That said, this is also one of the most frustrating series in all of sci-fi, simply because of its publishing success. Lois McMaster Bujold wrote the series as a set of independent, yet linked, books. Then when the rising popularity intersected the difficulty of finding the older books in the series, they started republishing them in omnibus editions. These editions are actually quite well thought-out, and yet, if you're not careful, you'll end up buying books you already own. Thus, with my sweet husband's help, I present to you the cheapest, most efficient way to get to know Miles and the gang. Mind you, we used several of the very well-written lists out on the internet as resources. The difference in this list? Fewer spoilers!
1. Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold
This book is QUITE independent from the rest of the Vorkosigan series, but I present it in this list as it's set in the same universe. It's much more serious "hard" science fiction, than the space opera that the rest of the series can lean toward. NOTE: before you buy this one, read my note down at #8.
2. Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
This includes Shards of Honor and Barrayar, and tells the stories of Mile's parents and a bit of his boyhood.
3. Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold
This includes Warrior's Apprentice (one of my favorites!), The Vor Game, and the short story, "The Mountains of Mourning." Yes, you should read the short story before you read the Vor Game.
4. Miles, Mystery & Mayhem by Lois McMaster Bujold
This includes Cetaganda, Ethan of Athos, and "Labrynth" from Borders of Infinity. I love the gender issues these bring up, and recommend them highly to everyone. (Pssst, Shannon, Baron, I'm talkin' to YOU!) Still, I really believe that while you'll enjoy each of these stories individually, you'll find them MUCH more amusing if you read them in order. That said, I view either Cordelia's Honor, or Young Miles as suitable starting points. Or Falling Free.
5. Miles Errant by Lois McMaster Bujold
This includes Brothers in Arms, Borders of Infinity, and Mirror Dance. Ahh the sibling issues, eh? *grin*
6. Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold
This one is a stand-alone book, at least for now. I'd tell you more about it, but it's been a while since I read this one and I can't remember much. Heh.
7. Miles in Love by Lois McMaster Bujold
This includes Komarr, A Civil Campaign, and Winterfair Gifts. Absolutely delightful reads.
8. And here's where we run into trouble. You can either buy Diplomatic Immunity as a stand-alone book, OR you can buy it as part of an omnibus, Miles, Mutants and Microbes, and also get a copy of Falling Free and "Labrynth" from Borders of Infinity. If you've been following along, you've already gotten a copy of "Labrynth" from Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem. So, yeah, chrononlogically, you really need to separate Falling Free and Diplomatic Immunity, and thus, my preference for separate books rather than an omnibus. Still, if you're new to the series, it would be more cost-effective to go ahead with the omnibus. The three stories could certainly be read, and enjoyed, as a packaged set.
9. Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold
This is her latest book, and it's wonderful. The fact that I could buy it for my Kindle for $5 from the Baen website, or wait another week or two for our local Barnes and Nobel to bring in the hardcover so that I could pay $25 for a book I don't have room to store decided me, and this was the first book I ever read on the Kindle. It was absorbing enough that I eventually adjusted to the technology. And yes, the ending made me cry -- for a Long Time.
10. She can't possibly stop the series here, so I'm leaving this space open and looking longingly in her general direction. *Big Grin*
Final Note: M'okay, so this list helps you get over 18 novels in a series that contains three Hugo-winning novels, one Nebula-winning novel, and a number of Hugo- and Nebula-winning short stories and novellas, while only buying 9 books. Nifty, eh? For those of you who like to read via electronics, I've got an even better deal. Rather than clicking and following the Amazon links, just go to http://www.baen.com/ and buy the electronic versions of the books there. It's cheaper, and best of all? SOME OF THEM ARE BEING GIVEN AWAY FREE AT THAT WEBSITE! Yep, Baen is so strongly in favor of people being able to "borrow" books, that they offer an entire library of free books! Go, run, check out the Baen Free Library and do it NOW! You'll thank me!
"Power is better than revenge. Power is a live thing, by which you reach out to grasp the future. Revenge is a dead thing, reaching out from the past to grasp you."
– Miles Vorkosigan, Borders of Infinity