826
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
I am definitely in the minority, but I thought the books went downhill after Shards of Honor and Barrayar, both of which I loved. Eventually I could no longer stand Miles and gave up on the series all together.
You might enjoy the latest one, then - Captain Jole and the Red Queen, which is centred on Cordelia. Very reflective and different from the Miles stories.
 

psikeyhackr

Physics is Phutile, Fiziks is Fundamental
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Messages
1,278
You might enjoy the latest one, then - Captain Jole and the Red Queen, which is centred on Cordelia. Very reflective and different from the Miles stories.
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance is not about Miles either.

psik
 
Top