The chronological sequel to ‘Shards of Honor’ follows Cordelia Naismith as she defects from Beta, in order to make her way to Barrayar and find her former captor Aral Vorkosigan – a man she has come to love and respect.
It’s not incomprehensible that her Betan psychologists assume that she must be suffering from something like Stockholm syndrome, or some more insidious mental conditioning. The suspicion cast on her means that even though the war between Beta and Barrayar is technically over, Cordelia must leave the familiar comforts of home behind and give herself fully to her new life on primitive, violent, militaristic Barrayar. Nearly immediately she finds herself plunged into the dizzying complexity of the upper levels of Barrayaran politics, as Aral discovers that the peaceful retirement he’d been planning is not in the cards for him. And that’s not the only sudden change: Cordelia is pregnant.
If you’ve read later books in this series, a great deal of this book is a lot of tension waiting for certain events that you’ve already read about, to happen. It’s intentional on the author’s part – this book involves her backtracking and filling in details about events that have already been referred to in other books. I think it would be an equally enjoyable, although different, experience to read it without already having been introduced to Miles and knowing the difficulties and circumstances surrounding his birth.