I first read it in 1996 when I was still quite in love with the SF-genre (I still am, but the parameters now are quite different...).
Just to state that I have a history with SF dating back to the 80's.
Why did I started reading SF? I don’t really know. I was always fascinated by everything science-related, ie, where I could learn about science. Maybe that’s why I went into SF, where the plot is often the driving force, where the intricacies of world building really start to matter and add up.
Let’s not get sidetracked. Shards of Honor is the book worst of the series. Unfortunately it's the first in the series. At the time I remember thinking whether it was worth reading the rest of the series available then. I just have one piece of advice, for what it’s worth. Hang in there. What's comes afterwards (Barrayar, etc) is not exactly high-octane prose, but it's quite above par SF-wise.
My reading it again, was in part provoked by a recent review by Head-in-the-Clouds. I was just plain curious whether the book withstood the usual test of time...
I've started digging up all of my ancient SF paperbacks from over yonder and all of a sudden I had Shards of Honor in my hands... Time to give it another go (I've "found" as well "Attack From Atlantis" by Lester Del Rey... It's up next).
The book starts off well enough, with an adventure storyline featuring two people abandoned on a planet and having to work together to survive. So far so good. Things started going downhill when the sequences between these two characters were indifferently written. There's no real chemistry between them. I got the feeling Bujold was trying to get something out of the book that in the end didn't quite work out as planned.
This is quite a good example of bad old-school SF: stodgy prose, mechanical dialogue and somewhat stilted character reactions. All of this does not add up to a particularly exciting book.
Despite the fact that it's plagued throughout by mediocre sci-fi clichés, boy meets girl on alien planet, trashy romance, etc., it still has a very interesting twist at the end that sets up Barrayar, which is the first really above-average book in the Vorkosigan series.