Shards of Honour is a space opera about the relationship between Vorkosigan, a military general and Naismith, a biologist. The relationship develops in the context of a clash between their two different human civilisations. Vorkosigan comes from a Machiavellian absolute monarchy with a utilitarian outlook. Naismith comes from a democratic society that can verge on the anarchic at times.

Naismith is the protagonist of the novel but doesn’t seem as well developed as Vorkosigan. Vorkosigan starts off as a mysterious soldier and develops through the novel.

The plot starts with a journey through a vividly described planet and accelerates quickly afterwards. The plot isn’t stellar and as a whole is predictable from an early point. world but it is reasonable. There were not too many action parts but what was there was well done.

The world that Bujold has built is really interesting, there are multiple civilisations at war with their own philosophies. The description of the planet and fauna in the first half of the book is particularly imaginatively done.

Despite my criticism, the novel is engaging and the world building has me looking forward to reading the other novels in the series.