This book won the 1992 Hugo and Locus Awards.
This is not the first time, nor even the second, I’ve read this action-packed and yet moving classic space opera novel. But I get something new out of it every time. Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan just might be one of my all-time favourite protagonists. You want strong female characters? She’s all over that, and yet she’s a middle-aged woman (not a little girl, thank the gods; for a change we actually have someone whose age is appropriate to the position she’s in doing the job,) a wife, and a joyously nurturing mother. She does literal battle with a whole planet to see that her son is born, despite assassins, a military coup, and a murderous grandfather who does not wish the dishonour of a “mutant” born into his proud, aristocratic family.
Aral, Cordelia’s husband, has suddenly found himself in the position of Regent to a boy emperor, while Cordelia, a Survey Captain from another world with a more gender-equal view, finds herself an aristocratic lady in a society where women have strictly circumscribed gender roles. The Regency is how they end up as targets in coups and assassination attempts, and Cordelia blatantly ignoring where possible, and bucking actively where she must, the Barrayaran society’s rules, is a constant source of consternation and joy. And there’s a scene near the end that I’m not going to describe because it will totally ruin it for you if you haven’t read it, but it firmly establishes Cordelia as one of the biggest badasses in space opera today.
I love this book, and I’m a big fan of this series. Check it out!