I've made a rather belated start on the Vorkosigan series (thanks to altariel for the reading list) and have just finished Cordelia's Honor, a double repackaging of her Shards of Honor and Barrayar. I've enjoyed them both, with a few small reservations.
I love Aral and Cordelia, and the other characters, esp Bothari (a complex personality in his own right), Kou, Drou, and even thatold bastard Piotr. I think I liked the first book best though, despite the writing not being as polished. My only reservation there (apart from a touch of said-phobia) was Aral falling for Cordelia at first sight--while she vomited--whereas it was much more believable that his 'dear captain' would win his heart quickly enough with her bravery and wit during their trek across country.
The second book had--not again--that tired old SF cliché, the sexist society. At least the characters rise above it though, being intelligent, independent, and very individual. I do look forward to reading more about them, although I have to say that there was far too much about reproduction in this book. I see, reading Bujold's afterword, that she's more than a little obsessed. To quote:
The birth of a child is the proper climax, after all, to any romance that starts out "boy meets girl" if the romance is not falsely truncated.No, it is not. Some of us are very happy with a companion, friend, and lover to share our lives with without any need to pass on our bad genes, thank you very much for the insult. Even the damaged Dubauer was written as a '180-pound one-year-old' so they could 'scope each other out as future parents'. :-(
That said, the characters were still compelling and when Cordelia finally went into action, I was cheering her along (though even then, Bujold had to squeeze a gratuitous birth in). I thought she'd been weakened and marginalised like Jenna and Cally, but no: she still had plenty of fire and steel. ;-)
On with anticipation to the next; I've ordered Brothers in Arms from the library.