Shards of Honor

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I heard good things … somewhere … about Lois McMaster Bujold's "Vorsokigan Saga". This book was billed as #1 (of 16) in the series, the Kindle version was relatively cheap, so:

Bottom line: not my cup of tea. It's billed as a "science fiction romance", which might have been a red flag if I'd been willing to pay attention to it.

In the future, humans occupy numerous star systems, but they're always on the look for more. Unfortunately, they've also splintered into warring factions, each with its governing system (the ones described in detail here are lousy) and cultural oddities.

Cordelia Naismith leads a survey team from Beta Colony checking out a new planet, when—darn!—her crew's site is attacked by a strike force from Barrayar, led by the mysterious Aral Vorkosigan. As it happens, Vorkosigan is betrayed by his own side, leaving him, Cordelia, and an injured Betan crewman to hike 200 peril-filled kilometers to a Barrayaran encampment to set things right.

Wouldn't you know it, during this trek Cordelia and Vorkosigan develop a grudging respect. And yes, it eventually turns gooey. This doesn't end the peril for either.

There is a lot of political intrigue, painstakingly described. Most of which I found boring. (Hey, we've got plenty of that in the Summer of 2024 USA.) Other than a few violent encounters, there's a lot of talking.