The hardest part about recommending Bujold to folks (beyond my tendency to over sell) is figuring out where to tell folks to start. Clearly with the Vorkosigan universe, but where? And whence? This occupied us much on the way home Saturday night, without resolution. And came up again this evening, so I thought I’d externalize the debate.

Shard’s of Honor/Cordelia’s Honor is a good place to start. It really is the beginning of the Miles story arc. It features Cordelia, one of my all time favorite literary characters, and Barrayar (aka the 2nd half of Cordelia’s Honor) floats well above its pulpy genre roots, and truly, distinctively sings.

Of course Warrior’s Apprentice is the easiest entry point, the first book in the series published (presumably because of its obvious and wider appeal), and is the first Miles book. In addition it was written after the first half of Cordelia’s Honor, but before the 2nd half, and it shows. (at least if you’ve read and read and read the text)

Some people would say start with Floating Free, which after all is the first choronologically in the universe. And frankly it loses something when set in a familiar universe, rather then a strange one. (after all if you already know what quaddies are, why spend 100 pages describing them?)

I tend to want to settle the issue by telling people

“the first time through the series, start with Warrior’s Apprentice, and the second time through start with Shard’s of Honor“.

At which point people’s eye glaze over. So I risk it, and hand them Cord’s Honor, and hope for the best.

And the problems continue!

After all, do you skip The Vor Game, which is the weakest book in the series, but also contians much of the key foundation for the rest of the Miles books. How about Cetaganda which chronologically comes after The Vor Game, but is written much later? (okay, that is an easy one, clearly Borders of Infinity should be read after Vor Game, followed either by Brothers in Arms (soso) on the first reading, or Cetaganda and Ethan of Athos on the 2nd reading.)

And do you power though the inevitable mid-series lag to get to the power houses of Mirror Dance, and Memory, shading into her master works, Komarr, and Civil Campaign. (consider not reading Civil Campaign until you’ve read most of the series more then once, or you’ll miss half of it)

(Of course I’ve been informed that some folks hate Memory, and loved Diplomatic Immunity which I’d tell you to pass on, and under no condition read without first reading Cetaganda.)

And where does Dreamweaver’s Dilemma fit in? (um, after you’ve read the series 5 times or so).

Useful to also be caught up on your Georgette Heyer, Dorothy Sayers, Jane Austin, Patrick O’Brian, William Shakespeare, Robert Heinlein, and Judith Butler. (not that you have to like all of them)

Anyone else ever sweated this one?