Monday 24 February 2014

The Vorkosigan Saga Reading Order

As I'm making my way through Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, I've run afoul a few times of fact that the chronological, publication and reading orders of the series seem to all differ from one another. So I thought it might be useful to put up the differing lists here to help others planning to read the books.

The cover art for Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, the most recent-published novel in the saga.

Chronological Order

The chronological order is fairly straightforward, though not necessarily the best reading order (that would be omnibus order, posted below).

'Dreamweaver's Dilemma' (short story, set many centuries Before Miles's birth)
Falling Free (200 BM)
Shards of Honor (2-1 BM)
'Aftermaths' (2-1 BM)
Barrayar (1-0 BM)
The Warrior's Apprentice (17th year of  Miles Vorkosigan's life)
'Mountains of Mourning' (20 MV)
The Vor Game (20 MV)
Cetaganda (22 MV)
Ethan of Athos (22 MV)
'Labyrinth' (23 MV)
'Borders of Infinity' (novella version) (24 MV)
Brothers in Arms (24 MV)
Borders of Infinity (framing story) (25 MV)
Mirror Dance (28 MV)
Memory (29-30 MV)
Komarr (30 MV)
A Civil Campaign (30 MV)
'Winterfair Gifts' (31 MV)
Diplomatic Immunity (32 MV)
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (35 MV)
Cryoburn (39 MV)
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (42 MV)

Ideal reading order by omnibus

This is the easiest, cheapest and best-recommended way of reading the series, a couple of oddities aside. 'Labyrinth' appears twice for some reason and Falling Free (the earliest-set novel) is thrown rather randomly into the middle of the series, but beyond that it's fairly straightforward. It should be noted that Captain Vorpatril's AllianceCryoburn and Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen are only available as single novels at the moment, although it is assumed that at some point in the future Baen will collect them together. Memory will apparently remain a stand-alone novel due to its position as the biggest gamechanger in the series to date and the thematic awkwardness of combining it with other works.

Cordelia's Honour (Shards of Honour, 'Aftermaths', Barrayar)
Young Miles (The Warrior's Apprentice, 'The Mountains of Mourning', The Vor Game)
Miles, Mystery and Mayhem (Cetaganda, Ethan of Athos, 'Labyrinth')
Miles Errant ('Borders of Infinity', Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance)
Memory (not part of an omnibus)
Miles in Love (Komarr, A Civil Campaign, 'Winterfair Gifts')
 Miles, Mutants and Microbes (Falling Free, 'Labyrinth', Diplomatic Immunity)
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (not yet part of an omnibus)
Cryoburn (not yet part of an omnibus)
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (not yet part of any omnibus)

Publication order

Publication order sort-of works - it's the order that Bujold wrote the stories in, after all - but she jumps back and forth in Miles's life fairly randomly. Those who prefer a chronological progression are directed to the reading order by omnibus, but publication order works for those who prefer to read the books in - more or less (Barrayar was half-written as the continuation of Shards of Honour, abandoned for several years, and then completed) - the order the author wrote them.

'Aftermaths' (Spring 1986)
Shards of Honour (June 1986)
The Warrior's Apprentice (August 1986)
Ethan of Athos (December 1986)
Falling Free (serialised in December 1987-February 1988, in Analog)
Brothers in Arms (January 1989)
'The Mountains of Mourning' (May 1989)
'Labyrinth' (August 1989, in Analog)
Borders of Infinity (October 1989)
'Weatherman' (February 1990, in Analog, later integrated as the opening of The Vor Game)
The Vor Game (September 1990)
Barrayar (serialised July-September 1991, in Analog)
Mirror Dance (1994)
Cetaganda (October-December 1995)
'Dreamweaver's Dilemma' (February 1996, in Dreamweaver's Dilemma)
Memory (October 1996)
Komarr (June 1998)
A Civil Campaign (September 1999)
Diplomatic Immunity (May 2002)
'Winterfair Gifts' (February 2004, in the Irresistible Forces anthology)
Cryoburn (October 2010)
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (November 2012)
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (February 2016)

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Paul Weimer said...

>>Memory will apparently remain a stand-alone novel due to its position as the biggest gamechanger in the series to date and the thematic awkwardness of combining it with other works>>

I wondered why it hadn't fallen into one of the other omnibus editions at this point. The point is well taken.

I wonder, given what happens in Cryoburn, if that won't "Standalone" too.

Joe said...

Or, you can do as I completely randomly did and read Barrayar first. Surprisingly, it works just fine (though it might not be ideal)

I just finished and wrote about that one on Friday, so it's fun to see you also in the middle of a series read and posting about it.

Olaf said...

Makes me want to start a re-read immedeately:-)

Tim Campbell said...

Thanks for the list, super useful. I'm re-listening to Grover Gardner performing the entire series... one of my all time favorite narrators reading one of my all time favorite series. Thanks again!

JSMartin said...

I just finished re-reading all the books in this order. Thanks!

Team Bald said...

How about Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen? :o)

Adam Whitehead said...

It wasn't out when I wrote this. But fairly straightforwardly, it follows on from Cryoburn.

~ InterWeave ~ said...

Thanks for posting this sequence. Very useful!