Characters for the Vorkosigan Saga. Beware of copious spoilers!
Isolated from the rest of known space for centuries by an accident that stripped its colonists of both a lot of their needed tech, supplies, and personnel, not to mention contact with the rest of humanity, Barrayar survived by reverting to a feudal system (along with sheer bloody-mindedness and a habit of winning all their wars, often by being too crazy to give up), and is now struggling to adjust to a galaxy that views its social model as anything from quaintly anachronistic to dangerously primitive. Ruled by the Vor warrior caste, with The Emperor at their head. The homeworld of Miles, who has to deal with Barrayar's nasty prejudice against mutants like him, and the focus (and often the setting) of the Vorkosigan series.
- Battle Butler: Armsmen. Each count is allowed twenty bodyguards, and they tend to pick the cream of the crop.
- The Clan: Every Vor house
- Deadly Decadent Court: Somewhat tamed by now. Miles' father Aral actually survived being Regent to Gregor until his majority, and since then Gregor has been applying his foster-father's lessons, toning down both the decadence and the deadliness.
- Admittedly, the Vorkosigan regency contained four assassination attempts, one civil war, one aborted colonial insurrection, one foreign invasion attempt all in the first five years. The next twelve years were somewhat more sedate than this... but not by much.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Yes it was a brutal, chaotic society and has not quite grown out of that. However it does have a sense of honor, and does not permit slavery.
- Fantastic Racism: Against mutants, disabled people and all genetic strangeness. It was only recently that infanticide was banned, and it still goes on in quiet in parts of the back country. The prejudice is both understandable (mutations were historically a gigantic problem for the isolated Barrayan colonists) and spurs much of Miles Vorkosigan's actions (viewed as a "mutie" by Barrayan society, he struggles to prove himself in the face of unreasoning hatred). A more minor prejudice is between the speakers of various Earth-decended languages, but it can be dangerous as well; it's mentioned that riots along linguistic divisions are political points to take into consideration.
- Feudal Future
- Honor Before Reason
- I Gave My Word: An important part of the Vor code. Very important.
- Imperial Russia Recycled in Space
- The Kingdom: Calls itself The Empire, but Barrayar is really a medium-sized power compared to others in the galaxy, and is more like The Kingdom.
- La Résistance: During the Cetagandan occupation.
- Noble Bigot: Add Honor Before Reason to Fantastic Racism and this is roughly what you get. They are getting a bit better about it, though.
- Proud Warrior Race
- Rising Empire: Just recently conquered Komarr and founded a colony at Sergyar. Does not seem to have any more interest in expansionism at the moment.
- Screw You Cetaganda: And sometimes kill you.
- Secret Police: Imp Sec
- We ARE Struggling Together!: Until recently, mostly during the latter part of Gregor's reign.
A dome-covered planet whose considerable merchant wealth came through their prime planetary position at the nexus of several strategically important wormhole jumps, Komarr once made the mistake of allowing the Cetagandan Empire passage through their wormholes (for a fee of course) on their way to conquer the backwater world of Barrayar. The Komarrans responsible may not have lived to regret their decision, but their descendants certainly did when Barrayar came back with a conquering fleet to prevent a repeat performance. Once home to a strong La Résistance against the Barrayarans, but this is losing popularity as Komarr and Barrayar become more integrated (including a prominent Komarran heiress becoming the Happily Married Empress of Barrayar.
- Les Collaborateurs: Komarrans in Barrayaran service. More sympathetic than most, particularly Duv Galeni. Also, the Komarrans to the Cetagandans during the Barrayan Occupation, at least in Barrayar's view.
- Neutral No Longer: The original Komarran shareholders voted to let the Cetagandans through in the awareness they were likely not going to give Barrayar a fruit basket. They still viewed themselves as neutral. A generation or two later, the Barrayans dropped in, with armed ships, to let them know they felt differently, and still haven't left.
- Proud Merchant Race
- Puppet State
- The Remnant: Ser Galen, Duv Galeni's father certainly was.
- You Will Be Assimilated: Present Barrayaran policy is to do this to Komarr. Since they've chosen to play the long game, this takes the form of things like Barrayans paying for an expansion of Komarr's artificial solar array (to help with their terraforming), and also quite a few prominent Barrayans and Komarrans getting married across planet lines.
Home of Cordelia, mother of Miles, before she switched allegiance to Aral (and Barrayar). The most technologically and socially progressive society in known space, or a degenerate planet full of unspeakable perversions, madness, and mutations, depending on where you stand. Beta does produce a lot of Science Heroes...just don't run afoul of their therapists.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: Utopia or Dystopia? Depends on where you stand on their more interesting social practices. Even the Betans themselves can't agree.
- Free-Love Future: Age of consent is twelve, presumably because they really trust their educational system to make sure the kids fully understand what they're consenting to.
- A Betan who got caught up in one of Miles' early escapades speaks of Barrayaran investigators questioning not only him, but "my girlfriend" and "her wife."
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Certainly in the view of a lot of terminally old-fashioned Barrayans. The rest of the galaxy seems to view the Betans as kind of out there but with enough strong points to overlook the sarongs and the scarily overpowered role of therapy.
An empire of interconnected planets ruled by a caste dedicated to raising themselves to transhuman status by genetic manipulation, Cetaganda once invaded and unsuccessfully occupied Barrayar. In many ways, it remains the main opponent of the Vorkosigan series as, unlike Barrayar, Cetaganda generally favours expansion, although by the end of the series it appears that Miles' sustained efforts have bought Barrayar some goodwill with its once and future enemy...not that it means much, but by Diplomatic Immunity he can actually talk the Cetagandans out of starting another war with Barrayar.
- Can't Argue with Elves: Well, sort of. Humans who are deliberately evolving into Space Elves, and not humble about it either.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Haut sound like the Bene Geserit
- Fantastic Caste System: The haut geneticist caste ruling over the ghem warrior caste with the workers below both.
- Scary Dogmatic Humans
- Perhaps more Starfishy then Scary Dogmatic. Still...
- Secret War: With Barrayar. Constantly.
- Transhuman Aliens: Perhaps not quite, but if the Haut breeding program continues on schedule... Soon.
Planet ruled by criminal houses where you can get anything for enough money. And that does mean anything.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive
- The Clan: Each criminal house.
- Expendable Clone: One of the chief industries of the planet is making clone slaves-including clones to transplant the brains of rich men into at the price of killing the original personality. No other planet allows such things so if you want this service you must go here.
- The Mafia
- Wretched Hive
Tropes that apply to the whole Vorkosigan clan:
- Badass Family: When you're Vor, it's almost a given, but when even your supposedly-cuddly, pacifist Betan mother has a reputation for bringing home the heads of your enemies in a shopping bag...
- Deadpan Snarker: All of them.
- High Vor Who Actually Do Something
Miles Naismith Vorkosigan
Only son and heir to the Vorkosigan countship, victim of a soltoxin attack while still in utero, the antitoxin to which left him with an abnormally stunted stature and frighteningly brittle bones, Miles grew up military-mad in a culture that despised him for a mutie. When he fails his qualifying physical for the Barrayan military at seventeen, the death of his grandfather and a "breather" trip to Beta Colony with his friend Elena Bothari and her father Sergeant Constantin Bothari, followed by a chance meeting with a drunk-and-suicidal jump pilot, changes the course of his life, ending in him becoming the admiral of a mercenary fleet at seventeen and launching a career beyond his wildest adolescent imaginings.
- Almighty Janitor: Despite commanding his own mercenary fleet as Admiral Naismith, Miles never manages to rise past the rank of Lieutenant until after he gets himself fired from ImpSec in the Barrayaran service.
- Badass: All four foot eleven of him.
- Badass Bookworm
- Batman Gambit: His frequent modus operandi. He gets it from both his parents.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Another tool in his tactical repertoire.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Miles is a deeply caring soul and almost compulsively determined to do right by everyone he can, from helping a miserable drunken jump pilot keep his beloved ship from being repossessed to helping ten thousand POWs escape a Cetagandan prison camp when he was only supposed to engineer the breakout of one of them ("Daring Rescues our specialty!" Granted, if he'd stuck to his original objectives, the mission would have been pointless as the one POW he'd gone in to get was not in a fit state to be helpful). Cross him, or worse yet mess with his loved ones, and you will be very, very sorry.
- Big Damn Heroes: Miles loves doing this, even when it puts his life on the line. It gets him Killed Off for Real for the better part of "Mirror Dance".
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: He may be crazy (Even his own mother thinks so), but he's very, very good at what he does.
- Busman's Holiday: Miles can't go anywhere but that something gigantic and political comes down on his head.
- Chick Magnet: Despite the loss of his first love Elena, Miles doesn't seem to have any trouble attracting strong, capable, badass women (and hermaphrodites; even if Bel Thorne's interest was unrequited, they still worked well together), and has remarkably successful relationships with them, to the point where he still trusted Rowan Durona enough to consider her performing an illicit medical procedure on his brain in "Memory", and after "Civil Campaign", Elli sent him a kinky (if snarky) wedding gift and Taura stood as Second to his wife Ekaterin during the marriage ceremony.
- Deadpan Snarker: Miles' snark is weapons-grade.
- Disabled Snarker
- Determinator: He takes this to frightening levels. A minor but telling example: when Ekaterin is hanging over the railing about to go into the Serifosa ornamental pond (long story), Miles grabs onto her wrists despite having no support and being considerably smaller than her, realizes this, and gets pulled into the pond with her anyway because he refuses to let go. This late leads both Miles and Ekaterin to an epiphany: Miles to the fact that he couldn't have saved Sergeant Beatrice, frequent star of his nightmares and self-recriminations, from being sucked out of the shuttle during the Dagoola IV rescue because even if he had been just a little faster, he had no purchase and she outweighed him almost two to one, and Ekaterin to the realization that if Miles had managed to grab Beatrice, he would have died with her simply because in spite of the above, he would not have let go.
- Admiral Naismith has to win. Miles Vorkosigan cannot lose.
- Fragile Speedster: The speed is mostly spiritual, but for the better part of his life a simple fall could shatter his bones like glass.
- Genius Cripple
- Guile Hero: He has to be, because of his frail physique. Even after his bones are replaced with more durable synthetics, he's still five foot zilch.
- Happily Married: to Ekaterin Vorsoisson, after a few false starts.
- Hot Amazon: Seems to collect them; see Chick Magnet above. Even his future wife, Ekaterin, has shades of this.
- Insistent Terminology: Miles would like you to know that his physical issues are teratogenic in nature, and the Vor in general are a military caste, not an aristocracy. Also, Mark is his brother, not his clone. Later in his life, Miles is much more flexible on the first issue, taking the more relaxed view that if Barrayar sees him as a mutant, his success might make things easier for actual mutants after him. It may help that he marries Ekaterin around this time, but the attitude shift had at least mostly happened before he met her.
- Knight Errant: Sees himself as one, according to his mother's amateur psychoanalysis.
- Manipulative Bastard: Ivan several times notes that whenever they have a conversation it ends with Miles getting his way.
- The Messiah: At times, particularly during "Borders of Infinity" when he started out pretending to be a real one and grew into the role. The madman who came up with the idea even points out that Miles thinks he's faking, but he's not.
- Military Maverick: Despite working within Barrayan Imperial Security for all intents and purposes, Miles got his rank and position by going totally AWOL, scamming an entire mercenary fleet into following him, and single-handedly ending a major interplanetary war. He also has a habit of driving superiors batty; it isn't until many years later that he realizes Simon Illyan's parting wish for Miles have "subordinates just like himself" was not a compliment but a very emphatic curse.
- The Napoleon: A very sympathetic example, but he's still pretty insecure about his height.
- Nepotism: He's sensitive about it and does everything he can to earn rank and respect on his own merits...but isn't above throwing his weight around as a Vor scion if it helps cut through obnoxious Barrayan red tape or, more frequently, help somebody else out.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- High Vor Who Actually Do Something
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right
- Secret Identity Identity: The conflict between Admiral Miles Naismith and Lord Miles Vorkosigan fuels a lot of the character development in the later books, and is one of the central themes of Memory.
- The Judge: in Mountains of Mourning.
- Too Clever by Half
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: To Elena.
- Warrior Therapist: Learnt it from his mother.
- Well Done Grandson Guy: To Piotr, at first. He gets over it. Is a tiny bit this towards Aral, but unlike most examples of this trope, Aral is never stingy with his love and affection for Miles, nor does he make a secret of it.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: though sometimes, especially early on in his career, Miles's tendency to go off half-cocked can lead to a Gambit Pileup all by himself.
Cordelia Naismith (Countess Vorkosigan)
- Badass: After days of struggling through hostile terrain with a brain-damaged subordinate to care for and very few supplies, she still manages to thwart a mutiny against Aral and escape. And that's before her shopping trip...
- Blithe Spirit: To her husband, and the entire planet, to a certain extent.
- Cloudcuckoolander: A lot of Barrayans seem to perceive her as such for her attitudes to sex and gender ... not that they'd ever say that to the face of the woman who reportedly took down Ges Vorrutyer and Vidal Vordarian. The feeling's a bit mutual, and she's spent thirty years gently and quietly starting to turn the tables.
- Cool Old Lady: By "A Civil Campaign", she's well into her sixties, and Kareen admits she'd be more comfortable talking to Cordelia about her sex life than to her own mother. Oh, and her part in the War of Vordarian's Pretendership has elevated her to Memetic Badass status. Though, since Betans live longer than most people, she's more like a Cool Middle-Aged Lady by the standards of her own planet.
- Fish Out of Water: Initially, Cordelia on Barrayar. After thirty-plus years, it's slowly starting to swing the other way.
- Going Native: Averted; she remains stubbornly unassimilated. When Miles is in danger though, she can bring home the villain's head in a
basketshopping bag, thus proving that in this way she has lived up to Barrayaran standards Up to Eleven.
- Good Parents: With Aral. They compliment each other as she is the nurturer while Aral is the teacher and role-model.
- Happily Married: to Aral, of course.
- Mama Bear: After what she goes through in "Barrayar" to rescue Miles' uterine replicator, don't you dare doubt it.
- Memetic Badass: In-universe, at least among the High Vor. Her public image is much lower profile: historian Duv Galeni even refers to her as "the most invisible of political wives." Miles jokes when someone asks him to come shopping with them that "There's an offer seldom made of my mother's son."
- To underline this: Cordelia's husband Aral is the most legendary warrior alive in a warrior culture, who has proven on every level ranging from single combat with bare hands to spacefleets that he is the best warrior around. He's more famous even than his father Piotr, who was himself a galactically-famous military legend. Even those of Aral's peers who absolutely despise him will still unhesitatingly acknowledge that he is one of the greatest badasses alive. And they are still more frightened of his wife than they are of him.
- The Messiah: Even moreso than her eldest son.
- The Social Expert: Probably the best example in a whole family full of examples.
- Talking The Heroic Sociopath Into Slitting The Complete Monster's Throat
- Tomboy A bit old for the designation, but very much so by Barayaran standards. Aral calls her "my dear Captain" for a reason. Miles observes that she wears a Barayaran matron's skirts like a child playing dressup.
- Warrior Therapist: Effectively appointed herself warrior therapist to an entire planet by vowing to make Barrayar a safe place for Miles, Gregor and Elena to grow up. Taught it to her son.
- Worthy Opponent: When Cordelia is surprised that she is welcomed having been on the other side during the war, she is told that a good soldier is appreciated on Barrayar. Barrayarans often take their militarism so seriously that they take it to it's logical extent and do nothing so absurdly civilian as to be unsporting about the matter when the shooting is over.
Count Aral Vorkosigan
- Authority Equals Asskicking
- Badass Grandpa: He's older by Barrayan standards when he marries for the second time, and thirty years later is still serving Barrayar. After Miles' marriage, becomes this very literally.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Aral is reasonable, kind, intelligent, level-headed, and a good father and husband. He also strangled a subordinate to death with his bare hands once for murdering civilians. When your son's assassin-clone's Super-Powered Evil Side remarks on feeling a certain kinship with you...
- Bi the Way: Aral has had at least one male lover in the past. To the confusion of the Barrayans, Cordelia really doesn't care. She even openly muses at one point that Aral tends to lean more towards men than women.
- Blue Blood
- The Butcher Of Komarr: One of his officers ordered the massacre of a group of unarmed Komarrans, during the course of a planetary conquest that Aral had worked hard to make as bloodless as possible; Aral killed the man personally in a fit of rage, then got stuck with the blame for his actions.
- Cincinnatus: Despite his wife's efforts, Barrayar and the High Vor just won't let him have a peaceful retirement.
- Depraved Bisexual: Subverted. Aral is perceived as this by some of his enemies, but is in fact a thoroughly honourable man and a devoted husband and father.
- Determinator: Miles gets it from both his parents: just witness the hell Aral puts himself through during his first appearance, trekking across hostile Sergyar with a couple of Betan POWs, one of whom was the victim of a nerve disruptor attack to the head and is thus a drooling vegetable.
- Feudal Overlord: Of the Dendarii mountains.
- The Good Chancellor
- Good Parents: With Cordelia
- Happily Married: To Cordelia
- Marty Tzu: Aral is never wrong on military matters. He's extremely intelligent and with good judgement in general, but is still as capable of the occasional error in personal or civilian (especially personal) affairs as any other human being. But when it comes to military tactics or strategy he has literally never made an incorrect decision in his entire life; even under circumstances where there's not remotely enough data to deduce a correct answer he'll find it anyway on sheer gut instinct. Pretty much every military historian in the Nexus agrees that Aral Vorkosigan is the military genius of the age -- which is impressive under any circustances and doubly so considering that Aral's competition for that title includes his own father, the man who quite literally saved his entire world by defeating a Cetagandan invasion with horse cavalry.
- Officer and a Gentleman
- Old Soldier
- The Patriarch
- Proud Vorrior Guy
- High Vor Who Actually Do Something
- So Proud of You: Unlike his own father, doesn't withhold or hide his love from his son.
- Tranquil Fury: At one point Cordelia thinks that she doesn't have to worry about others overhearing his part of their argument: when he gets angry, he starts whispering.
- When He Smiles: Another shared trait with his son; he's not unattractive, but Cordelia only starts to become attracted to him the first time he really smiles with pleasure.
Count Piotr Vorkosigan
Aral's father, the former Count Vorkosigan, a hard man and a veteran of the Cetagandan occupation of Barrayar.
- Badass Grandpa: Say what you will about his personality, Piotr's fighting credentials are well-established. Even more impressive when one considers that within Piotr's command career, the nature of war changed from regressive semi-medieval cavalry maneuvers all the way to the space age. And he came out on top in both. Against Cetaganda, no less - already a ruthless multiple-star-system empire - for the latter. And that was just the warmup for leading the civil war that deposed Mad Emperor Yuri and set Ezar on the throne
- Defrosting Ice Count: He mellows out to his grandson eventually, mostly due to a truckload of effort on Miles' part.
- Fair for Its Day : Most of the Jerkass aspects of his personnality are due to the Values Dissonance between him and the "new generation", but in fact considering his background he's pretty progressive; he himself recognized the need for Barrayar to go forward, and Miles, after having seen a glimpse of the planet's past in one of his missions, realizes and makes a lecture about how Piotr wasn't "one of the last ancient" but "one of the first modern".
- Jerkass: He's nice enough to his daughter-in-law, right up until it turns out she still wants to preserve her son in the aftermath of the soltoxin attack; then Piotr proceeds to treat Cordelia like garbage, belittle her, and use every advantage accorded him by blood and Barrayan law to "dump" the still-in-utero Miles. When Aral blocks him, he picks a fight with his son and the resulting estrangement lasts for five years.
- The Patriarch
- That Thing Is Not My Grandchild: At first.
- You Should Have Died Instead: He almost says this to Aral in a moment of anger, but even the beginning of the sentiment is enough to freeze his relations with his only living son solid right away.
Mark Pierre Vorkosigan
Miles's clone-brother and the results of a plot by a psychotic Komarran, Mark was conditioned to be Miles, right down to imitating his physical tics and having his height and skeleton surgically (and painfully) altered to replicate the effects of the soltoxin attack. Then he meets his original, who manages to change his mind in more ways than one. Needless to say, Mark is a hugely screwed-up individual.
- Abusive Parents: Ser Galen.
- Berserk Button: The Jacksonian clone-body industry. It's Extremely Personal for Mark.
- Cloning Blues: And how. Much of his development in later books is finding non-self-destructive ways to assert his non-Milesness.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: What Ser Galen and later Baron Ryoval put him through. Ryoval, being the expert, was expecting that Mark would develop a split personality to help himself survive the torture; what he wasn't expecting was how quickly and efficiently Mark managed to do it, and also the presence of Killer, which proved to be his undoing.
- Deadpan Snarker: By "Civil Campaign", he's almost as acerbic as his clone-brother (and new favourite target).
- Defusing the Tykebomb: Miles starts it in "Brothers In Arms" not long after discovering Mark's existence, then the whole Vorkosigan family gets in on the act. Later on, Kareen and even Ekaterin lend their support to the effort. There are signs that the whole Koudelka clan may be warming up to him: for Mark, who never had a family, the prospect of having two is an enchanting one.
- Non-Idle Rich: What he winds up doing later, with an eye to using his spoils to outmaneuver the Jacksonian clone-body industry and render it obsolete.
- Rape as Backstory: Mark's early life was truly appalling. And then Ryoval gets his hands on him.
- Self-Made Man: Mark takes the same approach to earning money that Miles does to advancing Barrayan security.
- Split Personality: Developed not one but four to deal with Ryoval's torture: Grunt represents Mark's sexuality, Gorge his appetite, Howl his masochism, and Killer, well...you get the idea. He's dubbed them the Black Gang (after coal-handlers and, by extension, other people who do the unpleasant out-of-sight jobs, rather than black = evil/bad) and by "Civil Campaign" has them (mostly) under control.
- That Thing Is Not My Child: Averted hard by Cordelia, who accepts a bewildered, wary Mark as her son as per her Betan upbringing, by Miles who thinks of him as a brother and refers to him as such, and by Aral.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Except for the wife part, Mark tends to feel this way about himself and Kareen, repeatedly comparing himself to a squat toad. Kareen feels otherwise, but most of her relatives (and puzzled bystanders) tend to side with Mark's assessment. Part of this may be in contrast to Miles, who, while just as short, has been noted to have a face that's both handsome and intensely, conspicuously animated when he's not having a seizure.
A former subordinate of Aral's who had an extremely troubled history and career, he becomes a Vorkosigan Armsman after his discharge from the Imperial Service. Bothari eventually comes into Cordelia's orbit and responded to her belief in him with fierce, unquestioning devotion to her. Despite his transition from a normal soldier to a Vorkosigan armsman, his status as the family's resident and willing shooter of dogs remains unchanged.
- Battle Butler: To the Vorkosigans, and particularly the young Miles, right up until his death.
- Heroic Sociopath: Despite being a damaged killer with a violent, traumatic history, Bothari does his best to redeem himself through his loyalty to Cordelia and his Herculean efforts to be a good Da to his little daughter by the female prisoner of war he raped while in a drug-and-Ges-induced fugue during the Escobar War, Elena.
- Dark and Troubled Past: His mother was a Barrayan prostitute who used to sell him to her customers. And that was before Ges Vorrutyer got his hands on him.
- Killed Off for Real: By his daughter Elena's biological mother.
- Overprotective Dad: And when his daughter finds out his past behavior, she's totally disgusted with him.
- Rules Lawyer: Lord Aral Vorkosigan told him to honor his wife's commands as if they were his own. Aral probably meant that as Lord Vorkosigan. Bothari interpreted that as being from Lord Regent Vorkosigan, giving Cordelia the authority of the Emperor as far as Bothari is concerned. The order is never rescinded.
- Son of a Whore: And it screwed him up hugely.
- Shoot the Dog: In the service of Cordelia (and later Miles), Bothari often employs methods far more ruthless than either of them are comfortable with, but he gets results. He also views himself as Cordelia's dog making his death a bizarre turnabout.
Imagine Jeeves as a former SAS commando.
- Old Retainer: By the time of A Civil Campaign, but he starts out as The New Guy in Mountains Of Mourning.
Quiet, good with horses.
Tall, imposing, athletic and intelligent, Roic isn't former military like the other armsmen: he's a former police officer, taken into Count Aral's service after showing extreme heroism in a crisis. Rapidly becomes Miles right-hand man after Miles becomes Imperial Auditor since Miles finds his police experience useful. Also, between the aforementioned heroism and him and Sergeant Taura derailing a plot to assassinate Ekaterin on the day of her wedding to Miles, a thing that would surely have broken Miles beyond the ability of even Betan therapy to fix, there's no doubting Roic's bravery or loyalty. Cryoburn mentions briefly that he's courting Armsman Commander Pym's daughter Aurie.
- The Big Guy: Steps up to the plate as this in the later novels.
- Beleaguered Assistant: He is generally the armsman of choice to accompany the little git... er... Lord Vorkosigan on his off planet missions.
- Mr. Fanservice: In-universe. When the Vorkosigan household's duties require a particularly decorative armsman, he's the one who inevitably gets dragooned into the job. When he responded to an emergency call mostly undressed -- it'd been his scheduled sleep time -- Martya Koudelka actually sighed at the sight.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: His brief romance with Taura, one of the few people in the universe who could render him the 'tiny guy'.
Miles' cook. He hires her after he discovers that the boxed lunches his ImpSec gate guard is getting from his mother are a lot better than the premade meals Miles has been buying and heating up for himself.
- Supreme Chef: Miles is advised to double her salary, as soon as some of his Vor friends find out just how good a cook she is. His aunt Lady Alys Vorpatril, the paragon of style among Vorbarr Sultana's High Vor, has shown calculating looks regarding Ma Kosti's cooking, and Cordelia contemplated getting her son transferred to Sergyar so she could steal that culinary mastery for herself.
- By the time of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, even Emperor Gregor is wistfully considering the idea of poaching her.
Miles' second cousin and agemate, a handsome and clever but rather lazy young officer who is exceptionally popular with the ladies. Often answers to "Ivan, you idiot!", and is forever getting dragged into Miles' wild schemes, or so he claims.
- Bodyguard Crush: With Tej. He is not a professional bodyguard but ends up as one.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Actually described as having a "sharp but lazy intellect" in Brothers in Arms. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance shows him as an efficient aide to the Chief of Operations of the entire Imperial Service.
- Butt Monkey: Is often called an idiot by his friends and relatives and tends to be the victim of humorously embarrassing circumstances.
- The Casanova: Shading into Chivalrous Pervert. He's offended when Byerly Vorrutyer makes a remark implying that Ivan would only help a woman in danger if she were good-looking. Byerly then admits that implication was unfair.
- The Charmer: Has shades of this.
- Citizenship Marriage: With Tej.
- Deadpan Snarker: But of course.
- Drives Like Crazy
Gregor: So, Lord Mark, what do you think of Vorbarr Sultana so far?
Mark: It went by pretty fast.
Gregor: Dear God, don't tell me you let Ivan drive.
- Foil: To his cousin Miles. Ivan is tall, healthy, handsome, and has girls falling all over him without his even trying. He's also preternaturally lazy and uninterested in any kind of responsibility (including marriage, until later on when the shortage of Vor women his age becomes pressing).
- Handsome Lech
- Happily Married: By the end of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance. He actually gets married only a few chapters into the story, but at the time the newlyweds think it's just a temporary ploy.
- Hero of Another Story: While not involved in Miles' exploits Ivan has had a fairly successful military career, usually getting promotions ahead of Miles (who lost years of seniority in active service due to infirmary/hospital time, wounded (and occasionally killed) in the line of duty). He got his own book eventually, Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, in 2012.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Yes, he can be thoughtless, inappropriate, and about as sensitive as a brick, but he does care for his family (including his height-challenged terror of a cousin) and will go to the wall to help them. Snarking all the way, of course.
Miles: Ivan, one of these days somebody is going to pull out a weapon and plug you, and you're going to die in bewilderment, crying, 'What did I say? What did I say?'"
Ivan: What did I say?
- When Miles gets the temporary Auditor appointment and asks for Ivan as his aide, Ivan says something about Miles wanting a "donkey to carry his luggage." Miles replies he needs a donkey he can "rely on absolutely." Then he mentions they're looking into what happened to Simon Illyan, and Ivan immediately stops complaining.
- In Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Byerly Vorrutyer dragoons Ivan into a scheme to try and save the lives of two young women. When By tries to explain that Ivan was his first choice because he knew Ivan would love the chance to knight-errant for a beautiful young woman, Ivan's immediate response is to be insulted at the implication that he would be any less willing to help save the life of an ugly one.
- Ivan's new bride is intrigued to realize that, before introducing her to Simon, Ivan is evidently concerned to explain Simon's not-quite-disability to her and ask her to make allowances:
...he was anxious for his mother's lover's dignity, then? And not just for how it reflected on his mother, it seemed. He seemed anxious for Simon Illyan in his own right.
- He doesn't like to think about what Illyan's (probably short) life would have been like after the removal of the memory chip if he hadn't taken up with Lady Alys. Ivan's evidently glad by now that things turned out as they did.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: happens to him in Cetaganda as a result of a drink spiked with an "anti-aphrodisiac". He is in a threesome with two Cetagandan ghem-ladies when the effects take hold, but manages to avoid embarrassment thanks to some almost Miles-worthy bluffing about Barrayan sexual customs and a couple of handy bedroom tricks taught to him by an old flame. Amusingly, in spite of his fears, once word of his performance gets around Ivan finds himself deluged with invitations by very interested ghem-ladies.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: It's a matter of self-preservation, when you're theoretically third in line for the Imperium.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Despite his hedonism Ivan, is a reasonably decent person and in any case the typical male fare on Jackson's Whole leaves not much to choose from. It is Ivan's-and Barrayar's coincidently- comparative goodness that is to a large degree what attracts Tej.
- Spoiled Sweet: Maybe more "Spoiled sweet and sour". He is an entitled courtier sure enough and he can even be aggravating at times. But he can also be quite nice and he is hard to really dislike.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome
- When He Smiles: As if he weren't already good-looking enough, the woman he finally marries feels this applies, too.
Lady Alys Vorpatril
Miles' aunt (really a first cousin by marriage, once removed), Ivan's long-suffering mother, and a grand dame of the High Vor. Possibly more deadly than the male. (Emperor Gregor calls her "General Alys" and defies anyone to upset her social plans, if they dare.) In Captain Vorpatril's Alliance her title is now "Social Secretary to the Imperial Residence." "First assistant to Empress Laisa," too, and still "one of the most powerful women in the capital."
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Once she hooks up with Illyan, Ivan certainly feels this way.
- Cool Old Lady: In "Civil Campaign", it's hinted that she's working with ImpSec as By's handler, though with her being referred to as a "blind drop" she might not be aware of it; with her being just that astute, she might.
- "Old" is a matter of perception; at sixty, she's "past youth and into an indeterminate age one might dub dignified, but certainly not old...." That's the opinion of someone with a Cetagandan haut grandmother; see "Grande Dame" on the Main page.
- My Beloved Smother: Ivan thinks so, but she just wants grandkids, and backs off once Simon Illyan is in the picture.
- Politically Active Vor Lady: Especially in A Civil Campaign.
- Even before that. For all of Gregor's life it was known that the task of finding and vetting the Emperor's eventual spouse had been delegated to her by Cordelia (who, as the Emperor's foster-mother, would originally have that job). Which meant that every Vor family on the planet with any hope at all of seeing one of their young lady scions become the future Empress of Barrayar -- i.e., every Vor family on the planet, period -- had a reason to try currying favor with Lady Alys.
- Silk Hiding Steel
Miles' boss, the seemingly omniscient and implacable head of ImpSec. His mere name is enough to invoke dread in most people. Has a memory chip implanted in his head that lets him remember everything.
- Bodyguard Crush: Indirectly. Bodyguarding the Emperor includes those attending his court, Alys is the emperors mistress of ceremonies and therefore is an accidental target for anyone wanting the emperor. Therefore Simon is her guard as well. In any case they end up falling in love.
- Brought Down to Normal
- The Dreaded: Perhaps the most feared person in Barrayar.
- Expy: Word of God states that Illyan's name, appearance and profession are somewhat inspired by Ilya Kuryakin of The Man from U.N.C.L.E..
- Love Redeems: Or at least helps you live a normal life after decades of being a near-machine.
- Married to the Job: Simon is married to the service of Barrayar. And while he looks at Alys wistfully, he has no desire to burden a woman with the stuff that would be contained in the head of a spymaster with an implanted database.
- Photographic Memory
- Neural Implanting: At least until the chip is sabotaged.
- The Nondescript: A useful thing for a junior ImpSec officer, which is how he began his career.
- Note To Emperor Ezar
- The Spymaster
Emperor Gregor Vorbarra
Emperor of Barrayar, Komarr, and Sergyar, a soft-spoken, highly intelligent man and just the sort of person you'd want running your feudal militarized space empire.
- Awesomeness By Analysis: Gregor does his homework. God help you if you don't.
- Beware the Nice Ones: "Did you think you were dealing with an amateur?"
- Catch Phrase: "Let's see what happens."
- Character Development: Over the course of the series, goes from being used by various Barrayan counts and politicians to out-playing them all and securing his own happiness, without losing his essential humanity or compromising his honour.
- Guile Hero: Particularly in The Vor Game.
- Happily Adopted: By the Vorkosigans, after being orphaned during Vordarian's Pretendership.
- Happily Married: To a nice, smart, wealthy, sane Komarran BBW. By the latest book, they've sprogged a brood of brainy kids.
- Hazel Eyes: Of the "hidden potential" type.
- Heroic BSOD: During the events of "Vor Game", he finds out his father, the supposed war hero Prince Serg, was actually a brutal, judgmentally impaired sadist whose death was possibly the best thing to happen to the Barrayan Empire in a long time. Gregor becomes temporarily suicidal, then goes AWOL as a King Incognito, and only starts to snap out of it when he gets tangled up in a deadly plot involving dueling mercenary fleets and a potential Cetagandan invasion.
- In the Blood: Given his ancestral history, he's terrified of this happening to himself or his offspring, and vetoes a lot of potential Vor brides on the basis that inbreeding would bring out the crazy. As Miles puts it, "Gregor has a well-founded paranoia about, well, paranoia."
- Laser-Guided Karma: Gregor just loves dispensing this. He even hired Miles to focus the beam.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- Royals Who Actually Do Something
- Tranquil Fury: The quieter he gets, the angrier he generally is.
Byerly Vorrutyer: I thought Gregor was fairly easy-going for an emperor.
Ivan: No. He is not. He is merely rather quiet. It's not the same thing at all. You don't want to see what he's like pissed.
Byerly: What does he look like, pissed?
Ivan: Identical to what he looks like the rest of the time. That's the scary part.
- The Wise Prince: In private life, Gregor is a kind, complex man, but his public persona makes him come across as The Stoic.
- Warrior Therapist: Learned it at Cordelia's knee. He's even better at it than Miles, eventually a match for Cordelia herself.
- Warrior Prince: Well, sort of. At least he does warlike things once in awhile.
- When He Smiles: Ivan's new wife thinks Gregor has "one of those wildly unfair male face-transforming smiles ... even more so than Ivan Xav's."
- The White Prince: Appears as this toward the beginning of The Vor Game. Turns out to be smarter than he appears though.
Emperor Ezar Vorbarra
Gregor's grandfather, Serg's father, a highly subtle and dangerous old bastard.
- The Chessmaster
- Lesser of Two Evils: See below. In this case even the "lesser" was pretty extravagantly evil.
- Murder In A Stack Of Deaths: See below.
- Offing the Offspring: Considering what a psycho his son Serg was, it's hard to blame him...until one considers he got thousands of Escobarans, Betans, and his own Barrayans killed to cover the act.
- Shoot the Dog: This and a Kick the Dog, all rolled up in one: see above.
- Thanatos Gambit: Sets Aral up for the Regency of Barrayar with one of these.
- The Extremist Was Right: Or else he was really lucky. In any case his plan did work as he wanted it to.
- The Unfettered: As Emperor, Ezar was deeply and sincerely devoted to the good of Barrayar above all other concerns... to a degree that any remotely sane being and most insane beings found absolutely horrifying. Despite being solidly on team protagonist he was the single most ruthless entity to exist in the entire chronicle, including all of the antagonists.
Clement "Kou" Koudelka
Aral's subordinate and later personal secretary; wounded during the Escobar War, he uses a swordstick to get around. Happily married to Drou, he is the proud if slightly apprehensive father of four daughters. Eventually rises to the rank of Commodore.
- Handicapped Badass
- Overprotective Dad: Morphs into one of these when Kareen and Mark are outed as a couple. He gets over it; helps that one of his other daughters hooks up with the transsexual Count Dono Vorrutyer during the same time period.
- Sword Cane: Cordelia gives him one in "Barrayar" to try and help alleviate his feelings of being "crippled" and "useless" (after a disruptor shot completely screws his nervous system and leaves him with trouble getting around and excruciating pain). It gets borrowed back and re-purposed later.
Ludmilla "Drou" Droushnakovi
Former bodyguard to Princess Kareen and then-heir to the throne Prince Gregor, Drou accompanied Cordelia on her shopping trip to the Capital. Now married to Clement Koudelka and the proud mother of four daughters.
- Action Girl: she was a planetary martial arts champion and Emperor Gregor's childhood bodyguard.
- Embarrassing First Name: She keeps Drou as a nickname after her marriage. Even her husband calls her Drou. Hell, even the Emperor calls her Drou. Of course he does. He's known "Droushie" since he was five years old. Possibly younger.
- Happily Married: To Kou, though that doesn't mean she doesn't want her daughters to have happier, saner courtships than she did.
- Retired Badass
The Koudelka Girls (AKA "Team Koudelka" AKA "Koudelka's All-Blonde Commando Team")
Kou and Drou's four daughters, Delia Galeni, Olivia,Countess Vorrutyer, Martya Borgos and Kareen who becomes Lady Kareen Vorkosigan in all but name.
- Action Girl: All of them.
- Delia is an essential part of Miles' notorious "Assault on Cockroach Central" (specifically the part that involves protecting the falsely accused Duv Galeni from catching a bad case of involuntary suicide).
- Martya and Kareen engineer a food fight that would put Blake Edwards to shame to protect Enrique Borgos (and their shares in Mark's company) from Escobaran law enforcement.
- Olivia personally beats down a couple of armed thugs hired by Richars Vorrutyer to reverse his cousin Dono's Betan sex-change surgery with a vibra-knife. Barehanded. Dressed in a ball gown.
- Amazon Brigade: The girls tend to go about in a herd by their own admission, and after watching Olivia clobber the thugs Ivan speculates that the mother-daughter wisdom passed down in the Koudelka clan extended to things a lot more dangerous than baking brownies. Junior officers at HQ refer to them as "Commodore Koudelka's all-blonde commando team," and are said to be unsuccessfully trying to surrender to them.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Proved, to Ivan's horror, when super-quiet Olivia takes down a couple of armed thugs single-handed.
- Although it is lampshaded at one point that being the quietest and gentlest of the Koudelka sisters still leaves you a lot of room to be pretty aggressive.
- Dead Guy, Junior: Kareen, named after Gregor's mother, the deceased Empress Kareen.
- Deadpan Snarker: Martya
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Kareen is sanguine, Martya is choleric, Delia is melancholic, and Olivia is phlegmatic.
- Gender Rarity Value: The Koudelkas chose to have all girls after noticing that everyone else was using gender-choice technology to select for boys; their daughters are now about the hottest commodities on the Vorbarra Sultana dating scene. The Commodore remarks that he'd expected to someday have a substantial portion of the general staff as sons-in-law. Mark notes that with the mates the girls seem to have chosen, Kou will instead have significant power not just in the military (Duv Galeni), but in the political (Count Dono), scientific (Enrique Borgos), and economic (Mark himself) spheres. "It wasn't just the general staff Kou looked to own in his old age, it was the world."
- As of the latest publication Commodore Koudelka has one son-in-law who is on the fast track to become the next Chief of Imperial Security and is already only one or two heartbeats away from that job (Chief of Komorran Affairs Duv Galeni), one who is one of the most brilliant scientists on Barrayar (Dr. Borgos), one who is a sitting member of the Council of Counts (Count Dono Vorrutyer), and one who is the second son of the most prominent family on the planet short of the Imperial Family itself (Lord Mark Vorkosigan) who is also, in his own right, one of the richest men on the planet. Short of somehow having managed to marry one of his girls to Gregor he really couldn't have topped this high score.
- Nice Girl: "Everyone liked Kareen, because Kareen liked everyone."
Ekaterin Nile Vorvayne Vorsoisson Vorkosigan
"Drat."—Ekaterin Nile Vorvayne Vorsoisson, Komarr, after more than a decade of being married to Etienne Vorsoisson
"Miles, if you die on me, I will not be grieved, I will be pissed!"—Ekaterin, Diplomatic Immunity, after less than two years of being married to Miles Vorkosigan.
Unhappily married to a mid-level bureaucrat on Komarr, Ekaterin is a woman of remarkable personal strength who has been socialized by a restrictive upbringing and a true Jerkass of a husband into a shadow of herself ... until she gets caught up in a dangerous case that may have galactic consequences.
- Actually Pretty Funny: She tells Miles at one point that when she was a child, her older brother had a talent for taunting her in such clever ways that she'd find herself laughing at his wisecracks even while trying to hit him for them.
- Beware the Nice Ones: This over-socialized stay-at-home mom used a Komarran super-weapon as an anti-grav basketball while laughing in the face of certain death.
- In "Winterfair Gifts", someone tries to kill her with a toxin-laced wedding gift, a pearl necklace, and frame an old flame of Miles' for the deed. Once the toxin is detected and Imp Sec cleans it out completely and marks the culprit for death, she wears the necklace to her wedding. A watching armsman decides at that point that she's going to make an excellent match for his Crazy Awesome boss. When one of the guests compliments her on it, and comments that the giver must have spent a lot of money on it:
Ekaterin: Yes, I expect it will cost him everything he has.
- Catch Phrase: "Unpack, Miles." (referring to the way his brain runs five steps ahead of his mouth.)
- Deadpan Snarker: She has her moments.
- Domestic Abuse: Tien certainly emotionally abused her and stole money from her to pay back his bad investments that should have gone to the medical treatment of their young son, and Miles considers it verging on abuse that Tien talked Ekaterin into having her son Nikolai by body-birth when the much safer, painless uterine replicator was already widely available. (At the time Ekaterine saw it as a romantic adventure.) At one point, Ekaterin brings up in Tien's post-mortem defense that he had never hit her, and Miles prays to whatever god might be listening that his best beloved would have higher praise for him after his own death than "he never hit me".
- Happily Married: Eventually. She has to wade through a lot of shit to get there.
- Hot Mom: If the reaction of just about every unattached heterosexual Barrayan and Komarran male around her is to be trusted. Hell, one guy didn't even wait a full week after her husband's murder to propose marriage to her. And then there's Miles' disastrous attempt at stealth courtship via Subordinate Excuse ...
- I Gave My Word: Takes this as seriously as Miles does, which leads to her putting up with mountains of garbage from her husband Tien.
- Let's Get Dangerous
- Oblivious to Love: She is blissfully unaware that Miles has a crush on her. Justified because she has been emotionally traumatized by marriage to Tien and is in no hurry to be tied down by anyone else. She even writes off Miles' confession at the end of Komarr as a joke by the next novel.
- Parenthetical Swearing: Coming from her, a single "Twit" has the force of a Cluster F-Bomb from less repressed characters.
- Silk Hiding Steel
Lord Auditor Professor Georg Vorthys
One of the eight permanent Imperial Auditors and Ekatarin's uncle, Georg Vorthys is a Professor Emeritus of Engineering Failure Analysis at Vorbarr Sultana University and is generally regarded as the Empire's authority on the subject. He is Emperor Gregor's go-to Auditor for technical/scientific issues.
- Cool Old Guy
- Genius' Sweet Tooth
- Gentleman and a Scholar: Mildly subverted; he tends to prefer slightly oversized clothing with big pockets to more fashionable/appropriate garb. His wife the Professora is a better example on the Distaff side.
- Happily Married
Byerly "By" Vorrutyer
Town Clown, impoverished, imprudent, and impervious to put-downs, but very witty. Also an ImpSec informer, thought by some to be reporting to Lady Alys Vorpatril.
- Agent Provocateur: Manipulates his cousin Richars into prematurely sending goons to attack his other cousin Dono so as to sabotage his case against the other.
- Ambiguously Gay: Or at least (possibly) bisexual.
- Continuity Nod: In Memory an exasperated Alys complains about a "certain nameless wit, or halfwit" suggesting she should start including boys in her bride search for Gregor. In A Civil Campaign we are introduced to Byerly.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Expy: considering A Civil Campaign is partially An Ideal Husband In Space, Byerly comes off very much as one to Oscar Wilde (or at least one of Wilde's stock characters)
- Hidden Depths: Impsec, of course, but also his reason for it; a woman who's become something of a confidant speculates that he has an obsession not so much with punishing the guilty as with clearing the innocent, resulting from the details of an ugly family quarrel.
- Ivan thinks that By makes his living "through a weird sort of loyalty."
And somewhere underneath the persiflage, camouflage, and just plain flage, he was high Vor of the highest...
Commander later Admiral Elli Quinn
Former Oseran mercenary; devastatingly beautiful because after her face got burned off by plasma fire in one of his first battles, Miles bought her a very nice new one. Since then she's used it, plus superlative competence and a hilariously twisted personality, to spectacular effect in the Dendarii. Also sleeping with Miles, at least until the events of Memory.
- Action Girl
- Character Tic: She bites her nails when she's under serious stress.
- The Faceless: For a period of time. Miles gets her a new one.
- Hot Amazon
- Lady of War: Certainly by the time she takes over Miles' job as Admiral of the Dendarii, plus his working relationship with Barrayan Imperial Security.
- Odd Friendship: With Athosian Non-Action Guy Ethan, eventually.
- Tall, Dark and Bishoujo
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: Has what Miles considers a vile sense of humour; at one point, while in Miles' company, she fends off a marauding suitor by informing him that Miles can do push-ups with his tongue.
Captain Elena Bothari-Jesek
Miles' childhood friend and crush, the daughter of Sergeant Bothari, an Action Girl constrained by Barrayan social norms...until she takes a role in Miles' new mercenary-ing endeavor and gets to spread her wings. Marries Baz Jesek (despite an Anguished Declaration of Love from Miles...bad timing, son) after her father's death.
- Action Girl
- Child by Rape: She is one, which is part of why she and Miles can't find any info on her mother before they decamp to Beta Colony.
- Happily Married
- Hot Amazon
- Missing Mom: Well, she was missing, right up until she walked in and shot Elena's father, Sergeant Bothari, to death right in front of her. Mother and daughter do eventually manage to reconcile, despite the circumstances surrounding both Elena's conception and their deadly first meeting.
Commodore Baz Jesek
An honest, very competent Barrayan tech who deserted after a particularly harrowing combat experience gave him PTSD, Baz was scraping by in a Betan waste centre when Miles found him and took him under his wing for the mission that wound up launching Admiral Naismith and the Dendarii Mercenaries. Baz later rose high in the ranks of the Dendarii, married Miles' childhood friend and crush Elena (after being Baba'd by Miles himself, no less), and later retired with Elena to start a family.
- Happily Married
- Dangerous Deserter: Averted. It's his Barrayan-bred Action Girl wife you want to watch out for.
- Mr. Fixit
Captain Bel Thorne
A Betan hermaphrodite and highly competent mercenary who becomes captain of the Ariel as a result of Miles's conquest of the Oseran fleet.
- Berserk Button: During "Labyrinth", develops one re: the powerful Jacksonian Houses that deal in the flesh trade (particularly Houses Bharaputra and Ryoval). This later leads Bel to betray Miles by helping Mark launch a rescue operation on some clones from House Bharaputra that ends up deep-sixing Bel's career with the Dendarii. It doesn't express regret for the outcome, only for having let Miles down.
- Bi the Way: in the most literal way possible
- Chivalrous Pervert
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Seems to have caught it off Miles by "Labyrinth", and in "Mirror Dance" it costs Bel its job.
- Did Not Get The Cute Quaddie: Or so it appears by the end of "Labyrinth", anyway, but by "Diplomatic Immunity"...
- Happily Partnered: With Nicol, as of "Diplomatic Immunity". They're even planning a family together.
- It's Personal: Any kind of Playing with Syringes behaviour, especially by the profit-hungry Jacksonian major houses. Bel's a member of a genetically-engineered minority and knows where that road can lead.
- Pronoun Trouble: Bel (and other genetically-engineered Betan hermaphrodites) prefer the use of the pronoun "it"; during Diplomatic Immunity Bel explains that "it" doesn't have the same unfortunate connotations in Betan usage as it does on certain other planets.
Formerly a captain in the Oseran mercenaries, Ky Tung hit it off much better with the young genius "Admiral Naismith" than with his pragmatic boss Oser, and took Miles under his wing.
- Ascended Fanboy: Of Aral Vorkosigan's mad tactical skills.
- Cool Old Guy
- Honour Before Reason: While more practical than Miles about it, Ky is a warrior and tactician first, a mercenary second; Proud Warrior Race Guy Miles appreciated this quality, Oser didn't. Guess who got to benefit from Ky's brains and experience, not to mention his loyalty?
- Old Master: Takes on Miles as a tactical and military apprentice.
- Passing the Torch: To Elli, after he decides to retire to Earth and get married.
- Worthy Opponent: To Miles in "The Warrior's Apprentice", before they became allies.
An eight-foot-tall genetically engineered super-soldier with fangs and claws, Taura was rescued from Jackson's Whole by Miles and joined up with the Dendarii, becoming a valued fleet member and also Miles' lover (well, one of them). Taura is both a highly competent soldier, and immensely strong and fast in addition to her sheer size. Unfortunately, this comes at a terrible price, as her extremely high metabolism and overall genetic design means that her natural lifespan was cut very short; by the time she and her batch mates from the super soldier group were in their mid-to-late teens, she was the only one who hadn't died of old age. Miles sets the Dendarii fleet medics to prolonging her life, and it works until Cryoburn, when Sergeant Taura passes away aged thirty.
Under the muscle, confidence, and competence is a woman described by Miles as something of a fairy princess at heart. If kept away from pink things, frills, and bows, Taura is strikingly attractive. By the end of "Winterfair Gifts", she partners up with kindred spirit Armsman Roic.
- Action Girl
- Beware the Nice Ones: In spite of the teeth, she's quite sweet. Unless someone threatens a loved one, in which case the "fairy princess" turns into a monster:
Taura: The little man is mine. Hurt him one little bit, and I'll tear your head off and drink your blood.
- Big Eater: Her metabolism is stuck in permanent overdrive due to House Bharaputra's genetic tinkering.
- Friends with Benefits: With Miles, though she's clearly more than a little sad to see him taken off the market in "Winterfair Gifts".
- Game Face: She can make grown men wet themselves with hers.
- Huge Girl Tiny Guy: A necessary consequence of being eight feet tall, particularly where Miles is concerned.
- Intimate Psychotherapy: How Miles keeps her from acting on her suicidal impulses in "Labyrinth".
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: She takes apparent comfort, during the events of "Winterfair Gifts", in the fact that Ekaterin obviously loves Miles deeply, and vice versa.
- Pink Means Feminine: Taura's initial efforts to pretty up are informed by this, despite multiple people pointing out that hot though she is, pink frills don't do her any favours.
- Rescue Romance: five words: "He came back for me."
- She Cleans Up Nicely: With a bit of help from Lady Alys. Armsman Roic concurs.
- Super Soldier: A genetically engineered soldier built by a committee with no actual soldiers on it. It would be hilarious, except...see below.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: With Ellie Quinn. Ironically, beautiful Ellie is the tomboy. Taura's the girly one.
- Your Days Are Numbered: A built-in component of her Super Soldier status. It bothers her lover and C.O. Miles more than it does her: she's too busy living her life as hard as she can to waste time feeling sorry for herself.
Pilot Officer Mayhew first appears near the end of the first Vokosigan Saga novel, Shards of Honor as a young, inexperienced cargo ship pilot, who Cordelia cons into giving her a lift, off the books, to Escobar when she has to escape from her home world of Beta Colony.
Eighteen years later a young Miles Vorkosigan, on Beta Colony to visit his grandmother, overhears some people talking about a down on his luck jump pilot who has taken his obsolete ship hostage, and is threatening to blow it up to save it from the wreckers, and then he recognizes the pilot's name, and decides to help him out.
When Miles first meets Arde, he is an alcoholic (and possibly other drug addicted) washed up pilot who has been rendered technologically obsolete. His neural implants, necessary to guide a ship through a wormhole jump, are for an obsolete system, and the ship he's holding is the last of its kind, the only one he can pilot. He has been medically rejected for getting new implants, so Miles decides to buy his ship, and hire Arde to pilot it.
In order to get Arde out of his legal troubles, Miles swears him as an Armsman, which lets him cover Arde under his own Class III diplomatic immunity (or at least keep the lawyers arguing about it long enough for them to get out of the system.)
- The Alcoholic: When Miles first meets him, he's devolved to this.
- Becoming the Mask: Though a Betan, he learns to behave like a devoted Armsman when Miles is around. Including ramming his precious ship into an enemy vessel, because "it didn't seem to me that a, a right and proper Armsman ought to be sitting on his ass" while his lord got killed. Sergeant Bothari actually smiled and said, "Welcome to my lord's service -- Armsman."
Crown Prince Serg Vorbarra
- Domestic Abuse: Hinted at in the behaviour of his widow Princess Kareen.
- Glory Hound: Unlike Miles, very much not a positive example.
- The Evil Prince: Despite having no brothers to worry about inheriting instead of him Serg still tried to assassinate his father -- his very elderly and already terminally ill father -- twice, just because he was that impatient. He's also spoiled, petulant, sadistic, a serial rapist, a multiple murderer, and outright psychopathic. After finally facing the necessity his father Ezar went to starkly unbelievable lengths to make damn sure Serg predeceased him, and most of the protagonists couldn't actually say Ezar was wrong here even though they direly wanted to.
Vice-Admiral Ges Vorrutyer
- Depraved Bisexual: Unlike his ex-boyfriend (and ex-brother in law) Aral, Ges plays this deadly straight. He even starts referencing the Marquis de Sade.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Breaking Bothari and then turning him loose on Cordelia while armed was the last, if not the worst, mistake Ges ever made.
- If I Can't Have You: Towards Aral.
- Smug Snake: Is entirely too convinced he has Cordelia Naismith at his mercy because she's tied down and naked.
Commander Cavilo / Livia Nu
- Blondes Are Evil
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: One of her defining traits. Though to be fair, Stanis Metzov really had it coming.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: "Stanis, darling..."
- Not So Different: From Miles, a fact that a number of his friends and allies are quick to hang a lampshade or five on. The only real difference is that Miles does what he does for other people, whereas Cavilo is really only out for herself.
- The Vamp: And she's terribly effective at it, though not enough to take Gregor in.
- Xanatos Gambit
"The key of strategy, little Vor, is not to choose a path to victory, but to choose so that all paths lead to a victory."
- Body Horror: His House's stock in trade.
- Circling Monologue
- Cold-Blooded Torture
- Grand Theft Me: Despite going well on a century, Ryoval looks like a young man...because, in the words of Mark, he's wearing the corpse of a clone.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Torturing Mark until he got Dissociative Identity Disorder amused Ryoval...and ultimately let Killer off the leash.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Herod: While he got pretty close to killing his entire family, he didn't quite succeed, and the survivors are his enemies, particularly his brother Baron Fell.
- Mind Rape: His favourite kind, after having gotten bored with the more traditional sort.
- Torture Technician: Has a whole stable full of them, and indulges from time to time for his own amusement.
Ser David Galen
- Abusive Parents: To Mark, despite Mark being a clone. He didn't leave his biological son Duv Galeni many happy memories either, if their interactions are anything to go by.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: After abusing and torturing Mark to train him into the perfect Tyke Bomb, Mark turns on him and shoots him dead.
- Jumping Off of the Slippery Slope: While his hatred of Barrayar in general and Aral Vorkosigan in particular is understandable, if somewhat misguided, his pursuit of his aims is totally despicable.
- Revenge: His motivation.
- Windmill Crusader: His sister died in the Solstice Massacre, an event widely attributed to Aral Vorkosigan's orders, and Ser Galen desperately wants to avenge both his personal loss and the Barrayan occupation of Komarr. Shame about his methods, and his grip on reality, and the fact that his idea of "training" includes sodomizing Mark with a shock stick for the unforgivable crime of trying to sneak out for a date with a girl... Galen's own subordinates thought that was going too far, and begged him to stop.
Doctor Ethan Urquhart
- Fish Out of Water: When he first gets to Kline Station. Ethan's from an all-male Planet of Hats that has no contact with women at all.
- Odd Friendship: Between super-responsible, straight-laced Invisible to Gaydar Non-Action Guy Ethan and snarky badass Action Girl Elli Quinn. One's a strictly religious downsider, the other a spacer mercenary: together they take on agents of the Cetagandan Empire!
- Nice Guy: First to his irresponsible nitwit of a foster brother/boyfriend Janos, then to troubled Cetagandan gene-spliced super-agent Terrence Cee, with much more success to the latter than the former.
- Non-Action Guy: At first.
- Invisible to Gaydar
- Took a Level In Badass
- Babies Ever After: What he was trying to do with Janine, and what eventually ended up happening in spite of her death.
- Bi the Way
- Defusing the Tykebomb: The Cetagandans engineered him to be the perfect superagent, but with a little basic human kindness, Doctor Urquhart almost manages to reduce him to tears.
- Telepathy: An unusual case: his is chemically generated.
Son of Komarran terrorist Ser Galen, Duv joined the Barrayaran army after getting his PHD in Barrayaran history. An ambitious political climber, he hopes to rise in the ranks to better help his native Komarr. In Memory, he became engaged to Delia Koudalka; by Captain Vorpatril's Alliance they have "a toddler and an infant."
- The Atoner
- Badass Bookworm
- Badass Bureaucrat
- Bait and Switch Tyrant: Miles initially thinks he's a deliberately obstructive superior plotting against him, but that turns out to not be the case. He and Miles end up (somewhat uneasy) friends. In Komarr, Miles even refers to him as a close friend.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Duv is highly educated, well-read, does everything by the book ... and after a really bad week, took down a couple of Cetagandan ghem commandos with his bare hands.
- Deadpan Snarker: As one of Miles' former commanding officers it comes naturally.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Subverted; he loses Laisa Toscane to the Emperor, but by the end of the same book he's pretty solid with Delia Koudelka.
- Foil To Miles
- Happily Married
- Stop Helping Me! Again to Miles after Miles, having accidentally sabotaged his chances with Laisa Toscane by introducing her to Gregor, offers to assist Duv in his courtship of Delia Koudelka.
The Durona Group.
A medical clinic and biological research and development firm run by a group of nearly 40 clones. Formally serfs to Jackson Whole's Baron Fell. Now set up at Escobar.
- Intimate Healing: Rowan Durona practices this with Miles.
- Theme Naming: All of the women are named after flowers, all of the men are named after birds.
- Truly Single Parent Lily Durona
Mark's Escobaran business partner and creator of the Butterbug
- The Absent Minded Professor: So VERY
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: Obsessed with his Butterbugs, thinks customizing his butterbugs (which look like a giant cross between a cockroach and a termite) with his host's livery is a way to get on his good side, and writes poetry!
- Lovable Nerd: Well... Martya seems to like him.
- Man Child: He doesn't need an assistant he needs a keeper.
- Stupid Crooks: Before meeting Mark, Enrique had sold several hundred percent of Butterbug stock to his investors. Notably, he didn't even seem aware that this might be illegal. "I was going to pay them back!"
Gifted Quaddie musician rescued from indentured servitude on Jackson's Whole by Miles and Bel. Has a second pair of arms instead of legs, which is a disability in gravity but gives her a huge advantage in free fall.
- Damsel in Distress: The closest thing to a traditional one in the whole series
- Rescue Romance: with Bel.
- Transhuman Alien: Genetically engineered for free fall.
- Her several brothers used to tease her by rhyming the first syllable of "Ludmilla" with such words as "mud," "blood," "cud" (what a cow chews), "dud".... Naturally she's sick of it. (It should rhyme more with "good.")