Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga)
Barrayarans were Captain Cordelia Naismith’s enemies in the Cetagandan war. She married her former foe, emigrated to Barrayar, and does not know if the hostilities have truly ended.
I have to say this story contains more conflict, on more levels, than any writing I’ve ever read.
Constrained by the near-medieval legal and social situations on her new world, Cordelia is often foiled in her desires to liberalize a gender-biased system.
Aral Vorkosigan, her husband and intent lover, finds himself attending the death of the elderly emperor Ezar, and has the regency foisted upon him. This introduces great danger to the new family.
That family includes the disruptor-maimed Lt. Koudelka, Aral’s secretary, and, with the regency, the redoubtable Kareen Droushnakovi, bodyguard for Cordelia and formerly of the minor Emperor Gregor.
Family dynamics become taut with Cordelia’s pregnancy; an assassination attempt upon Aral leaves Cordelia terrified.
Add Koudelka’s uncertainty of his manhood post-damage and his attraction to Kareen to ratchet up tension and sympathies.
Another assassination attempt involves Cordelia and her unborn. Subsequent espionage by General Piotr Vorkosigan twists the family and Cordelia unmercifully. There is escape from revolution, backcountry flight, medical calamity, hostages to fortune dangled over various abysses.
Prepare to be gripped!
Lois McMaster Bujold