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Bujold, Lois M.
SHARDS OF HONOR [av]
Shards of Honor - Commander Cordelia Naismith is from Beta Colony, and leads an Astronomical Survey mission to a newly discovered planet. While out in the field with Ensign Dubauer, the Survey camp is attacked by militaristic Barrayarans (who had found the planet first.) Most of her crew escapes, but she is left behind and later captured, and Dubauer injured. To her dismay, her captor is Aral Vorkosigan, the "Butcher of Komarr." Vorkosigan is the victim himself of a politically inspired mutiny, and needs to get to a weapons cache to re-establish control over the situation. On a forced-march of 200 kilometers, Aral and Cordelia end up exchanging confidences, and even, perhaps, falling in love. In the confusion of Aral's breaking of the mutiny, Cordelia makes her escape, bearing with her the knowledge that Barrayar may intend to use the newly discovered wormhole-route to invade Escobar - an ally of Beta Colony.
When we next meet Cordelia, she is part of the Betan Expeditionary Force, captain of a throwaway ship on a mission of deception. As expected, she is captured, but this time by the sadist Vorrutyer, Co-commander of the Barrayaran armada. Aral had described him indirectly, as "an infection of the imagination, that spreads from man to man... worst when it spreads from the top down." Cordelia discovers deception within deception, treachery within treachery, and rescue from an unhoped-for source. She finds her sympathies going more toward her enemies, and dissatisfaction with her own government, even after Beta Colony wins and she is released and returned home at the head of a victory parade. Finally she follows her heart. [After I realized that I had read this 10 times, I put it on my "top 10" favorites list. I've left a fair amount out of my summary, to leave most surprises in for the first-time reader.]