[LMB] : Which Vorkosigan book to start someone on?

Paula Lieberman paal at gis.net
Sat Apr 11 14:52:11 BST 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "kerry weisselberg" <kerilli at gmail.com>

> I'm sure this has been discussed before, but which book did people read
> initially, which is your absolute favourite, and which would you recommend
> for starters?
> I started with The Warrior's Apprentice (can't remember why!) and was
> instantly hooked, but I'm not sure that it is definitely the best place to
> start a newcomer to Bujold.

I think it depends on the person...  I put ACC aside at the dinner party 
from hell scene.  Domestic life on Barrayar of people I met when they were 
out adventuring in space and who aren't facing Excitement other than their 
own social incompetence and emotional angst about Relationship Stuff, doesn 
nothing positive for me.  (I -hate- being put into characters heads who are 
obsessing with Relationship stuff and getting essentially an emotional or 
Personal View expository lump.... worse than the scientific and/or 
historical expository lumpdom that for some people makes SF full of such 
expository lumps  unreadable, and for others is an attractant).

Someone who likes the Personal, Intimate View of being in characters heads 
and treated as if the reader is burrowed into the character's brain and 
feeling directly and interpreting as the character interprets, and who 
enjoys embarrassing emotional soap opera of the character going into social 
disaster the way Mile did in ACC with wide open blind eyes that the reader 
SEES the trainwreck approaching and it is NOT being played up as a farce in 
the writing point of view*, up close and personal in books, likely would 
find ACC a good starting point--as opposed to me who found it a morass and 
the sort of social embarrassment that I don't want ANYTHING to do with, 
particular not one TELEGRAPHED that I'm not being treated as an -outside- 
observer allowed to be distanced from.  If it happened to characters I 
wasn't expected to be emotionally invested in, it wouldn't have 
bothered/annoyed me the way it did.  But it wasn't being treated as fluff 
farce, but as a key element of the story, and one not skippable (there was a 
chapter I skipped over in The Lives of Christopher Chant--it wasn't one that 
I really intentionally skipped over, but I skipped over it nonetheless--and 
when I realized what had happened in the chapter and the descriptions and 
scenes I had missed, I was grateful--because that chapter would have caused 
to me stop reading the book and made it unreadable for me.  It was a chapter 
in which Very Bad Things apparently happened, to a particular 
culture/society, that wasn't Christopher Chant's native culture and society 
and not his relatives etc.  But it was a culture/society and characters that 
emotionally I was emotionally more attuned to than to the lead character and 
his milieu, and having to read the scenes of its demise... that would have 
flatlined the appeal of the book to me/flatlined my interest in continuing 
reading the book).

* There are writers who use farcial tones who could probably pull off such 
scenes without me closing the book and shoving it aside--probably Katie 
McAlister in the universe which includes You Slay Me and at least six other 
books, one of which is a mystery, in which the author CHEATS!  The author 
CHEATED!!! but managed to write the book in such a way that even though the 
author cheated, I didn;t feel all that ticked off about it, it was that 
style of writing, where the tone lacked that flat narrative descriptive 
style of impartial narrator, but instead has an idiosyncratic rather breezy 
first person narrator, with things the first person narrator was ambivalent 
at best about and reluctant to open up or be forthcoming with.

Getting back to which Bujold to start with -- there are actually people out 
there who dislike Miles!  The Warrior's Apprentice  wouldn't work for them, 
at all!

The Sharing Knife books might work best for romance readers, and for people 
who like more "realistic" fiction who're from the Midwest--the familiarity 
of the geography could help a lot there....

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