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Characters for the ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga''. Beware of copious spoilers!

[[folder:Political Powers]]


Isolated from the rest of known space for centuries by an accident that cut off contact with the rest of humanity, Barrayar survived by reverting to a feudal system based on a [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy warrior caste]]. Unfortunately, their welcome back to the greater galaxy came in the form of an invasion by the Cetagandan empire, which they ultimately defeated through sheer bloody-mindedness (and perhaps being simply too crazy to give up). Barrayar 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 TheEmperor at their head. The homeworld of Miles, who has to deal with Barrayar's nasty prejudice against [[GeniusCripple mutants like him]], and the focus (and often the setting) of the Vorkosigan series.

* BattleButler: Armsmen. Each count is allowed twenty bodyguards, and only twenty bodyguards. Any more counts as a private army and is grounds for execution. Consequently, they tend to pick the cream of the crop.
* TheClan: Every Vor house.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: Somewhat tamed by now. Miles' father Aral actually ''survived'' being Regent to Gregor until his majority, and since then [[TheWisePrince Gregor]] has been applying his foster-father's lessons, toning down both the decadence and the deadliness.
** More deadly than decadent. When an assassin appears during a session of the Counts, their first instinct is to charge him, not run away.
--->'''Miles:''' Only on Barrayar would pulling a loaded needler start a stampede ''toward'' one.
%%* FamilyHonor
* FantasticRacism: Against mutants, disabled people and all genetic strangeness. It was only recently that infanticide was banned, and it still goes on in secret in parts of the back country. The prejudice is both understandable (mutations were historically a gigantic problem for the isolated Barrayaran colonists) and spurs much of Miles Vorkosigan's actions (viewed as a "mutie" by Barrayaran society, he struggles to prove himself in the face of unreasoning hatred). A more minor prejudice is between the speakers of various Earth-descended languages, but it can be dangerous as well; it's mentioned that riots along linguistic divisions are political points to take into consideration.
** In the later volumes this feels like somewhat of an InformedFlaw. In ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance'', for instance, Rish doesn't face much prejudice, certainly less than she would have faced in twenty-first century Earth. By that time however prejudice against "muties" was becoming less fashionable among the elites. Byerly suggests that Rish is so far on the other side of the UncannyValley that she's [[RefugeInAudacity beyond what Barrayarans think of as a "mutie"]].
%%* FeudalFuture
* HadToBeSharp: Between eugenic infanticide, living on a {{Deathworld}}, being isolated from technology for centuries, living in political turmoil, and then surviving the Cetagandans, pretty much yeah.
** Maybe that's [[MotherRussiaMakesYouStrong Mother Barrayar Makes You Strong?]]
%%* HonorBeforeReason
* IGaveMyWord: An important part of the Vor code. ''Very'' important. Their whole system of government is based on verbal compacts -- if you swear an oath, you better damn well mean it.
* KlingonScientistsGetNoRespect: Subverted. The most honored profession is soldiering but scientists do in fact get respect. It seems to have played straighter in earlier generations.
** Some of the most prestigious scientific institutions (notably the Imperial Military Hospital) are themselves attached to the military, making for a bit of a zig-zag. Cordelia, who is in fact a brilliant scientist as all survey captains have to be, is usually remembered either as "Aral's embarrassingly eccentric wife", or "The woman who [[MoreDeadlyThanTheMale brought the usurper's head home in a bag.]]"
* NobleBigot: Add HonorBeforeReason to FantasticRacism and this is roughly what you get. They are getting a bit better about it, though.
* NeverBeHurtAgain: The remembrance of the Cetagandan Occupation.
* ProudWarriorRace: the Vor.
* PlanetOfHats: To just about everyone else in the Nexus, Barrayarans generally are a ProudWarriorRace. A visitor from Escobar expresses surprise at how "normal" the planet looks. He was expecting it to be all paved over and covered with [[MillionMookMarch soldiers marching around in formation]]. Another from Jackson's Whole "half expected to see gutted buildings with blackened timbers still smoking, bomb craters in the streets, and haunted, emaciated people scurrying like rats among the barricades." But since Barrayar is the primary setting of the stories, we get a more complex view, beyond the militaristic Vor class.
* LaResistance: During the Cetagandan occupation.
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeBureaucratized: Inverted. They learned how to make a professional military force by fighting the Cetagandans and the spinoff from that is helping Barrayar evolve into a modern state.
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized: They were already not civilized when the Cetagandans arrived. They just channeled their barbarity into LaResistance.
* RisingEmpire: Just recently conquered Komarr and founded a colony at Sergyar. Does not seem to have any more interest in expansionism at the moment.
* RockBeatsLaser: When invaded by Cetaganda they were at a serious technological disadvantage and rove them off using guerilla tactics.
* {{Ruritania}}: In space.
* [[ScrewYouElves Screw You Cetaganda]]: And sometimes [[ForeverWar kill you]].
* SecretPolice: [=ImpSec=]
* SettlingTheFrontier: Much of Barrayar's history and culture is about terraforming. The South Continent is still being settled, as is the newly-discovered planet Sergyar.
* WeAreStrugglingTogether: Until recently, mostly during the latter part of Gregor's reign.


A planet where everyone lives in domed cities, due to the planet's atmosphere not being breathable, 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 LaResistance against the Barrayarans, but this is losing popularity as Komarr and Barrayar become more integrated.

* LesCollaborateurs: Komarrans in Barrayaran service. More sympathetic than most, particularly [[BadassBureaucrat Duv Galeni]]. Also, the Komarrans to the Cetagandans during the Barrayaran Occupation, at least in Barrayar's view.
* GadgeteerGenius: Every city is built under a protective dome and the planets great project is to terraform the whole planet. They are thus very tech-savvy and make splendid engineers.
* NeutralNoLonger: The original Komarran shareholders voted to let the Cetagandans through fully aware they weren't off to give Barrayar fruit baskets, but they still viewed themselves as neutral. A generation or two later, the Barrayarans dropped in, with armed ships, to let them know ''they'' felt differently and they haven't left since.
* PlanetOfHats: Komarr is all about business. The basic "democratic" unit is a shareholder, not a voter. Individuals can gain more shares (and hence votes) by financially contributing to the development of the planet, and these shares are transferable (via inheritance for example).
* ProudMerchantRace: Supposedly patterned on [[RecycledInSpace Medieval Venice -- IN SPACE!]]
* PuppetState: Ruled entirely by Barrayar.
* TheRemnant: [[spoiler: Ser Galen, Duv Galeni's father]] certainly was.
* YouWillBeAssimilated: 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 Barrayarans paying for an expansion of Komarr's artificial solar array (to help with their terraforming) -- and also quite a few prominent Barrayarans and Komarrans getting married across planet lines. This includes the Barrayaran Emperor himself to a member of one of Komarr's most prominent oligarchic families.
** Barrayar, however, leaves Komarr to its own planetary governing as before. It's only that there's another layer ''above'' it, and it rarely makes any imposition on the government. If anything, Barrayar has made life ''easier'' for Komarr, thanks to having very powerful military escorts for their trade fleets. Miles muses that most of Komarr's current mundane problems like traffic laws bogged down by voting deadlocks would do better with a monarchy than a democracy.

Third planet in the Barrayaran Empire. The planet and nearby wormholes providing a convenient shortcut to Escobar were discovered by Barrayar shortly before ''Shards of Honor''. It was then ''rediscovered'' by Captain Cordelia Naismith of the Betan Astronomical Survey, bringing her into conflict with the Barrayaran local commander Aral Vorkosigan and kicking off the whole saga. The population is still rather low, and it's often referred to as Chaos Colony. After Aral's heart attack and subsequent retirement as Prime Minister following the events of ''Mirror Dance'', Gregor appoints Aral and Cordelia Viceroy and Vicereine, a joint co-appointment.

* ChekhovsVolcano: Averting this is at the top of Cordelia's agenda for the last year of her viceroyalty, by shifting the planet's capital city away from a dormant volcano, even though it isn't likely to blow for decades.
-->'''Cordelia''': The future of Kareenburg is a ''lava flow''. If the earthquakes don't get it first.
%%* SettlingTheFrontier

!!Beta Colony

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 [[ScienceHero Science Heroes]]...just don't run afoul of their [[HollywoodPsych therapists]].

* ArmsDealer: A major line of business for them. But if they're selling you the "latest new weapon" you can bet that they're holding the defense against that weapon in their back pockets. Beta Colony sells leading edge weapons, but only after they are confident that those weapons can't be used against ''them.''
* BoldExplorer: Their Astronomical Survey Corp, which also functions as a kind of military, almost like an {{expy}} of [[Franchise/StarTrek Starfleet]].
* FreeLoveFuture: Not quite "free" as in lawless. Their only sexual rules are "don't be deceptive with your earrings" (the signals of one's sexual status) and "don't have children without a license". But [[EveryoneHasStandards these are kept fanatically.]]
* FutureFoodIsArtificial: As Beta Colony has no naturally occurring biosphere, virtually all their locally-produced consumable organics are done in interior grow houses or are vat-grown cultures.
* GadgeteerGenius: Strongly encouraged. Even their [[TheCaptain Astronomical Survey ship captains]] are expected to have academic qualifications that professional scientists from other colonies consider daunting.
* IntimatePsychotherapy: Licensed Practical Sexuality Therapists are a respected profession. To people from other colonies it looks more like UnproblematicProstitution.
* PlanetOfHats: Most within the Nexus strongly identify Beta Colony with social liberalism and technological innovation.
* PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad: Certainly in the view of a lot of terminally old-fashioned Barrayarans. 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.
* PopulationControl: Because of limited space in the colony, a license is needed to have children. It is very rare to be authorized to have more than two children.
* ProudScholarRace: Of the Scientist variety.
* UndergroundCity: Beta Colony was settled before the discovery of wormhole travel, and the planetary surface is actually very inhospitable to human life. Therefore the colony is underground and space is at a premium (hence the strict population control). Large open spaces are few in number, so Betans favor interior design over architecture as an art form.


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. [[ForeverWar In many ways, it remains the main opponent of the Vorkosigan series as, unlike Barrayar, Cetaganda generally favours expansion]], [[spoiler: 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.]]

* BureaucraticallyArrangedMarriage: A haut lady who doesn't make "the cut" may be given to a distinguished ghem as a bride.
** MistreatmentInducedBetrayal: ...and some of them may become sufficiently peeved at that to say "Fuck Cetaganda!" Lady Moira ghem Estif[[note]]Tej's grandma[[/note]] certainly was one of these.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: The ghem and the haut both have this going on, both individually and to some extent against each other.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: The Haut sound like the [[Franchise/{{Dune}} Bene Gesserit]].
* TheEmpire: Expansionist, with a preference for targeting weak and isolated planets for conquest. Hence Barrayar seemed like an ideal target since the Time of Isolation had left them in MedievalStasis. That did not end well. Cetaganda is still prone to eyeballing other potential conquests, but is somewhat checked by a number of the more advanced and powerful planets being willing to oppose their expansionism.
* EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench: Cetagandans are depicted as haughty, sophisticated and with their entire culture suffused with making everything beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, and their society key elements often have a french name ("Haut", "Ba(s)", "Crèche"...).
* EvilutionaryBiologist: While plenty of other worlds could also do this given their technology, Cetaganda stands alone in designing their whole society around it.
* FantasticCasteSystem: The haut geneticist caste ruling over the ghem warrior caste with the workers below both.
* InhumanlyBeautifulRace: Specifically bred to be.
* MadArtist: Even their bioweapons are artistic.
* MasterRace: Their society is build around attempting to evolve themselves into an example of this trope. Miles notes at one point that they do not currently consider this process complete. What they will have become by the time they do consider themselves finished, not even they can guess.
* MeaningfulName: While ‘haut’ (a corruption of ‘haute’, or ‘high’, in French) is an entirely literal descriptor of the Cetagandan ruling caste, it also carries certain other connotations in English. ‘Haute couture’ is the far end of fashion - taboo-breakingly innovative, obscenely expensive, exotically beautiful, and (often) completely impractical. The haut, meanwhile, are the same principle applied to human beings rather than clothing.
* PlanetOfHats: Everything revolves around eugenic breeding, and genetic fitness defines an individual's role in the society.
* ProudWarriorRace: The Ghem were created that way, and it's hinted that Vorish delegates might actually get along with them because they're NotSoDifferent. However, while this is still the case among soldiers and security like Colonel Benin, out-of-work Court Ghem are a subversion -- often so exaggeratedly refined that they make Ivan look as fierce as Bloody Pierre by comparison.
* [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Scary Dogmatic Humans]]: Perhaps more [[StarfishAliens Starfishy]] than Scary Dogmatic. Still...
* SecretWar: With Barrayar. [[ForeverWar Constantly]]. Though at the current stage it's more of a SpaceColdWar.
* ShoutOut: Cetagandan Haut Ladies all look like extras from a Creator/LeijiMatsumoto anime.
* SpaceColdWar: With Barrayar, after their failed invasion.
* SpaceElves: Sort of. Humans who are deliberately evolving themselves into Space Elves
* TranshumanAliens: Perhaps not quite, but if the haut breeding program continues on schedule... soon. Arguably the haut are already there.
* YouHaveFailedMe: The fate of members of the ghem warrior caste who do disappointing things like not outwitting Miles.

!!Jackson's Whole

Planet ruled by criminal houses where you can get ''anything'' for enough money. And that does mean anything.

* AlwaysChaoticEvil: Even the "good" Jacksonians are charmingly amoral.
* ArmsDealer: Inevitably. A little seedier than Beta, to say the least.
* BetterTheDevilYouKnow: Miles once reflects grimly that if Jackson's Whole didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent it. The galaxy can keep all its scum there, away from everyone else but still within convenient reach. And since every imaginable abuse of technology occurs there, nobody else has be the ones to develop them.
* TheClan: Each criminal house.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: What passes for a "respectable" Jacksonian would count as this.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Of the Heinleinian notion of a libertarian utopia, showing just how dystopian such a society would likely be in reality. It's named for Jackson Hole (formerly Jackson's Hole) in Wyoming, USA, a valley that since the early 1980s has hosted a "summer camp for bankers." This popularity for the rich has had adverse effects on property values and costs of services, which (to prey upon rich tourists) have grown so high that locals can face a serious economic burden. Not entirely unlike what life must be like for common people on the Whole.
* DoYouWantToHaggle: Someone who can do this well is admired. Ezar's skill in keeping Sergyar after the Escobar war is taught to Jacksonian children.
* {{Dystopia}}: For anyone not connected to a House -- and even for some who are.
* ExpendableClone: One of the services provided on the planet is making clone slaves tailored for any purpose; mental, physical, sexual -- including clones, perfectly sapient individuals with artificially induced maturity, intended to receive the transplanted brains of wealthy but aging people (the clone's brain is then just medical waste). [[EvenEvilHasStandards No other planet]] allows such things, so if you want ''that'' service desperately enough, this is the only place to get it. However, it is an extremely dangerous procedure -- the transplant doesn't always take. Assuming, of course, all of your surgeons are ''totally'' loyal and didn't "accidentally" misplace the crucial brain...
* IGaveMyWord: The [[EvenEvilHasStandards only]] thing considered sacred here is "the Deal". "Deal" seems to be as much a shibboleth on Jackson's as "Oaths" are on Barrayar.
** ExactWords: However, Jacksonians will bend the wording of the deal as far as it can without snapping.
* TheMafia: The whole planet is basically organized crime.
* NobleDemon: The best one can expect from House Barons, such as Fell.
* PlanetOfHats: It can be bought. No matter what "it" is.
* WretchedHive: The only thing anyone respects on Jackson's Whole is money. Thus, those with the money ''are'' the law, and can buy and sell far more than just your life. (There are law enforcement officials and prisons, but they're essentially organised bounty hunters and pens for human livestock, respectively.) Those unwilling to compromise their morals don't survive long.


A planet settled by a very gynophobic religious group of men after the invention of the uterine replicator makes a society without women possible. Athos holds itself separate from the Galactic Nexus to prevent "contamination" from baleful (i.e. female) outside influences. They even censor Galactic media so that only men with very high clearances have ever even seen pictures of women.

* CultColony: An ultra-radical Christian splinter group, to be exact. Ironically, though the original Founding Fathers were celibate, the long-term result over the course of centuries was to create a society where virtually EveryoneIsGay. Unlike many cases of this trope, the Athosians are not depicted as evil or repressive. Indeed, most of them seem quite content with their way of life and while most inhabitants are religious, they are not fanatically so.
* HasTwoDaddies: Most of the inhabitants do, as helping to raise another man's child is one of the quickest ways to earn social credits toward having one's own child, so a lot of men end up in parenting partnerships where they help raise each other's children. Their relationship of the respective parents is not necessarily a romantic or sexual one, but it often is.
* HeManWomanHater: The Founders of Athos held a religious belief that women are the root cause of all male sin. This attitude persists even among more secular modern Athosians, who believe that women are inherently dangerous to men and thus must be avoided at all costs.
* HomosexualReproduction: Not easy, but they make it work. Sort of. With advances in reproductive science now spreading throughout the Nexus, they may be able to achieve this for real before too long.
* PlanetOfHats: The population of Athos is 100% male. [[spoiler: As of the end of ''Ethan of Athos'', they are on their way to becoming a planet of [[{{Telepathy}} telepaths]] as well]].
* PopulationControl: Relatively easily enforced as a single-sex population necessarily relies entirely on [[UterineReplicator artificial means]]. Reproduction centers are national facilities, and the privilege of having a child conceived there can be bought with "social credits", which any member of the population can earn by volunteering their efforts toward things which benefit the colony directly. One of the quickest ways of earning such credits is to help another man raise one of his children, which also gives the prospective parent experience for when they have their own child.
* SituationalSexuality: Most Athosian men will never even see a woman, nor have their ancestors going back generations. Homosexual relationships are therefore the norm, although some men, implied to be strongly heterosexual, remain celibate instead. Oddly, emigration from Athos is virtually unheard of, possibly because of religious indoctrination about how women can MindControl men.

!!The Union of Free Habitats (Quaddiespace)

Home to the setting's largest society of TranshumanAliens, Quaddiespace is situated in a star system with no habitable planets. The original quaddies (humans genetically engineered for free fall with a second pair of arms in place of legs) chose it because it gives them an advantage over any "downsiders" who come to visit. Graf Station was created out of the remains of the spaceship they stole in their escape from slavery to the corporation that created them. Since they were bred to be laborers, their society is based on the work gang.

* AsteroidMiners: And they are singularly good at it, since they don't have to drag anything into or out of planetary gravity wells.
* CallBack: They pause in their escape to rescue Madame Minchenko, a music teacher and concert violinist. Two centuries later, the Minchenko ballet is their crowning cultural accomplishment.
* DancingIsSeriousBusiness: One of the things they are most proud of is their null-grav ballet.
* TheMigration: Across several star systems. "The Crossing" is the subject of a classic ballet. "Keep boosting" indeed.
* OnlyOneName: Quaddies do not have last names. Originally all living quaddies had unique names derived from their serial numbers, but as the population grew from the initial thousand to millions, they had to allow duplication. If someone wants to use a name that someone else already has, they have to attach a numerical suffix to it. "Leo Ninety-nine" is given as an example, which happens to represent a CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming in its way. The highest number ever seen attached to any other name is "Sixteen" (attached to the name of another hero of the migration). The quaddies ''really'' remember Leo Graf fondly.
* PlanetOfHats: Not technically a "planet" per se, but their space-based society is designed for the convenience of people who were genetically engineered for zero gravity and have arms instead of legs. As the descendants of people genetically-engineered to be laborers (And whose greatest cultural hero was an engineer), the quaddies attach great value to doing one's job well. They are impressed by how "task-oriented" Miles is, expecting a downsider ambassador to be more pretentious.
** Their most visible hat is music and dance, since one of their other cultural heroes (a founding mother, as it were) was a music teacher and concert violinist. The first quaddy character introduced is a musician, who takes advantage of null gravity to play a double-sided dulcimer.
* ReluctantWarrior: The last murder before Miles' visit was years ago. Quaddies don't bother to keep a proper forensics team because they have so few murders. And they seem [[CultureClash somewhat confused]] by fairly normal concepts of military discipline like objecting to deserters and [=AWOLs=] (though Barrayarans take it farther than most at the best of times, and in ''Diplomatic Immunity'' were applying it in a very ham-fisted manner). On the other hand, they do at least have a security force and a militia capable of dealing with harbor brawls with reasonable efficiency.
%%* SpaceCossacks
* SpacePeople: They don't need inhabitable planets, and specifically chose a star system without one to avoid competition.
* TranshumanAliens: The biggest and most instantly-recognisable faction thereof in the setting.
* TurnedAgainstTheirMasters: A non-violent example.

!! Earth

The homeworld of humanity, Earth straddles the [[EarthIsTheCenterOfTheUniverse Center of the Universe]] / InsignificantLittleBluePlanet divide. In some ways, it's the first, but in others the second.
-> Earth. Old, romantic, historic Earth, the big blue marble itself. Miles had always expected to travel here someday, although not, surely, under these conditions.\\
Earth was still the largest, richest, most varied and populous planet in scattered humanity's entire worm-hole nexus of explored space. Its dearth of good exit points in solar local space and governmental disunity left it militarily and strategically minor from the greater galactic point of view. But Earth still reigned, if it did not rule, culturally supreme. More war-scarred than Barrayar, as technically advanced as Beta Colony, the end-point of all pilgrimages both religious and secular -- in light of which, major embassies from every world that could afford one were collected here.
--> -- ''Brothers in Arms''
* EarthThatUsedToBeBetter: The homeworld of humanity has been through some rough times, including major wars. While it is by no means a shambles, it has definitely been surpassed in terms of interstellar influence by many of its colonies. Thus Earth is a contradiction in that it possesses a powerful sense of historical significance for all of humankind, but its strategic importance is comparatively low.
* GlobalWarming: Sea levels are much higher on Earth than they used to be, and many major coastal cities are now either protected by elaborate flood barriers or completely submerged.
* InsignificantLittleBluePlanet: Earth is in a cul-de-sac of the the Wormhole Nexus, which makes getting there a bit of a hassle. Its out-of-the-way location puts it off all the major trade routes, resulting in it having less galactic influence than, for example, Tau Ceti. And since SubspaceAnsible technology is absent in this universe, meaning that messages have to be carried by ship through wormholes, Earth could never function as anything even close to a real-time interstellar government.
* OneWorldOrder: Averted. Earth never has quite managed to politically unify its multitude of nations. Which is another major reason why it does not wield more influence throughout the Nexus despite its huge population and level of technological advancement. Colonies that have a PlanetaryNation can often exert greater influence simply by virtue of being able to put forth a single unified economic and political policy.

!! Imperial Security ([=ImpSec=])

Intelligence, counterintelligence, and paramilitary police for the Barrayaran Imperium. Employer of Miles during the first part of the series.

* {{Ambadassador}}: At one time a foreign diplomat they needed to bribe demanded an elephant as his price, even though the nearest elephant was several planets away. [=ImpSec=], of course, [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome provided an elephant]].
* [[BadassArmy Badass Intelligence Agency]]: They are one of the best secret services in the nexus and employ some of the scariest people on Barrayar. When Miles sees a Jacksonian crime lord viciously assassinated in ''Mirror Dance'', he muses that it was probably not [=ImpSec=] -- not because they wouldn't have done that, but because they would have been more efficient about it.
* BigLabyrinthineBuilding: [=ImpSec=] headquarters.
* {{Bizarrchitecture}}: The [=ImpSec=] building is a RunningGag on Barrayar for being [[SoBadItsGood so unconscionably hideous, it's hilarious]], a massive block of concrete with no windows, too many steps that are set too high, and gargoyles carved into every outer face. The gargoyles are actually made into cartoon characters and it was [[TheSpymaster Simon Illyan's]] greatest wish to be able to budget for a new building.
%%* ConsummateProfessional
%%* CrazyPrepared
* CreepyGood: A bunch of paranoid, conspiracy-obsessed spies with some extremely sinister methods and a disturbing history, but they're kept on a leash by Gregor.
%%* TheDreaded
* EnigmaticEmpoweringEntity: [=ImpSec=] is the personality of Simon Illyan writ large.
%%* GoodIsNotNice
%%* GoodIsNotSoft
%%* GovernmentAgencyOfFiction
* InterserviceRivalry[=/=]JurisdictionFriction: Between Operations, Service Security, and Komarran police. With Komarran police, it has a nationalistic tinge, and the Auditors have a rivalry with ''everyone'' because [[InternalAffairs that's their job]].
* MadArtist: The building was designed by Yuri's favorite architect. Both men had extremely idiosyncratic taste. It shows.
* MuseumOfTheStrangeAndUnusual: The bottom floor of the headquarters contains weapons, drugs, poisons, and various and sundry nefarious things catalogued meticulously.
** After it's destroyed in ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance'', Mark opens it up to the public for profit.
* PraetorianGuard: They guard the Emperor and various dignitaries. They also train the Vorbarra armsmen. They are decidedly not to be screwed with.
* RecycledInSpace: Something like a more benign (if not exactly [[GoodIsNotNice nice]]) [[UsefulNotes/TsaristRussia Okhrana]].
* SecretPolice: Downplayed version; not nearly as vicious as some incarnations of this trope and well under the control of TheGovernment.
%%* ShroudedInMyth
* SilentPartner: Only a few of the Dendarii know who Miles is or who his employer is.
%%* SinisterSurveillance
* TortureCellar: Subverted. The lowest sub-basement was such a cellar, once upon a time. [[TheCaligula Yuri]] kept ''lots'' of people there, [[PragmaticVillainy Ezar]] kept a few, mostly those whom he had a rational reason to fear, and Aral mostly closed down its function as a dungeon. During the early part of Gregor's reign it was converted into a forensic warehouse, and a new, modern detention facility was created in the upper section. During different conspiracy panics, both Simon and Duv end up there (Simon in the old facility, Duv in the new) for a week or two until an investigation is finished. On both occasions it's commented that it does well for the perspective of a spymaster to be on the other end of the process. In Miles' time, it's mostly used to keep seized items from [=ImpSec=] missions. Once in a while, a prisoner who is too important to put anywhere else ends up there until they figure out what to do with him.

!!Dendarii Mercenaries

Merc band formed by Miles' acting ability. Given a standing contract with [=ImpSec=], at first to give a loophole to avoid the law against Vor having private armies and later because they are useful. Led by Admiral Naismaith.

%%* BadassArmy
* CatchPhrase: Daring Rescues Our Specialty.
%%* TheCavalry
* MeaningfulName: Named after the Dendarii mountains on Barrayar.
* PlausibleDeniability: Their main purpose is to carry out missions that would be diplomatically awkward for the regular Imperial Service.
%%* PrivateMilitaryContractors


[[folder:Vorkosigan House]]

!!The Vorkosigans

Tropes that apply to the whole Vorkosigan clan:

* BadassFamily: 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''...
* BewareTheNiceOnes: Both as a whole and as individuals. As a whole, they appear relatively nice for high Vor, and as individuals, the order in which you should choose a Vorkosigan to pick on is: "The Butcher of Komarr", the deformed runt of an Imperial Auditor, the cuddly pacifist Betan, and the chubby businessman. And yes, that is in descending order of preference. And no, it's not a good idea whichever one you go for, because it will pretty definitely catch the attention of the rest.
* DeadpanSnarker: ''All'' of them.
* [[RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething High Vor Who Actually Do Something]]
* UpToEleven: Ivan notes that their motto should be: "Anything worth doing is worth ''overdoing''."
-->'''Ivan:''' God, even the clone...

'''Miles Naismith Vorkosigan'''

-> "Your forward momentum is going to lead all your followers over a cliff someday. On the way down, you'll convince 'em all they can fly. Lead on, my lord. I'm flapping as hard as I can."
--> -- '''Mayhew''' on Miles' leadership style. ''Warrior's Apprentice''

The eldest (originally 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 [[FantasticRacism mutie]]. When he fails his qualifying physical for the Barrayaran military at seventeen, the death of his grandfather and a "breather" trip to Beta Colony with [[UnluckyChildhoodFriend his friend Elena Bothari]] and her father Sergeant Konstantine 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.

Not that Miles [[GuileHero doesn't pay for his victories]] [[EarnYourHappyEnding in blood, sweat, and tears...]]

* AlmightyJanitor: Despite commanding his own mercenary fleet as Admiral Naismith, Miles never manages to rise past the rank of Lieutenant [[spoiler: until after he gets himself fired from [=ImpSec=]]] in the Barrayaran service.
* {{Ambadassador}}: On several occasions.
%%* BadassBookworm
* BatmanGambit: His frequent modus operandi. [[InTheBlood He gets it from both his parents.]]
* BavarianFireDrill: Another tool in his tactical repertoire.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: 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 [[spoiler: 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; 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.
* BigBrotherInstinct: Toward Mark.
* BigDamnHeroes: Miles loves doing this, even when it puts his life on the line. [[spoiler: It gets him KilledOffForReal for the better part of ''Mirror Dance''.]]
* BunnyEarsLawyer: He may be crazy (even his ''own mother'' thinks so), but he's very, very good at what he does.
* BusmansHoliday: Miles can't go anywhere but that something gigantic and political comes down on his head.
* ButNotTooForeign: Since Aral's maternal Grandmother was also a Betan, Miles is actually only 3/8ths Barrayaran. He doesn't tend to call people's attention to the math.
* ChickMagnet: 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 [[spoiler: he still trusted Rowan Durona enough to consider her performing an illicit medical procedure on his brain in ''Memory'', and after ''A Civil Campaign'', Elli sent him a kinky (if snarky) wedding gift and Taura stood as Second to his wife Ekaterin during the marriage ceremony.]]
* DeadpanSnarker: Miles' snark is weapons-grade.
* {{Determinator}}: He takes this to frightening levels. A minor but telling example: [[ItMakesSenseInContext when Ekaterin is hanging over the railing about to go into the Serifosa ornamental pond]], 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 [[spoiler: 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 twice over]], and Ekaterin to the realization that [[spoiler: 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.
* DisabledSnarker
* DudeWheresMyRespect: A major motivator and source of consternation for Miles, especially at the start of the series. Coming to terms with the classified nature of his work is a major part of his character arc.
** In ''Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen'' it's hinted that enough historical dramas about the events of the Hagan Hub have been made for some people to piece together Miles's mercenary work on their own. Almost twenty years later than he would've liked, but still. Officially he can't comment and has to wait for things to be declassified in due course.
* EpicFail:
** The dinner party in A Civil Campaign. Not entirely his fault though.
** Falsifying an [=ImpSec=] report. ''Entirely'' his fault.
* FragileSpeedster: The speed is mostly spiritual, but for the better part of his life a simple fall could shatter his bones like glass.
* GeniusCripple: He has to use his head to overcome his physical, uh, shortcomings. Fortunately, his mind is his deadliest weapon.
* GuileHero: 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.
* [[spoiler: HappilyMarried: to Ekaterin Vorsoisson, after a few false starts.]]
* HeroWithBadPublicity: To a lesser extent than Aral, and only among certain circles. Of course, Miles uses this to his advantage too. Once a disgruntled political opponent implied that Miles' connections allowed him to get away with murder. Miles replied "So if you truly believe that, ''why are you standing in my way?''"
* [[RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething High Vor Who Actually Do Something]]
* InsistentTerminology: 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 [[BlueBlood aristocracy]]. Also, [[spoiler: 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.
* InsaneAdmiral: Though Admiral Naismith is just crazy, not evil.
* InternalAffairs: He is an Auditor in later episodes and that is his main job.
* TheJudge: In "The Mountains of Mourning".
* KnightErrant: Sees himself as one, according to his mother's amateur psychoanalysis. She even asserts his knight errant impulse is so strong a sane government wouldn't allow Miles to possess a pocket knife, let alone a private army.
** In "''The Mountains Of Mourning''" he has a whole InnerMonologue directed to [[TalkingToTheDead a newborn who was killed]] for [[FantasticRacism having a harelip]] where he refers to himself as her knight and swears to prevent future killings.
--> Peace to you, small lady. You've won a twisted poor modern knight, to wear your favor on his sleeve. But it's a twisted poor world we were both born into, that rejects us without mercy and ejects us without consultation. At least I won't [[Literature/DonQuixote just tilt at windmills for you]]. I'll send in sappers to mine the twirling suckers, and blast them into the sky
* ManipulativeBastard: Ivan several times notes that whenever they have a conversation it ends with Miles getting his way.
* MessianicArchetype: At times, particularly during ''Borders of Infinity'' when he started out pretending until he somehow wasn't. The madman who came up with the idea even points out that Miles thinks he's faking, but he's not.
** Even more obvious in ''Mirror Dance'', where he is this for Mark. In the same way that, in Christianity, God is the source of our life, but only becomes 'our Father' because we are adopted into God's family ''because'' Jesus, God's son, died for us, so Mark is genetically the child of Aral and Cordelia, but only actually meets them and accepts his identity as their son because of the events which led up to Miles' being killed while trying to rescue Mark from the chaos of his own [[LeeroyJenkins misguided attempts at heroism]]. And, of course, Miles does come back to life...
* MilitaryMaverick: Despite working within Barrayaran 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 decisively heartfelt curse.
** Towards the end of ''The Vor Game'' Elena notes that Miles has every commanding officer he ever served under locked up in adjacent cells aboard his flagship.
* [[MotherRussiaMakesYouStrong Mother Barrayar Makes Me Strong:]] Even more than most Barrayarans. As a mut-- uh, [[InsistentTerminology teratogenic]] -- on Barrayar, the more old-fashioned find it disturbing that he should be allowed even to live and he is driven to have a successful military career just to prove the value of his existence to himself. The author herself said that she came up with him pondering the most sadistic thing she could possibly do to a character.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Miles really ''really'' regretted allowing Bothari to torture a pilot for information, who later died from complications directly caused by it. The fact he saw an extremely disturbing side of HonoraryUncle Bothari also frightened him.
** In the same book, another disaster occurs [[spoiler: which results in Bothari being killed by one of his Escobaran victims in front of his daughter, that is to say, THEIR daughter, and Miles' very eyes,]] when Miles introduces the unknown complication of Elena Visconti without knowing her history with Barrayar in general and his armsman in particular...
* TheNapoleon: 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 [[ObstructiveBureaucrat obnoxious Barrayaran red tape]] or, more frequently, help somebody else out. In ''Memory'', Illyan is GenreSavvy enough to have discussed cashiering Miles from [=ImpSec=] with Gregor, cutting off the only person Miles could have possibly have appealed to to save him.[[note]]Miles knew better than to ask his father, who would have cut him down faster than Illyan would have.[[/note]]
* PhraseCatcher: "''Unpack'', Miles."
%%* ReasonableAuthorityFigure
%%* ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight
* SecretIdentityIdentity: 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 [[WhamEpisode Memory]].
* ShellShockedVeteran: Miles does not escape his military career scot-free, if his constant nightmares are any indication.
* TechnicallyASmile: Miles is good at this. In ''A Civil Campaign'', Miles "manufactures" a smile for Richars. Shortly after:
-->The smile transmuted to pure snarl. He stormed around the room three times looking for something that wasn't an antique too valuable to break...
* TooCleverByHalf: Miles goes a little too far with his "cleverness" in ''Memory'' when faking a report. He calls it "downright artistic", and wrestles with sending it or the real, undoctored report. He goes with the former and pays the price.
* TryToFitThatOnABusinessCard: As of ''Cryoburn,'' Miles' full title stands as [[spoiler: Imperial Auditor Captain Count Miles Naismith Vorkosigan, Count Vorkosigan]], a mouthful if ever there was one. No telling yet if he will continue to add to that.
* UnluckyChildhoodFriend: To Elena.
* WarriorTherapist: Learnt it from his mother.
* [[WellDoneSonGuy Well Done Grandson Guy]]: To Piotr, at first. [[CharacterDevelopment 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. Miles still feels driven to make his own life "...a golden sacrifice, fit to lay at my father's feet."
* XanatosSpeedChess: Though sometimes, especially early on in his career, Miles's tendency to go off half-cocked can lead to a GambitPileup ''all by himself''.

'''Cordelia Naismith (Countess Vorkosigan)'''

->'''Aral''': I told him... that you poured out honor like a fountain, all around you.\\
'''Cordelia''': That's weird. I don't feel full of honor, or anything else, except maybe confusion.\\
'''Aral''': Naturally not. Fountains keep nothing for themselves.
--> -- ''Shards of Honor''

"The Admiral's Captain": Former Betan Astronomical Survey Captain, retired ScienceHero, certified badass, wife of Aral and mother of Miles [[spoiler: and later Mark. And Aurelia. And maybe more...]].

* BoldExplorer: When first seen in Cordelia's Honor.
* CloudCuckooLander: A lot of Barrayarans 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 [[spoiler: 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.
* CompellingVoice: Her "Ship's Captain" voice turn Kou and Drou to jelly in just seconds, to the amazement of Kareen.
* CoolOldLady: 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 MemeticBadass 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.
* DueToTheDead: Cordelia gives Princess Kareen what she believes is a fitting burnt offering to her death: setting half the Imperial Palace ablaze.
* FishOutOfWater: Initially, Cordelia on Barrayar. After thirty plus years, it's slowly starting to swing the other way.
* FreeLoveFuture: Cordelia has at best amused tolerance of Barrayer's extremely old-fashioned sexual mores as contrasted to her native Beta Colony. However, this does not stop her from [[spoiler: being fully-involved in what was essentially a polyamorous marriage which included Aral's male partner. She muses about how Simon Illyan was truly terrified that she would be outraged when she returned from a trip to Beta Colony and found that her husband had taken up with another man. To his astonishment she treated it as a non-issue and in fact started sleeping with both of them herself]].
* FridgeHorror: A case of it hits her in-universe when she finally realizes the horror her soft-heartedness must have unintentionally inflicted on the unfortunate Lt. Dubauer.
* GoingNative: Averted; she remains stubbornly unassimilated. When [[MamaBear Miles is in danger]] though, she can bring home the villain's head in a basket, thus proving that in this way she has lived up to [[ProudWarriorRace Barrayaran standards]] UpToEleven.
* GoodParents: With Aral. They complement each other as she is the nurturer while Aral is the teacher and role-model.
* HappilyMarried: to Aral, of course.
* ICanChangeMyBeloved: More I Can Change My Beloved's Planet. But Aral lives on the planet, so...
* InformedAttractiveness: Averted. Cordelia is described more than once as physically appealing, but not as a real beauty. It's her personality that really makes her attractive.
* MamaBear:
** After what she goes through in ''Barrayar'' to rescue Miles' uterine replicator, don't you ''dare'' doubt it.
** In ''Mirror Dance'', she hints that if domestic circumstances hadn't intervened, she would have ''personally invaded Jackson's Whole'' to rescue Miles.
** It extends to Mark as well. She has a HeroicBSOD when Mark outright tells her that he ''has'' to risk his life, if only to prove he's not responsible for Aral's death. She gets better when she realizes that Mark needs to prove himself more than she needs him to be safe.
** So much so that at the end of ''Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen'' [[spoiler: her over protective behavior drives her daughter's nanny to ''tears'' more than once. Jole assures the young lady that it's just a relic of her experience with Miles and she'll eventually ease up as she realizes her new daughter isn't made of glass.]]
* MedicateTheMedium: She couldn't reveal the details of how she escaped captivity and participated in a Barrayaran political assassination during the Escobaran war, so her story about being in love with Aral was dismissed as obvious brainwashing.
* MemeticBadass: In-universe, becomes this among the High Vor after the events of ''Barrayar'', although even before the 'shopping trip' various Vor wags were remarking that she supposedly ate battle cruisers for breakfast. Her public image is much lower profile: historian Duv Galeni later refers to her as "the most invisible of political wives" -- Miles responds that she's invisible like oxygen: you don't notice it's there, until it's not.
** Miles later jokes when someone asks him to come shopping with them that "There's an offer seldom made of my mother's son."
** When Count Vorhalas, Aral Vorkosigan's implacable political adversary, threatens to continue to press charges that Miles raised a private army (traditional penalty: death by starvation), Miles simply points out that if Vorhalas presses the issue, he'll have to face Cordelia over it. Count Vorhalas quickly backs down. [[spoiler: It's not just fear, though Miles can't know that. Count Vorhalas was a friend before politics drove them apart. One of his sons was also responsible for the attack that left Miles as physically damaged as he is.]]
** When Mark was being trained to replace Miles, Cordelia's low international profile led him to contemptuously dismiss her as a non-factor in Barrayaran politics; on his entry into Barrayaran society, he notes that her influence is evident in Gregor's governance, and when she goes into {{Determinator}} mode, the only people who seem willing to challenge her are Simon Illyan and Emperor Gregor himself -- and when Simon refuses to get out of her way, she simply plows him under...
** When Cordelia says she'll talk to Kou and Drou on Mark's behalf, Mark expressed doubt. When he asks Miles how she'll handle them, Miles bemusedly replies, "Butter, meet laser beam. Laser beam, meet butter -- oops!"
* MessianicArchetype: Even moreso than her [[spoiler: eldest]] son.
* NobleBigot: Literally, even! She's not called on it explicitly, but endures a lot of suffering trying to strong-arm her way through Vor customs and traditions, and sometimes concedes she's still ''on'' Barrayar, so its lunacy must be contagious.
* NotSoAboveItAll: When Kly tells her gum weed (a chewable tobacco-like substance with caffeine in it to boost) isn't for a high class Vor lady, Cordelia retorts that she's none of the above and needs the pick-me-up.
* NotWhatItLooksLike: Inverted. It's ''exactly'' what it looks like, but no one around her is willing to believe that she could possibly have genuinely fallen in love with Aral and assumes that it's StockholmSyndrome or Barrayaran brainwashing.
* ObnoxiousInLaws: In a way. She seems to think of Barrayar as her [[UpToEleven obnoxious planet in-law]] and her favorite curse word is, "Barrayarans!"
* RememberWhenYouBlewUpASun:
--> '''Adm. Jole''': What’s in the box? Not a severed head—again—I trust?\\
'''Cordelia''': Now, now, Oliver. Bring home one dismembered body part, ''once'', mind you, ''once'', and people get twitchy about checking your luggage ever after.
* SanitySlippage: Admits she's not entirely sane after she burns half the Imperial Palace with an arc thrower in Princess Kareen's honor in ''Barrayar''.
* ShipperOnDeck: All during ''Barrayar'', she's frustrated at Kou and Drou's CannotSpitItOut flirting, and when she's given a chance to make them get together, she does.
* SkunkStripe: Wears one later in life. She makes it accentuate her looks.
* TheSocialExpert:
** Probably the best example in a whole family full of examples. To be fair, she clung to Alys for a very long time, and it's apparent she became a good student under her.
** Interestingly though, in ''Cordelia's Honor'' she implied that she thought herself socially inept because at one time she had been exploited by a selfish lover.
** In ''Mirror Dance'', she tells Mark that she and other Barrayaran women have been changing the planet while the men play war with their toys. She states the ''real'' battle is between the older women who had body births and the younger women who now have the option of the uterine replicator. She states that Vor society is going to change in the next decade, and the men won't see it coming til it's far too late.
--->'''Mark:''' You consider the Vor system an illusion?\\
'''Cordelia:''' I used to. Now I would call it a creation, which, like any living thing, must be continually re-created. I’ve seen the Barrayaran system be awkward, beautiful, corrupt, stupid, honorable, frustrating, insane and breathtaking. Its gets most of the work of government done most of the time, which is about average for any system.
* TeamMom: To everyone. And given that she was Gregor's foster mother, she's arguably one to the entire Empire.
* AThreesomeIsHot: [[spoiler: The more so since GuyOnGuyIsHot as far as Betan Cordelia is concerned. She had no problem with sharing her and Aral's marital bed with the extremely handsome Oliver Jole for about 20 years. Nor does she seem at all worried that this might repeat itself now that Aral is dead and she has continued on with the bisexual Oliver herself. She even dares Jole to kiss the hot blond boy at the kissing booth at a Sergyar fair]].
* {{Tomboy}}: A bit old for the designation, but very much so by Barrayaran standards. Aral calls her "my dear Captain" for a reason. Miles observes that she wears a Barrayaran matron's skirts like a child playing dressup.
* TraumaticHaircut: Cordelia cropped her hair short after Aral passed away. Theee years later, during ''Gentlemen Joel and the Red Queen'', it's still cut short.
-->The night she’d cut all her waist-length hair, which Aral had always loved, nearly to the roots to lay in the burning brazier. Because the usual sacrificial lock had seemed absurdly inadequate. Not one of her fellow mourners had said a word in protest, nor asked one in question. She’d never worn it longer than its current finger-length, thereafter.
* VerbalTic: For a while in ''Shards of Honor'', her own allies' determined efforts to undo what they assume must be brainwashing and psychological trauma inflicted on her by the Barrayarans, compounded by the sensitive political secrets she has to keep regarding what really happened, puts Cordelia under so much stress that she develops a stutter. It disappears entirely when she resolves to escape.
* WarriorTherapist: 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. And she taught it to her son.
* WomanScorned: Barrayar drove her half-crazy and teratogenically damaged her only son during Vordarian's coup attempt. According to her in ''Mirror Dance'', her revenge is nothing less than ''changing the fundamental basis of Barrayaran society'' (using the uterine replicator tech). Anything worth doing...
* YourApprovalFillsMeWithShame: A non-dichotomous example: after Cordelia takes out Vidal Vordarian, she earns the respect of the High Vor, but it enrages her for a time that Princess Kareen (Gregor's mother, who died defying Vordarian in the end after a powerless life spent trying, as Cordelia puts it, to just survive people like Serg and Ezar and Vordarian himself while protecting her son) is ignored and overlooked for her quiet courage while Cordelia's messy beheading is lauded.

'''Admiral Count Aral Vorkosigan'''

->"A weapon is a device for making your enemy change his mind."

Miles' father. A brilliant man of subtle contradictions, Count Aral is the lion of modern Barrayaran history. Engineer of the brilliant conquest of Komarr, Hero of the heroic retreat from Escobar, victor in the war of Vordarian's pretendership, regent through Gregor's minority and prime minister afterwards, Aral is possibly more influential on Barrayar than even Emperor Ezar. In short, a hard act to follow.

* AintTooProudToBeg: When Vorhalas is threatening to have Miles executed, he says he wants to see Aral beg for Miles' life. He does so in a nanosecond, causing Vorhalas to tell him to cut it out.
%%* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking
* BewareTheNiceOnes: Aral is reasonable, kind, intelligent, level-headed, and a good father and husband. He also strangled a subordinate to death with his bare hands for murdering civilians and slaughtered two people in duels. [[spoiler: When your son's assassin-clone's SuperpoweredEvilSide remarks on feeling a certain kinship with you...]]
* BiTheWay: Aral has had at least one male lover in the past. To the confusion of the Barrayarans, Cordelia really doesn't mind. She even openly muses at one point that Aral tends to lean more towards men than women, then clarifies that Aral mostly loves soldiers, so finding a tomboyish woman in uniform must have fulfilled all of his fantasies.
-->'''Vordarian:''' He's bisexual, you know.
-->'''Cordelia:''' ''(almost absent-minded)'' ''Was'' bisexual. Now he's monogamous.[[note]]That changes, though at Cordelia's encouragement.[[/note]]
* BlueBlood: The bluest, as he's arguably first in line for the throne.
* [[TheButcher 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.
** KilledToUpholdTheMasquerade: Komarrans assumed Aral killed the political officer to cover up the fact Aral gave the order.
* BrokenAce: After both Komarr and Escobar. A new job from Emperor Ezar fixes him both times, though Ezar leaves all of the real heavy lifting to Cordelia the second time around.
* ChildSoldier: His military career began at eleven when Mad Emperor Yuri's death squad killed the rest of his family.
* {{Cincinnatus}}: Despite his wife's efforts, Barrayar and the High Vor just won't let him have a peaceful retirement. He seals the comparison by relinquishing the regency at Gregor's majority, just as he said he would.
* {{Cuckold}}: With his first wife. Oddly enough, he regarded one of his rivals as a WorthyOpponent. That did not stop him from reacting in [[DuelToTheDeath proper vorish fashion.]]
* DepravedBisexual: 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. (Aral ''is'' bisexual, just not depraved. He'd never cheat on Cordelia, though if he admitted that he was attracted to another man, knowing how Betan Cordelia is, she'd probably try and get them together). [[spoiler: She did.]]
* {{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 [=POW=]s, one of whom was the victim of a nerve disruptor attack to the head and is thus a drooling vegetable.
--> '''Aral''': One step at a time I can walk around the world. Watch me.
* FeudalOverlord: Of the Dendarii mountains.
* TheGoodChancellor: After he surrenders the regency he gets the prime ministership as a consolation prize.
* GoodParents: With Cordelia
* HappilyMarried: To Cordelia
* [[RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething High Vor Who Actually Do Something]]
* HeroWithBadPublicity: Though it's largely his own fault, due to his tumultuous youth. When Cordelia's mother calls him a killer, her only defense is to point out that he'd only ''murdered'' three of them, the rest were all legitimate military casualties. Ironically, the actual incident that earned him his bad reputation off-planet was ''not'' his fault, but he already had such a scandalous reputation on Barrayar he must have looked ideal for the frame.
* MedalOfDishonor: Aral secretly considers his reputation as the "Hero of Escobar" even more disgraceful than the "Butcher of Komarr" considering what he had to do to achieve it; on a wider level he appears to see all decorations unpleasant reminders of horrible things, because you hardly ever get an opportunity to even be brave unless things have gone to hell around you.
* MurderTheHypotenuse: The fate of two of his first wife's lovers, after Aral challenged them to duels. The first fought bravely. The second was so pathetic Aral considers it murder.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: After Ezar's plot.
%%* OfficerAndAGentleman
* OldSoldier: He's older by Barrayaran standards when he marries for the second time, and thirty years later is still serving Barrayar.
* PapaWolf: Not as obvious as [[MamaBear Cordelia]] but it's there.
** He is also something of a [[AFatherToHisMen Papa Wolf To His Men]]. Of all the things that angered him at General Metzov -- including bullying Miles -- what angered him most was Metzov's attempt to use trainees as a death squad.
%%* ThePatriarch
* {{Polyamory}}: [[spoiler: It turns out that Aral had a roughly two decade relationship with his aide Oliver Jole. Not only was this not a secret from Cordelia, but in fact she encouraged it and they had threesomes often enough that Jole was sexually comfortable with Cordelia even after Aral was dead]].
* [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Proud]] [[IncrediblyLamePun Vorrior Guy]]
* ReluctantRuler: Invoked by Emperor Ezar when selected to become Regent for Gregor and hold absolute power in the boy's name until adulthood. Not only does Aral take his word of honor very seriously, but he is the one man Ezar is absolutely certain ''does not '''want''''' the Imperium.
* ShroudedInMyth even during his lifetime, When asked "what's he like?" Miles is forced to admit that his father is beyond comparison [[spoiler: and the emperor himself insisted in serving as a pallbearer at his funeral.]]
* SoProudOfYou: Unlike his own father, doesn't withhold or hide his love from his son.
* TeamDad: To the whole of Barrayar.
* TranquilFury:
** 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.
** Both Miles and Ivan acknowledge this. In ''Cetaganda'', when Vorreedi lets his volume drop, asking Miles if he thinks of himself as a genius, Miles gets chilled because it reminded him of his father about to spring a verbal trap. When Admiral Desplains calls Ivan "Captain" while letting his voice go dead level in ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance'', it reminds ''him'' of Aral in a mood.
* [[WhenSheSmiles 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.

'''General Count Piotr Vorkosigan'''

Aral's father, the previous Count Vorkosigan, a hard man and a veteran of the Cetagandan occupation of Barrayar.

* CavalryOfficer: However, he was canny enough to know the limitations in a hi-tech world. He still absolutely ''loves'' horses. In fact, he first starts to defrost when little Miles met his horses and immediately adored them.
* CombatPragmatist: Even during a heated argument with Aral, when Vordarian begins his coup, he and Aral become frighteningly efficient. "No wasted words," thinks Cordelia.
* [[DefrostingIceQueen Defrosting Ice Count]]: He mellows out to his grandson eventually, mostly due to a truckload of effort on Miles' part.
* FairForItsDay : Most of the {{jerkass}} aspects of his personality are due to the ValuesDissonance between him and the "new generation", but Miles himself argues in-universe that considering his background, he's pretty progressive and make a lecture about how he 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 Barrayaran 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.
* LaResistance: He was once a great commander of this.
* OverrankedSoldier: Made full General in his early twenties. It was during the Cetagandan Occupation, and the Emperor wasn't able to provide him with more substantial rewards for his services like supplies or reinforcements. He proved to be a FourStarBadass anyway.
%%* ThePatriarch
%%* RetiredBadass
* [[ThatThingIsNotMyChild That Thing Is Not My Grandchild]]: At first. He gets all the way over it. Miles remembers his grandfather 'standing behind him' in countless stressful social situations, pushing rather than protecting, and he deeply appreciates it. Often Miles' mediating internal monologue sounds as though it might have Piotr's voice (though this is never stated). Interestingly, it's 'Granda' he remembers (though only in pieces) in his cryo-amnesia. It probably helps Piotr realizes Miles' deficiences are ''not'' genetic, and his offspring will be normal.
* IWantGrandkids: When Cordelia is pregnant, it elevates her to near-deity status in Piotr's eyes.
* YouShouldHaveDiedInstead: He ''almost'' says this to Aral in a moment of anger, but even the beginning of the sentiment ("If your brother had lived...") is enough to freeze his relations with his only living son solid then and there.

'''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. [[spoiler: 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.

* AbusiveParents: ''Ser Galen.''
* [[AnnoyingYoungerSibling Annoying Adopted Sibling]]
* BerserkButton: The Jacksonian clone-body industry. [[ItsPersonal It's Extremely Personal]] for Mark.
* BigEater: Thanks to modern medical technology, comfort-eating is one of the less harmful ways for him to cope with his extensive psychological issues. That, and the massive weight gain also helps him look less like his brother.
* CloningBlues: And how. Much of his development in later books is finding non-self-destructive ways to assert his non-Milesness.
* ColdBloodedTorture: What Ser Galen [[spoiler: and later Baron Ryoval]] put him through. [[spoiler: 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 [[SuperpoweredEvilSide Killer]], which proved to be his undoing.]]
* DeadpanSnarker: By ''A Civil Campaign'', he's almost as acerbic as his clone-brother (and new favourite target).
* {{Determinator}}: Despite ''days'' of torture, he manages to turn the tables and kill [[spoiler: Baron Ryoval]] -- despite being naked and handcuffed at the time.
* DefusingTheTykeBomb: Miles starts it in ''Brothers In Arms'' not long after discovering Mark's existence, then the whole Vorkosigan family gets in on the act. [[spoiler: 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.]]
* TheHedonist: One of the legacies of his... unique history. The reasons are ''extremely'' complicated.
* NonIdleRich: What he winds up doing later, [[spoiler: with an eye to using his spoils to outmaneuver the Jacksonian clone-body industry and render it obsolete.]]
* PowerOfTrust: ''Mirror Dance''. When asking each other what the most important trait of the opposite gender are, Kareen says, "Wit". Mark says "Trust", without thinking.
* RapeAsBackstory: Mark's early life was truly appalling. [[spoiler: And then Ryoval gets his hands on him.]]
* SelfMadeMan: Mark takes the same approach to earning money that Miles does to advancing Barrayaran security.
* SiblingRivalry: Big time, due to his very odd upbringing. He gets better later, but teasing Miles remains one of his favorite pastimes,
* SplitPersonality: [[spoiler: Developed not one but four to deal with Ryoval's torture: Grunt represents Mark's sexuality, Gorge his appetite, Howl his masochism, and Killer, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin 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 ''A Civil Campaign'' has them (mostly) under control.]]
** SplitPersonalityTeam: [[spoiler: The Black Gang.]]
* ThatThingIsNotMyChild: Averted 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 [[InsistentTerminology refers to him as such]], and by Aral.
* UglyGuyHotWife: 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 [[spoiler:when he's not having a seizure.]]
* UnderestimatingBadassery: Invoked.
-->'''Mark:''' [[BadassBoast I am too a Vorkosigan. The one who was trained as a deep-penetration mole and assassin.]] [[PreMortemOneLiner It really pisses me off when people underestimate me, y’know?]]
* WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds: Drifts into this territory several times.

!!Servants & Retainers

'''Konstantin Bothari'''

->"He becomes whatever is required of him. Not a conscious process, I don't think. Piotr expects a loyal retainer, and Bothari plays the part, deadpan as you please. Vorrutyer wanted a monster, and Bothari became his torturer. And victim. I demanded a good soldier, and he became one for me. You..." his voice softened, "you are the only person I know who looks at Bothari and sees a hero. So he becomes one for you. He clings to you because you create him a greater man than he ever dreamed of being."
--> -- '''Aral Vorkosigan''' to Cordelia about Bothari, ''Barrayar''

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.

* TheAtoner: His last words [[spoiler:, after being shot by one of his victims,]] are "Rest now..."
* AxCrazy: ''Barrayarans'' consider him AxCrazy.
* BattleButler: To the Vorkosigans, and particularly the young Miles, [[spoiler: right up until his death.]]
* BerserkButton: Call him anything you like, just don't call him a bastard.
* ColdBloodedTorture: He's an expert. Just ask a certain jump pilot.
* DarkAndTroubledPast: [[spoiler: His mother was a Barrayaran prostitute who used to sell him to her customers.]] And that was before Ges Vorrutyer got his hands on him.
* JustFollowingOrders: Played with. He is so messed up that actually refusing to rape Cordelia is the bravest thing he ever does. Usually he becomes whatever his boss wants him to be; Vorrutyer wanted him to be a monster, Aral a good soldier, and Cordelia wanted him as TheChampion. Later Cordelia muses that the reason he clings to the Vorkosigans is that he knows he can't trust himself, and so he follows the orders of someone he believes he ''can'' trust.
* RapeByProxy: [[spoiler: He served as the proxy.]]
* SociopathicHero: 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 [[spoiler: by the female prisoner of war he raped while in a drug-and-Ges-induced fugue during the Escobar War]], Elena.
* KilledOffForReal: [[spoiler: By his daughter Elena's biological mother.]]
* OverprotectiveDad: And when his daughter finds out his past behavior, she's totally disgusted with him.
* RulesLawyer: 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.
* ShootTheDog: 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 [[spoiler:making his death a bizarre turnabout.]]
* SonOfAWhore: And it screwed him up ''hugely''.

'''Armsman Pym'''

Imagine Jeeves as a former SAS commando. Notable for his ability to keep a straight face in the midst of of Miles' antics and for his hilariously dry and deadpan recountings of them afterwards. Pym's utility, competence, and discretion are legendary among those smart enough to pay attention to such things.

* BeleagueredAssistant: At first; later he offloads the job onto Roic.
* DeadpanSnarker: Though Pym is rarely snarky as such, his deadpan exterior hides an acute eye for detail and a very droll sense of humor, making him a master of the hilarious understatement.
* OldRetainer: By the time of ''A Civil Campaign'', but he starts out as TheNewGuy in "The Mountains Of Mourning".

'''Armsman Jankowski'''

Quiet, good with horses.

* FlatCharacter: That's his entire characterization, though his children are mentioned as extras in later books.

'''Armsman Roic'''

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. [[spoiler: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.]]

* BeleagueredAssistant: He is generally the armsman of choice to accompany the little git... er... Lord Vorkosigan on his off planet missions.
* TheBigGuy: Steps up to the plate as this in the later novels.
* MrFanservice: 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 and Kareen Koudelka are both briefly DistractedByTheSexy.
* TinyGuyHugeGirl: His brief romance with Taura, one of the few people in the universe who could render him the 'tiny guy'.
** Which leads to an epiphany: "This must be what women looked like to [Miles] ''all the time''."

'''Ma Kosti'''

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.

* SupremeChef: 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. Cordelia contemplates getting her son transferred to Sergyar so ''she'' could steal that culinary mastery for herself. And in ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance'', even ''Emperor Gregor'' hints that he might draft her services, though in Cordelia and Gregor's case it's implied they're teasing.
** Later on in ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance'' Ivan discovers that Lady Alys actually does avail herself of Ma Kosti's services for sufficiently important dinner parties, probably through the devious expedient of ''asking nicely''. She also won't pass up a chance to cook for Gregor, and other characters note she's inspired by him.

'''Zap The Cat'''

A cat that was adopted by the [=ImpSec=] security detail around Vorkosigan House. She has been a fixture at Vorkosigan House ever since.

* CatsAreMean: And bipolar and possibly insane.
* [[BabiesEverAfter Kittens Ever After:]] She has several litters as the books go on. Miles offering people kittens becomes one of his standard icebreakers later on.


[[folder: Other Barrayarans]]

'''Ivan Xav Vorpatril'''

-> '''Ivan:''' You're acting just like you do when you play Admiral Naismith, except without the Betan accent. Full tilt forward, no inhibitions, innocent bystanders scramble for their lives. I suppose you'll say terror is good for me, clears the arteries or something.
-> '''Miles:''' Do you consider yourself an innocent bystander?
-> '''Ivan:''' God knows I try to be.
--> -- ''Memory''

Miles' second cousin and agemate, a handsome and clever but rather lazy young officer who is exceptionally popular with the ladies. Often answers to [[StealthPun "Ivan, you idiot!"]], and is forever getting dragged into Miles' wild schemes, or so he claims.

* BadassBureaucrat: One of the best human paper shredders in the Emperor's Service.
* BirthdayHater: Not surprising, given how it was usually celebrated. Since he was born an hour or so after his father died, his mother made the central event of his birthday celebration be a memorial service to the father he never knew. This was done every year that Ivan was in Vorbarr Sultana during his birthday until he was ''thirty five''.
* BrilliantButLazy: Actually described as having a "sharp but lazy intellect" in ''Brothers in Arms.'' It's implied he deliberately downplays it; being pretty high up in line for the throne, it saves him from being targeted. By both Imp Sec ''and'' enemies.
* ButtMonkey: Is often called an idiot by his friends and relatives and tends to be the victim of humorously embarrassing circumstances.
* CatchPhrase: "It's not my fault."
* CharacterizationMarchesOn / EarlyInstallmentWeirdness : In Ivan's first appearance, he comes across as much more of a genuine idiot and a jerk (especially his behavior towards Elena) than his eventual personality.
* ChivalrousPervert: As Miles once mused, when Ivan says charming things to a lady, he's absolutely sincere. Just like he will be with the next lady, and the one after her, and the one after her...
%%* TheGoodCaptain
* TheCharmer: Has shades of this.
* ADayInTheLimelight: ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance''. Miles only appears in two scenes: first to inform Ivan that Gregor wants to meet Tej and Rish, and second to be present at that meeting. He miraculously plays no part in the story's resolution.
* DeadpanSnarker: But of course.
* DrivesLikeCrazy
-->'''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).
%%* HandsomeLech
* HeroOfAnotherStory: While not involved in Miles' exploits Ivan has had a fairly successful military career, usually getting promotions ahead of Miles (whose achievements are all highly classified and can't be publicly acknowledged without blowing his cover; he's also lost years of seniority in active service due to infirmary/hospital time, wounded [[spoiler:(and occasionally killed)]] in the line of duty). (In addition, Ivan reminds Miles that Ivan tends to ''follow orders''.) In ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance'' we find out that Ivan is in fact a brilliant staff officer, largely because he insists on organizing everything to the point where it maximizes his comfort and minimize his effort.
* HyperCompetentSidekick: The brief glimpses the reader sees of Ivan as an aide-de-camp to Galeni and Admiral Desplains show him as this. However, this is in part to his bring BrilliantButLazy; he does all of his tasks quickly and efficiently, giving himself more free time (see Reassigned To Riviera below.) Naturally, Miles sees this in him, as does Aunt Alys, much to his annoyance, since they constantly recruit him against his will.
* IdleRich: Subversion. But goodness knows he wants few things more than to be idle.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: 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. [[spoiler:When Miles is missing, presumed dead, Ivan gets so totally wrecked Lord Mark has to carry him home.]]
-->'''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?
* LaboriousLaziness: {{Inverted}}: He does his work ''extremely'' well...because he worked out a long time ago that doing his work efficiently was less work in the long run.
* LadykillerInLove: In ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance''.
* LikesOlderWomen: Ivan has a preference for older women, such as 40-something Lady Donna. He says with body mods, Tej could be anywhere between 10 and 60 -- and Ivan states he wouldn't mind being with a 60 year old woman ''at all''.
* TheLoinsSleepTonight: Happens to him, to his abject horror, 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 Barrayaran 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 -- both his original partners and their friends... Let's just say Ivan is apparently a [[CountryMatters cunning linguist.]]
* ManlyTears: Ivan is sobbing in a gazebo when he thinks Miles is dead for good.
* MaternityCrisis: He was born in the poorest and dingiest part of a besieged city, tended by a half-sane (at best) soldier instead of a doctor, and with a rebel Vor desperately looking for him and his mother to take them as hostages. One might say it was somewhat difficult circumstances.
%%* MommasBoy
* NiceGuy: And Miles takes advantage of this more then a bit.
** On one occasion, he tells Miles that he won't be involved in whatever scheme he's cooking up. Miles, who has nothing on his plate, tells him that's okay. Ivan promptly gets offended at the idea that Miles ''doesn't'' need him.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: That time on Cetaganda when he thought he was freeing a kitten from a carnivorous plant, not realizing it was part of the plant.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Although Obfuscating Normality is probably more accurate. He's no less intelligent than any of his relatives, but he consciously chooses to appear less exceptional than they (not that this is terribly hard, considering who his closest relatives are). It's a matter of self-preservation, when you're third in line for the Imperium and really don't want the job.
%%* OnlyChildSyndrome
* PhraseCatcher: "Ivan, you idiot!" One time, ''Miles'' is about to say it, but Ivan cuts him off, savoring having information Miles doesn't have, an ''extremely'' rare pleasure for him. Tej calls him an idiot when he's bound to a chair in ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance'' and is confused as to why that makes him smile wider.
* [[ReassignedToAntarctica Reassigned to Riviera]]: At the end of ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance'' TheEmperor (who wasn't really mad at him but wanted him off-world until the Arquas' doings were forgotten) assigned him to a consulate on an obscure planet. Since the work only takes him three mornings a week and can be done over the comconsole (computer/phone hybrid), Ivan moves the consulate from the rainy capitol to a tropical island and converts his posting into an extended working vacation.
* RichIdiotWithNoDayJob: Subverted. He actually does have a [[BadassBureaucrat day job]]. He just acts like this to avoid getting caught up in intrigue, and likes court life as a recreation.
* SarcasticDevotee: To Miles. This led to an amusing scene in ''Memory'', when [[spoiler:he says he'll not be roped into whatever Miles is up to. Miles (who isn't actually up to anything) says that's okay. Ivan assumes he's being given the brush-off and leaves, mildly offended.]]
* SpareToTheThrone: Ivan was this before Gregor had heirs, as the Vorkosigan clan would have backed him if anything happened to Gregor. He really, ''really'' doesn't want the job.
** [[spoiler: He is ''thrilled'' when it's pointed out to him that having 1/4 Cetagandan children with Tej will permanently remove him and his family as serious contenders for the imperial camp stool in the event of a SuccessionCrisis.]]
%%* TallDarkAndHandsome

'''Lady Alys Vorpatril'''

Imperial Social Secretary, 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 plans, if they dare.)

* AmazinglyEmbarrassingParents: [[spoiler: Once she hooks up with Illyan, Ivan certainly feels this way.]]
* TheCaretaker: To Simon in ''Memory''.
* TheConsigliere: Even officially she is the Emperor's most trusted organizer of ceremonies and his Baba ([[PerfectlyArrangedMarriage that is, matchmaker)]]. Taking her unofficial powers into account (After spending thirty years as Gregor's social secretary, she knows '''everybody''' in the government and has a way to directly or indirectly influence most of them), she is probably almost equivalent to a cabinet member or higher.
** On at least two occasions (in ''Memory'' and in ''A Civil Campaign'') an intriguer underestimates her by taking into account only her official powers. It does not end well for either of them.
--->'''Miles:''' Richars Vorrutyer sat right there and informed me that Lady Alys held no vote in Council. The fact that she has spent more years in the Vorbarr Sultana political scene than all of us here put together seemed to escape him.
* CoolOldLady: In ''A Civil Campaign'', it's hinted that [[spoiler: she's working with ''[=ImpSec=]'' as By's handler.]] She's also implied to be the ringleader of all of the Cool Old Ladies among the high Vor.
* CostumePorn: She once told Sgt. Taura that "Dresses are weapons." And by the time she's done, Taura believes it.
* DancesAndBalls[=/=]FancyDinner: She's the one who runs all of Gregor's parties. As this is both his public relations and his way of networking with movers and shakers, it's a far more important job than it sounds. Whenever something important is happening, she is in on it.
** In ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance'', she establishes herself as badass by stating that not even master manipulator Miles dare crash one of ''her'' parties uninvited.
* GrandDame: Eventually becomes ''the'' Grand Dame of Barrayar.
* IWantGrandKids: Regarding My Beloved Smother below, Cordelia notes that if Ivan ''really'' wanted Alys off his back, he should just have a grandkid or two and that would ''permanently'' distract Alys from him.
-->'''Ivan:''' I shouldn’t think you would be in such a tearing hurry to become the ''Dowager'' Lady Vorpatril.\\
'''Alys:''' My dear and only child, how did you come by that misapprehension?
* MoreThanMeetsTheEye: Surprisingly for such a patriarchal culture, she is one of the most politically powerful people on Barrayar.
* MyBelovedSmother: Ivan thinks so, but [[IWantGrandkids she just wants grandkids,]] and backs off once [[spoiler: Simon Illyan is in the picture and she no longer feels compelled to live through Ivan.]] The [[TearJerker tearjerking]] reason she's protective is that he's an only child -- and her husband died a nasty death during his birth.
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: When Illyan is injured in ''Memory'', it's a mark of her irritation at not being told about it that she complains that none of "you three louts" saw fit to keep her in the loop. A bemused Miles is shocked when he realizes that the three louts are himself, Ivan and... [[spoiler: Emperor Gregor]].
* [[PoliticallyActivePrincess Politically Active Vor Lady:]] Especially in ''A Civil Campaign''.
* SeriousBusiness: Do ''not'' fuck up one of her parties. She treats them even more seriously than clothes.
%%* SilkHidingSteel
%%* TheSocialExpert
* [[TechnicianVersusPerformer Technician and Performer]]: She and Simon have a symbiosis at court events, with her being the performer providing the splendor, and Simon as the technician providing the security.

'''Count Falco Vorpatril'''

Kinsman and Liege of Ivan who in a CrowningMomentOfFunny judges and refuses Ivan's petition to be released from a CitizenshipMarriage after having established that the ceremony was proper -- if hurried -- and that neither party is guilty of concealed mutation, adultery, neglect, physical abuse, denial of contact with kinfolk, denial of children, and certainly not [[UnusualEuphemism denial of marital rights]].

* BadassBeard: A big white one. Ivan even compares Falco to "[[SantaClaus Father Frost]]".
* CoolOldGuy: Comes off as one during Ivan and Tej's divorce suit.
* GoodOldWays: Most definitely. And to him they are the [[HonorBeforeReason good]] old ways. In a succession suit he changed his vote in favor of a would-be count who had had a sex change to make him a viable candidate -- simply because his opponent had used dishonorable means in his campaign.
%%* TheJudge
* {{Nepotism}}: Averted. Possibly even inverted. It is speculated that Ivan might have gotten a more sympathetic hearing from someone unfamiliar with his [[ChivalrousPervert weaknesses]].
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Galactics might not think so, but he judges Barrayaran law fairly from the local point of view and has no favoritism for kinfolk. He's described as a "progressive Conservative or conservative Progressive" in ''A Civil Campaign''.
* [[RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething Vor Who Actually Do Something]]: Judging local disputes.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Gives an epic one to Richars Vorrutyer.
-->'''Falco:''' There is an unwritten rule among us, Richars; if you attempt any ploy on the far side of ethical, you'd damned well better be good enough at your game not to get caught. [[EpicFail You're not good enough.]]
* [[IGaveMyWord You Gave Your Word]]: Well, he's a Barrayaran.

'''Simon Illyan'''

-> "[Illyan] [[DeadpanSnarker does acerb]] better than almost anyone I know."
--> -- '''Miles Vorkosigan''' on his [[TheSpymaster boss]], ''Mirror Dance''

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''.

* AFatherToHisMen: In a rather grim fashion, but yeah. He does know how to take care of his agents.
* BerserkButton: Don't you ''dare'' falsify reports to cover your own wrongdoing!
* BroughtDownToNormal: Even Jacksonians heard of "the Barrayaran with the cyborg brain". Haroche's sabotage of the eidetic chip removed Illyan's instant recall -- but not his cunning.
* BullyingTheDragon: It's Illyan's job to take on powerful Vor and military bigwigs. When an [=ImpSec=] agent tangles with Admiral Desplains -- Chief of Ops for the entirety of Barrayar's military -- Simon approves, stating it was nice to see a Galactic Affairs agent take on someone so high ranking without fearing reprisal.
%%* ConsummateProfessional
* CrazyPrepared: In ''Memory'', Miles castigates himself knowing that Illyan ''would'' have an agent in the Dendarii Mercenaries he ''didn't'' know of, which is how Simon discovered Miles falsified his report.
* TheDreaded: Aside from leading what was originally the SecretPolice, the eidetic chip made him ''very'' intimidating. Miles insists that it wasn't just the chip that made Simon unnerving, however.
* {{Expy}}: WordOfGod states that Illyan's name, appearance and profession are somewhat inspired by Illya Kuryakin of ''Series/TheManFromUncle''.
* HonoraryUncle: Before joining [=ImpSec=], Miles called him "Uncle Simon".
* LoveRedeems: [[spoiler:Or at least, it helps you live a normal life after decades of being a kind of living computer.]]
* ManipulativeBastard: Although he seems quiet and respectable, various characters have noted that to be in charge of "weasels" like Miles he'd have to be a bit sneaky himself. [[spoiler: And so it proves in ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance'', where his boredom with his retirement leads him to arrange a scam of a bet with Ivan's new in-laws.]]
* NeuralImplanting: [[spoiler: At least until the chip is sabotaged.]]
** This adds to [[TheDreaded his]] [[ShroudedInMyth image]]. On Jackson's Whole, one of the scary stories told about him claims he's actually a {{Cyborg}}.
* TheNondescript: A useful thing for a junior [=ImpSec=] officer, which is how he began his career.
* NoteToSelf: With his eidetic chip, Simon could repeat anything anyone said ''to the letter'' decades ago.
* PapaWolf: ''Do not'' hurt an [=ImpSec=] agent. Don't even do so by accident. ''Especially'' if you then try to lie about it. He will hunt you to the end of the galaxy.
* PhotographicMemory: Again, thanks to a recording chip that made nine of 10 implantees go into schizophrenic madness, since basically it gave the user two sets of realities to deal with.
* TheSpymaster: A given, as chief of [=ImpSec=].
* TheStoic: See The Nondescript. Except...
** OOCIsSeriousBusiness: Simon actually breaks down and shows some real emotion when he has to boot Miles from [=ImpSec=]. Aside from being the son of one of his closest friends, he was fast-tracking Miles to be head of Imperial Security. Disappointment is far too mild a word for Simon's venting.

'''Emperor Gregor Vorbarra'''

-> "Gregor, I'm sorry, but I just don't think Mad Emperor Gregor is in the cards. It's your ''advisors'' who are going to go crazy."
--> -- '''Miles''' reassuring his cousin on his mental health. ''The Vor Game''

Emperor of Barrayar, Komarr, and Sergyar, a soft-spoken, highly intelligent man and just the sort of person you'd want running your militarized feudal space empire.

* AwesomenessByAnalysis: Gregor does his homework. God help you if you don't.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: "Both of my parents died in political intrigue before I was six years old, a fact you might have researched. Did you think you were dealing with an ''amateur''?"
* CatchPhrase: "Let's see what happens."
* CharacterDevelopment: Over the course of the series, goes from being used by various Barrayaran counts and politicians to out-playing them all and securing his own happiness, without losing his essential humanity or compromising his honour.
* TheChessmaster: Eventually becomes this.
* ChildByRape: Almost certainly, considering who his father was.
* TheEmperor: Is the absolute monarch of three planets (one of which he is also the legal owner of).
* TheGoodKing: Exemplifies this trope. Gregor is rigidly self-controlled, conscientious, favors quiet dignity over grandeur and sees his position as a duty to be performed to meet the incredibly high standards he sets for himself. Most people respect him because even though he expects a great deal from others, it is only because he expects even more from himself.
* GuileHero: Particularly in ''The Vor Game.''
* HappilyAdopted: By the Vorkosigans, after being orphaned during Vordarian's Pretendership.
* HappilyMarried: [[spoiler: To a nice, smart, wealthy, sane Komarran BBW. By the latest book, they've sprogged a brood of brainy kids.]]
* HeroicBSOD: During the events of ''The Vor Game'', [[spoiler: 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 Barrayaran Empire in a long time. Gregor becomes temporarily suicidal, then goes AWOL as a KingIncognito, 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.]]
* InTheBlood: 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."
-->'''Miles''': I probably carry almost as many of Mad Yuri's genes as you do, through one line of descent or another.
--> '''Gregor''': Is that supposed to be reassuring?
* TheJudge: One of his main jobs is presiding over high profile cases.
* LaserGuidedKarma: Gregor just loves dispensing this. He even hired Miles to focus the beam.
* PenPushingPresident: Or Emperor. As Ivan notes, many have coveted the emperor's throne, but none have coveted his ''desk''.
* TheQuietOne: According to Miles, "He'd be shy if he could, but he's not allowed."
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Wants results that provide the greatest benefit to his people, and is willing to help make sure that he gets them.
* RoyalWe: Or, rather, Imperial. Gregor uses it very, very rarely, when he wants it extremely clear that he's speaking officially. He does say "Our" on occasion, and the "O" is capitalized.
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething: Has very little free time, since he actually ''runs'' his empire and makes a point to keep abreast of everything that is going on. The Imperial Auditors exist mostly to address the fact that he cannot be everywhere at once and needs proxies who are directly accountable to him making sure that his authority is applied when and where it is needed. Early in his career, he ''insisted'' he lead the Barrayaran force dispatched to prevent a Cetagandan invasion of the Hegen Hub. Aral was both horrified and proud of Gregor's initiative.
* SarcasmMode: Rarely gets to be a DeadpanSnarker, but Illyan gets exposed to it in a big way at the end of ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance''. He surmises Gregor was enjoying finally being able to unleash some snark, especially considering who he was snarking ''at''.
* ShelteredAristocrat: Appears as this toward the beginning of ''The Vor Game''. Turns out to be smarter than he appears though.
* TranquilFury: The quieter he gets, the angrier he generally is. Miles notes that Gregor goes grey, rather than red, when furious.
* WarriorPrince: He graduated from the Imperial Service Academy and ordered himself aboard Aral's flagship for the battle of Hegen's Hub using the argument that a reputation for leading from the front would reap both military and diplomatic benefits for Barrayar.
* WarriorTherapist: Learned it at Cordelia's knee. He's even better at it than Miles, eventually a match for Cordelia herself.
* [[WhenSheSmiles When He Smiles]]: Tej notes that he has one of those "face-transforming smiles" in ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance.''
* TheWisePrince: In private life, Gregor is a kind, complex man, but his public persona makes him come across as TheStoic.

'''Emperor Ezar Vorbarra'''

Gregor's grandfather, Serg's father, a highly subtle and dangerous old bastard.

* TheChessmaster: the one man Aral acknowleges as his master in politics and war, which on Barrayar are often the same thing.
* TheExtremistWasRight: Or else he was really lucky. In any case, his plan ''did'' work as he wanted it to.
* FourStarBadass: Before becoming emperor.
* KarmaHoudini: But only to outside observers. "The emperor spares himself nothing."
* LesserOfTwoEvils: See below. In this case even the "lesser" was pretty extravagantly evil.
* [[NeedleInAStackOfNeedles Murder In A Stack Of Deaths]]: See below.
* OffingTheOffspring: [[spoiler: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 Barrayarans killed to cover the act. He was convinced it wasn't enough to kill Serg, he had to eliminate his entire political party.]]
* [[PapaWolf Papa Wolf In-Law]]: When Prince Serg was becoming dangerous he [[PetTheDog protected Serg's wife from him]].
* PragmaticVillainy: Ezar will do anything as long as it is expedient, but ''only'' as long as it is expedient.
* ShootTheDog: This and a KickTheDog, all rolled up in one: see above.
* ThanatosGambit: Sets Aral up for the Regency of Barrayar with one of these. Aral gripes that Ezar will somehow continue to rule even after his death. Ezar promises to haunt him for the entirety of his Regency.
* TheWrongfulHeirToTheThrone: He was a general from a cadet branch of the imperial family who removed Yuri when he became more than even Barrayar could tolerate. It's implied that as a direct great-grandson of Dorca (if through a female line), Aral technically had a better dynastic claim on a throne than Ezar, though being ''[[ChildSoldier eleven]]'' at the time he wasn't considered the most fittting.

'''Princess Kareen Vorbarra'''

Mother of Gregor and wife of Serg. [[spoiler: Is killed during the War of Vordarian's Pretendership when Gregor is only five years old.]]

* BewareTheQuietOnes: Known for being very reserved, even in stressful situations. She reaches her breaking point when [[spoiler: she learns what really happened to her son, and tries to kill Vordarian with a stolen nerve disruptor.]]
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: Invoked when Cordeli questions her about her relationship with Vordarian, she replies he doesn't abuse his courtesans.
* DomesticAbuse: Her relationship with her husband, at least until Ezar started protecting her from Serg after she became pregnant with Gregor.
%%* MamaBear
* QuestionableConsent: Vidal Vordarian stages a coup against Kareen's young son, holds her hostage, and tells her that Gregor is dead. She quietly goes along with his plans after that, including his public announcement of their betrothal. Later, when Cordelia, Drou, and Bothari break into the palace and find Kareen and Vordarian asleep in bed together, Drou is horrified and Cordelia reminds her of this trope.
--> '''Cordelia''': If you'll explain to me what power-base you imagine she has to resist the man right now, I'd be interested to hear it.
* SilkHidingSteel: Vordarian thought she was compliant: turns out she was just biding her time.
* WomanScorned: Cordelia states that if necessary, Kareen's revenge will be to outlive everyone and spit on their graves.
* TheWoobie: [[invoked]] Let's see: she's first married to TheCaligula, she thinks her toddler son has been killed in a palace coup, then sleeps with the man who engineered the coup as a part of political pragmatism -- and whose only saving grace to Kareen is that he doesn't torment the women he sleeps with -- and when she finds out her son is alive, she's killed by a neural weapon to the head.

'''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.

* DrivenToSuicide: Cordelia's gift of a SwordCane nearly backfires tragically as Kou contemplates suicide with it. Cordelia's interruption probably saved his life.
* HandicappedBadass though this is downplayed in later volumes, apparently due to improving medical technology.
* OverprotectiveDad: Morphs into one of these when [[spoiler: Kareen and Mark are outed as a couple.]] He gets over it; helps that one of his other daughters [[spoiler: hooks up with Count Dono Vorrutyer, who is {{Transgender}}]] during the same time period.
* SwordCane: 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 [[OffWithHisHead re-purposed]] later.

'''Ludmilla "Drou" Droushnakovi'''

Former bodyguard to Princess Kareen and then-heir to the throne Prince Gregor, Drou accompanied Cordelia on her [[UnusualEuphemism shopping trip]] to the Capital. Now married to Clement Koudelka and the proud mother of four daughters.

* ActionGirl: she was a planetary martial arts champion and Emperor Gregor's childhood bodyguard.
* EmbarrassingFirstName: 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 two years old.
-->'''Drou:''' My brothers used to call me Lud. Rhymes with mud. Also thud, blood, crud, dud, and cud.\\
'''Kou:''' You’ll always be Drou to me.
* HappilyMarried: To Kou, [[spoiler: though that doesn't mean she doesn't want her daughters to have happier, saner courtships than she did.]]
* NinjaMaid: To Princess Kareen. Her public title is "Servant of the Inner Chamber," but she's also on [=ImpSec=]'s payroll, and was hired specifically for her fighting skills because Kareen wanted a female bodyguard.
%%* RetiredBadass

'''The Koudelka Girls''' (AKA "Team Koudelka" AKA "Commodore Koudelka's All-Blonde Commando Team")

Kou and Drou's four daughters, Delia [[spoiler:Galeni]], [[spoiler:Countess]] Olivia [[spoiler:Vorrutyer]], Martya [[spoiler:Borgos]] and Kareen [[spoiler:who becomes Lady Kareen Vorkosigan in all but name]].

* ActionGirl: ''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 Creator/BlakeEdwards 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 [[spoiler: hired by Richars Vorrutyer to reverse his cousin Dono's Betan sex-change surgery with a vibra-knife.]] Barehanded. Dressed in a ''ball gown''.
* AmazonBrigade: 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." Kareen is the shortest of the sisters, and she's still 5'9".
* AmbiguouslyBi: Kareen notes that she could have met a nice ''girl'' in Beta Colony. She'd already had experience with Betan herms, so it's possible she experimented further, though she could just be jerking her parent's chains by reminding them that there are worse romantic options (by Barrayaran standards, anyway) than Lord Mark.
* BewareTheQuietOnes: Proved, to Ivan's horror, when super-quiet Olivia takes down a couple of armed thugs single-handed.
* DeadGuyJunior: Kareen, named after Gregor's mother, the deceased Princess Kareen.
** Olivia is named for Miles' long-deceased grandmother, Princess Olivia Vorbarra-Vorkosigan.
* DeadpanSnarker: Martya.
* FourTemperamentEnsemble: Kareen is sanguine, Martya is choleric, Delia is melancholic, and Olivia is phlegmatic.
* GenderRarityValue: The Koudelkas went for girls after noticing that everyone else was going for boys, making their daughters about the hottest commodities on the Vorbarr Sultana dating scene.
%%* [[LadyofWar Lady of]] [[IncrediblyLamePun Vor]]
* NiceGirl: "Everyone liked Kareen, because Kareen liked everyone."
* SarcasticDevotee: Martya to Enrique. She snarks that he needs a keeper then promptly snares the job (and the good doctor) for herself. Even Kareen admits that level-headed Martya can "make the brains run on time." And he writes poetry!

'''Ekaterin Nile Vorvayne Vorsoisson [[spoiler: Vorkosigan]]'''

--> -- '''Ekaterin Nile Vorvayne Vorsoisson''', ''Komarr'', after more than a decade of being married to Etienne Vorsoisson.

->"Miles, if you die out here, I will not be grieved, I will be pissed!"
--> -- '''Ekaterin''', ''Diplomatic Immunity'', [[spoiler: 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 interstellar consequences.

* BewareTheNiceOnes: This over-socialized stay-at-home mom [[spoiler: used a Komarran super-weapon as an anti-grav basketball while laughing in the face of certain death.]]
** In "Winterfair Gifts", [[spoiler: 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 [=ImpSec=] 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 nutty 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.
* CatchPhrase: "Unpack, Miles," referring to the way Miles' brain runs five steps ahead of his mouth.
* DeadpanSnarker: She has her moments.
* DomesticAbuse: Tien certainly emotionally abused her [[spoiler: 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 claims that she saw it as a romantic adventure; she was twenty, Tien was ''thirty''. Considering the age difference, power imbalance, and Tien's personality overall, the abuse label holds.) At one point, Ekaterin brings up in Tien's [[spoiler: 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 [[spoiler: after his own death]] than "[[DamnedByFaintPraise he never hit me]]".
* HappilyMarried: Eventually. [[EarnYourHappyEnding She has to wade through a lot of shit to get there.]]
* IGaveMyWord: Takes this as seriously as Miles does, which leads to her putting up with mountains of garbage from her husband Tien.
%%* LetsGetDangerous
%%* MamaBear
* ObliviousToLove: 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. [[spoiler:She even writes off Miles' confession at the end of ''Komarr'' as a joke by the next novel.]] Better still, she is determinedly ''ignoring'' the fact that she is falling hard for Miles -- to the point of grinding her teeth in fury at a hypothetical Vor débutante insulting him and feeling like crying at the thought of never again having physical contact with Miles.
* ParentheticalSwearing: Coming from her, a single ''"twit"'' has the force of a ClusterFBomb from less repressed characters.
* ProperLady: Nearly a textbook example. No wonder KnightErrant Miles fell for her almost immediately.
* ShoutOut: Her maiden name is a tribute to Harriet Vane, wife of Literature/LordPeterWimsey.
%%* SilkHidingSteel

'''Lord Auditor Professor Georg Vorthys'''

One of the eight permanent Imperial Auditors and Ekatarin's great uncle by marriage, 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.

%%* CoolOldGuy
%%* TheEngineer
* GeniusSweetTooth: The man loves his cookies.
* GentlemanAndAScholar: Well, as much as an engineer can be, it seems; he tends to prefer having his custom-tailored suits made with "nice big pockets". His wife the Professora is a better example on the Distaff side.
%%* HappilyMarried

'''Professora Helen Vorthys'''

Georg's wife, Ekatarin's great aunt and a professor of History at Vorbarr Sultana University. A highly accomplished academic in her own right, Miles and Gregor alike have been known to employ her and her graduate students to research historical precedents. Implied to be one of Lady Alys' secret coterie of highly influential women.

* CoolOldLady: She's fairly progressive in her views, even moreso than Ekaterin in some ways.
* [[GentlemanAndAScholar Lady and a Scholar]]: Emperor Gregor values her advice on historical precedents.
* HappilyMarried: Ekaterin is wistfully jealous of her aunt and uncle's relationship.

'''Byerly Vorrutyer'''

Town Clown, impoverished, imprudent, and impervious to put-downs, but very witty...if you care for a certain nasty type of humor. [[spoiler: Also an [=ImpSec=] informant, thought by some to be reporting to Lady Alys Vorpatril.]]

* AgentProvocateur: Manipulates his cousin Richers into prematurely sending goons to attack his other cousin Dono so as to sabotage his case against the other.
* AmbiguouslyBi: Actually discussed in ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance.'' The conclusion reached was that Ivan wanted to know as little about By's sex life as possible, no matter who it was with. Rish and Tej, with their advanced sense of smell, notes that By just fooled around with a guy.
* ContinuityNod: 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.
* DeadpanSnarker: even manages to out-snark Miles.
* GuileHero: For a given value of "hero". Guile AntiHero, perhaps?
* HiddenDepths: By's backstory, when it finally comes out in ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance'', makes him a much more sympathetic character.
* IfYoureSoEvilEatThisKitten: By covers an op by [[XanatosGambit hiring a contract kidnapper, and then recruits Ivan to make sure the kidnapper doesn't find his prey.]] [[UpToEleven Without telling Ivan why he was recruited.]]
* ItsPersonal: implied to be the underlying reason why he exceeded his brief in helping Dono against Richars.
* ImpoverishedPatrician
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: A self-admitted weasel who plays for high stakes...but who actually cares, deep down, about protecting the weak and punishing the guilty.
* RichIdiotWithNoDayJob: [[spoiler: While [[strike: partially]] entirely true, it is also his cover.]]

'''Count René Vorbretten'''

Academy classmate of Miles and Ivan, and one of Miles' stoutest allies on the Council of Counts. An upright, forthright, and diligent young aristocrat who was forced to give up a promising military career after his father's untimely death, only to discover that he's one eighth Cetagandan Ghem. On his father's father's side, unfortunately.

* TheAce: He's described as being handsome, a capable administrator, hard-working, artistically talented, and even more charming to the ladies than Ivan.
* CaligulasHorse: Once again, the Lord Midnight precedent. His grandfather's illegitimacy does not automatically disqualify René from succession (namely due to the fact that his father and René both were confirmed as heir/Count, and so legally were the Count).
* [[LesCollaborateurs Les Collaborateurs Descendant]]: It is believed that his Cetagandan ancestry came not from rape but from an affair with a Ghem-soldier, either because of mutual loneliness or because of an exchange of protection for sex or both.
* EmbarrassingNickname: He is sometimes called "Ghembretten".
* FantasticRacism: He finds it quite creepy himself that he is part Cetagandan as he had grown up hating them for killing his father in battle.
** The attitude to his ancestry by others is a subversion. As several vor including TheEmperor are already marrying off-worlders anyway, it may be that the key point was that his ancestor had an affair with an invader, not just an off-worlder, and that it has legal ramifications in a hereditary aristocracy.
* HappilyMarried: to Tatya, a classmate of Olivia Koudelka. Which pulls in the rest of Team Koudelka, and by extension, Miles, though Miles likely would have come to René's aid regardless.
* [[RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething High Vor Who Actually Do Something]]: Though it's always offscreen, no one ever seems to mention René without complimenting his diligence, competence, or decency.
* InstantExpert: has an affinity for music due to his Cetagandan heritage.
* NothingPersonal: Even the distant cousin who's gunning for René's seat doesn't have anything against him personally, but turnover in the Council of Counts is so rare he's forced to challenge him out of party loyalty.
** His cousin Sigur shows far more grace than Richars in defeat, and the first thing he does after the lawsuit is [[WorthyOpponent congratulate René.]]
* SickeninglySweethearts: René and Tatya are exceedingly, abundantly, just plain ''cute'' together.
* TomatoInTheMirror: He's rather hostile towards Cetagandans, only to discover that he has Cetagandans in his ancestry.
* TragicBigot: Olivia notes that René hated the Cetagandans for killing his father, and is thoroughly spooked to learn he's part Cetagandan himself.

'''Lord [[spoiler:later Count]] Dono Vorrutyer'''

Byerly's cousin, and another old friend of Ivan... who was once ''Lady Donna'' Vorutyer, and more than just a friend. But when Donna's older brother dies under suspicious circumstances and she's faced with the prospect of her vile cousin Richars taking his place, she decides that extreme measures are called for. Now the new Lord Dono must engage both Richars and traditional Barrayaran society in a no-holds barred political battle in the Council of Counts, where mutual interests inevitably lead him to ally with Miles and René.

* AintNoRule: That a Count's sister can't get a sex change to contest the succession.
* CaligulasHorse: There's that Lord Midnight precedent again.
* TheCasanova: As Donna or Dono, doesn't matter.
* TheCharmer: several other characters -- and not all of them women -- note how dashing he is.
* GenderBender: Only men can inherit a District Countship, so needs must when the devil drives.
** FirstLawOfGenderBending: Averted. Dono tells Gregor he will remain a man even if he loses his suit for the countship.
** SecondLawOfGenderBending: Also averted, surprisingly enough. Dono isn't interested in embracing masculinity so much as he's exploring the new possibilities it presents.
** ThirdLawOfGenderBending: Enforced. Playing the role is important to the outcome.
* HappilyMarried: [[spoiler: To Olivia Koudelka!]]
* ItsPersonal: Richars tried to rape Donna at age 13, then drowned her puppy after she fought him off.
* LadykillerInLove: After transitioning and while campaigning for the Countship, he befriends, and then quickly falls in love with, [[spoiler: Olivia Koudelka, whom he later marries.]] Perhaps better phrased as Maneater In Love.
* NamesTheSame: In-universe, a prior Lord Dono Vorrutyer was an insane architect during Dorca's time.
* ReallyGetsAround: Before his sex change, that is. Afterwards, in at least one case he privately visits the wife of a former lover, satisfying her that the change is permanent and prompting her to influence her husband in Dono's favour.
%%* [[SheIsTheKing She Is The Count]]
* SuddenlySexuality: Although no evidence is given that Donna was bisexual prior to her sex change, and that she certainly enjoyed the company of men (including Ivan), as Dono he is definitely at least bi, diving right into a relationship with [[spoiler: Olivia Kouldelka]].
* TranquilFury: Ekaterin muses that the sex change was backed by a ''lot'' of rage. Miles supports it, saying, "Lady Donna never suffered fools lightly."

'''Count Vormuir'''

A conservative back-bencher who has hit on his own, wildly progressive scheme to improve his prospects in the never-ending demographic struggle between districts. [[spoiler: He's manufacturing liege-people, using uterine replicators, confiscated eggs, and his own sperm. All girls, to take advantage of GenderRarityValue and Barrayar's antiquated chattel and inheritance laws.]]

* AintNoRule: Half of the basis of his plan.
* BabyFactory: His end goal, though not in any sense normally considered socially acceptable.
* DistractedByTheSexy: leading to:
* ForWantOfANail: He's one nail, if not the nail, that undoes Richars Vorrutyer when the heroes arrange to have him occupied elsewhere during a crucial vote in the Council of Counts.
* GenderRarityValue: Another aspect of his plan. Given Barrayar's skewed demographics, any girl is practically guaranteed a husband if she wants one, making each a two for one deal.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: he's so focused on the Barrayaran tradition of paternal rights that he failed to consider Barrayar's equally strong notion of paternal ''responsibility'' that Miles and Gregor -- at Ekaterin's suggestion -- exploit to put the kibosh on his scheme.
* HumiliationConga: Not that he didn't deserve it.
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain: He's a pigheaded putz who is either blind or indifferent to the thorny emotional problems raised by the virtual-rape-by-proxy aspects of his scheme. But he does sincerely care for his many little girls, if only because unhappy badly-adjusted liege people would derail his plan... and because he knows the Emperor could terminate his parental rights if he abused or neglected them.
* LaserGuidedKarma: "Dowries! ''Dowries!''" -- due to one of Barrayar's many legal quirks, the Emperor is able to set a minimum dowry (bride gift) for a Count's acknowledged female bastards. Gregor takes merciless advantage of this to punish Vormuir and discourage imitators until the relevant laws can be updated.
** The real icing on the cake is the fact that the dowries will make all ''118'' of them attractive marriage prospects even if Barrayar's demographic trends revert to something more balanced. This means Count Vormuir will almost certainly have to pay for each and every one of his transgressions.
* LysistrataGambit: Countess Vormuir uses this to punish him for his extramarital activities, at least until Lord Dono convinces her to participate in their ForWantOfANail scheme.
* RefugeInAudacity: Gotta admit, his little plan is pretty [[IncrediblyLamePun ballsy.]] Even more radical than Dono's, in its own way.

'''Admiral Desplains'''

Chief of Operations for the Barrayaran Imperial Service. Ivan's boss at the beginning of ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance''. Visiting Komarr for fleet inspections.

* DaChief: As his main job at the time is investigating for military corruption, pretty much.
%%* FourStarBadass
* DeadpanSnarker: One of the things that keeps Ivan in line is the fear that if he doesnt the admiral will use sarcasm on him.
* HappilyMarried: We meet his wife briefly when he returns to Barrayar with Ivan and Tej.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: values Ivan for the skills he uses to maintain his relatively low profile, as they make Ivan a competent adjutant.
* RetiredBadass: In ''Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen'' he gives Oliver the right of first refusal for his soon to be old job.

'''Pierre "Le Sanguinaire" Vorrutyer'''

Warleader of Emperor Dorca the Just who brought the Vor into submission.

* TheButcher: His name in English means "Bloody Peter".
* TheDragon: Dorca's favorite hatchet man and most feared liegeman.
* TheDreaded: You don't earn the sobriquet "Le Sanguinere" for hosting tea parties.
* FourStarBadass: So much so that ''Piotyr Vorkosigan'', who was himself a first-rate general in everything from cavalry tactics to space-age warfare, reminisced about him with enthusiastic awe.
* GunboatDiplomacy: Cavalry diplomacy, rather. But yeah.
* HenpeckedHusband: It's said that the only one he was afraid of besides {{the Emperor}} was his wife. And some weren't sure he actually feared {{the Emperor}}.
* LongDeadBadass: Not quite so long, the History of Barrayar from collapse to rediscovery was actually fairly short.
%%* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast
%%* ShroudedInMyth

'''Dorca the Just'''

Legendary Emperor who united Barrayar and brought the Vor under submission. Called "The Just" for his competence but [[{{Understatement}} not necessarily]] for his gentleness. Seems to be regarded by most Barrayarans as [[FairForItsDay Fair For His Day.]]

* TheDreaded: Miles notes that he's known as "Dorca the Just" primarily because he was absolutely ruthless in dispensing rough justice.
* TheEmperor: Historically he's like Tokugawa Ieyasu and Emperor Meiji of Japan rolled into one: He brought the warrior caste to heel like Tokugawa and transformed the role of the emperor from figurehead to absolute monarch like Meiji.
* TheExtremistWasRight: His methods in unifying Barrayar were pretty much exactly as extreme as they get, but they ''did'' left a much more stable society, and without him the Cetagandans would definitely have a field day insted of the murderous LaResistance they've encountered.
* FounderOfTheKingdom: Dorca turned Barrayar from a gaggle of constantly warring feudal states into a stable absolute monarchy.
* GoodIsNotNice: Pierre "Le Sanguinaire" was ''afraid of him''.
* GunboatDiplomacy: How Dorca unified the empire though AsskickingEqualsAuthority.
* LongDeadBadass: You'd think so but this trope is actually subverted since Barrayar's local history isn't all that long. In fact, Aral is just his great-grandson, and there are probably people on Barrayar who still remember him personally.
* MeaningfulName: He is called ''The Just'' for being competent, bringing peace and bringing the Vor to heel using the [[PayEvilUntoEvil Barrayaran idea of justice.]] Perhaps galactics wouldn't have called that a good reason for the title, but Barrayarans didn't really have time to be squeamish.
* PayEvilUntoEvil: The fate of Vor who insist on continuing banditry and private wars.
%%* ShroudedInMyth

'''Mad Emperor Yuri'''

Predecessor to Ezar. Led war against Cetaganda but grew paranoid and ordered death squad after those he feared including Aral's family.

* TheCaligula: went crazy, tried to massacre everyone who had a claim on the throne.
* DeathOfAThousandCuts: Quite literally as his capital punishment, he was to be cut with a blade by just about every Vor who sided against him. It was later called "Yuri's Dismemberment." [[LaserGuidedKarma Aral got the first cut.]] A child at the time, however, [[VengeanceFeelsEmpty Aral found he didn't want it as much as he'd thought]].
* DefiantToTheEnd: Mocked Aral just before he took his aforementioned cut.
-->'''Aral:''' He leered at me. "Strike, little boy. If you dare while you wear my uniform. My uniform on a child."
* EvilUncle: To Aral's mother Olivia Vorbarra/Vorkosigan, and as extension an Evil Great-Uncle to Aral himself.
* HeWhoFightsMonsters: After Dorca's death, ''he'' became the face of the LaResistance fighting the Cetagandans, and it screwed him hugely.
* MadArtist: He was famous for the absurd architectural projects he patronized, including the [[RunningGag infamously]] [[SoBadItsGood ugly]] [=ImpSec=] building.
* RebelLeader: Of LaResistance fighting the Centagandan invaders.
* SelfFulfillingProphecy: He sent out death squads to kill nobles he thought were plotting to overthrow him, along with their families. Funny thing about sending death squads after your nobles (and their families); after too many times, they start plotting to overthrow you. They eventually succeeded and then some.

'''Lord Dono Vorrutyer the Mad Architect'''

Ancestor of Count Dono's. Famed for eccentric building styles and for building Imp Sec headquarters. A [[SoBadItsGood running joke]] of Barrayarans and the despair of Security officers who must work there.

* CrazyPrepared: His aesthetic style is [[{{Understatement}} questionable]] but from the security standpoint he is impeccable.
%%* MadArtist
%%* ShroudedInMyth

'''Prince Xav Vorbarra'''

Brother of Yuri and ambassador for the resistance. Usually spoken of in a positive light even from the point of view of modern Barrayar. Miles' great grandfather through his daughter Princess Olivia and the source of Miles' (and Aral's) arguable claim to the throne.

* {{Ambadassador}}: He was Barrayar's ambassador to Beta when the Cetagandans invaded, which is why he was off-world and may explain his relatively cosmopolitan attitudes for a man of his generation.
* HeroicBastard: According to WordOfGod, he was a bastard son of the Emperor who was legitimized later on.
%%* LongDeadBadass
* [[OddFriendship Odd Marriage]]: With a Betan when offworld marriages were rare. As he works offworld it kind of makes sense.
* RebelLeader: Similar to his brother Yuri — he was the other face of Barrayaran Resistance, only for the wider Galactic community. Probably this was what let him to remain a little more sane afterwards.
* TheScrounger: Much of his job was getting Betan weapons for Barrayar to fight off the Cetagandans.
* SensitiveGuyAndManlyMan: References to him make him seem more amiable then the [[ProudWarriorRace ferocious]] and sometimes bloodthirsty Vor of his time and one could infer him being able to better fit into Gregor's court.
* WhiteSheep: He objects to HonorKilling of the children of Barrayarans raped or seduced by Cetagandans.


[[folder: The Dendarii Mercenaries]]

'''Commander [[spoiler: later Admiral]] Elli Quinn'''

Devastatingly beautiful former Oseran mercenary; after her face got burned off by plasma fire in one of his first battles, Miles bought her a very nice new one, and since then she's used it, plus her superlative competence and hilariously twisted personality, to spectacular effect in the Dendarii. [[spoiler: Also sleeping with Miles, at least until the events of ''Memory''.]]

* ActionGirl: of the "act before you think" variety, at least at first, though she's actually more cunning than she lets on.
* TheBlank: For a period of time. Miles gets her a new one. Ivan made the tactical error of audibly commenting on her grotesque appearance before the surgical repair. When she met him seven years later, he'd forgotten and tried to turn on the charm -- but she hadn't.
* CharacterTic: She bites her nails when she's under serious stress.
* LadyOfWar: Certainly by the time she [[spoiler: takes over Miles' job as Admiral of the Dendarii, plus his working relationship with Barrayaran Imperial Security.]]
* LovesMyAlterEgo: Was in love with Admiral Naismith, but ''not'' in love with Lord Vorkosigan, despite knowing that they were the same person. [[spoiler:Her inability to find a way to work around this ultimately scuttled the relationship.]]
* OddFriendship: With Athosian NonActionGuy Ethan, eventually.
* SoBeautifulItsACurse: Her new face. She realized it the second time a soldier made a pass at her instead of following orders, forcing her to learn some new leadership techniques.
* TallDarkAndSnarky: 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 ActionGirl constrained by Barrayaran social norms...until she takes a role in Miles' new mercenary-ing endeavor and gets to spread her wings. [[spoiler: Marries Baz Jesek (despite an AnguishedDeclarationOfLove from Miles...bad timing, son) after her father's death.]]

%%* ActionGirl
* ChildByRape: 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.
%%* HappilyMarried
* IGaveMyWord: She may be a renegade Barrayaran but she still takes her marriage vows as [[SeriousBusiness seriously]] as any [[ProperLady Vor woman]]. When one Dendarii officer hits on her, she doesn't just reject him , she considers the advances an implied insult to her character.
* LadyOfWar: InTheBlood, considering who her father is. She's sick of death and violence by ''Mirror Dance'' and just wants to settle down.
* MissingMom: Well, she ''was'' missing, right up until [[spoiler: she walked in and shot Elena's father to death right in front of her. Mother and daughter do eventually manage to some degree of reconciliation, despite the circumstances surrounding both Elena's conception and their deadly first meeting. Just how much is never made explicit. The fact that Miles notes both Elenas are meeting on a semi-regular basis indicates it's going well.]]

'''Commodore Baz Jesek'''

An honest, very competent Barrayaran 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, [[spoiler: 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.]]

* DangerousDeserter: Averted. It's his [[NoWomansLand Barrayaran-bred]] ActionGirl wife you want to watch out for.
%%* HappilyMarried
%%* MrFixit

'''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.

* BerserkButton: During "Labyrinth", develops one re: the powerful Jacksonian Houses that deal in the flesh trade (particularly Houses Bharaputra and Ryoval). [[spoiler: 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.]]
* BiTheWay: In the most literal way possible.
%%* ChivalrousPervert
* ChronicHeroSyndrome: Seems to have caught it off Miles by "Labyrinth", [[spoiler: and in ''Mirror Dance'' it costs Bel its job.]]
* [[DidNotGetTheGirl Did Not Get The Cute Quaddie]]: [[spoiler: Or so it appears by the end of "Labyrinth", anyway, but by ''Diplomatic Immunity''...]]
* [[HappilyMarried Happily Partnered]]: [[spoiler: With Nicol, as of ''Diplomatic Immunity''. They're even planning a family together.]]
%%* {{Hermaphrodite}}
* ItsPersonal: Any kind of PlayingWithSyringes 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.
* KnightErrant: Bel accepts a fee of only one Betan dollar, just to make it official, to rescue Nicol -- but when Bel looks her up years later it claims to have kept that very dollar as its lady's favor. Miles is suspicious (knowing Bel's talent for scam) but admits that it's a wonderfully romantic gesture regardless.
* PronounTrouble: 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.
* PurelyAestheticGender: Bel tends to vary its gender presentation along the sliding scale of masculinity/femininity depending upon what it wants from the situation at hand -- or sometimes just to mess with people.

'''Ky Tung'''

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.

* AccidentalTruth: Practically the first thing he says to Miles is "Who do you think you are? Lord Vorkosigan?" He was referring to ''Aral's'' reputation as a strategic genius, but nearly caused Miles to choke on his drink.
* AscendedFanboy: Of Aral Vorkosigan's mad tactical skills.
%%* CoolOldGuy
* HonourBeforeReason: While more practical than Miles about it, Ky is a warrior and tactician first, a mercenary second; ProudWarriorRaceGuy Miles appreciated this quality, Oser didn't. Guess who got to benefit from Ky's brains and experience, not to mention his loyalty?
* OldMaster: Takes on Miles as a tactical and military apprentice.
* PassingTheTorch: To Elli, after he decides to [[spoiler: retire to Earth and get married.]]
* WorthyOpponent: To Miles in ''The Warrior's Apprentice'', before they became allies.
** He was also a junior officer at Komarr. In other words, he survived ''both'' Vorkosigans.
* TheUnreveal: Ky's parting words to Miles imply that he's aware of Miles' true identity.

'''Sergeant Taura'''

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 [[spoiler: 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.

%%* ActionGirl
* {{Beastess}}: Miles describes sex with her as like "being mugged by a Goddess".
* BewareTheNiceOnes: 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.
* BigEater: Her metabolism is stuck in permanent overdrive due to House Bharaputra's genetic tinkering.
* DeadGuyJunior: Miles [[spoiler:and Ekaterine]] name their youngest daughter in her honor.
* FirstGirlWins: Miles sleeps with Taura (discreetly) while in a relationship with Quinn. He does it partly because Taura doesn't have long to live, but also because he simply can't let her go.
* FriendsWithBenefits: With Miles, though she's clearly more than a little sad to see him taken off the market in "Winterfair Gifts".
* GameFace: She can make grown men wet themselves with hers.
* GentleGiant: In spite of all the things spliced into her that make her a killer, she's downright cuddly. When the Dendarii are stuck with a hold full of terrified kids, Taura goes in and helps calm them down.
* HugeGirlTinyGuy: A necessary consequence of being eight feet tall, particularly where Miles is concerned.
* IntimatePsychotherapy: How Miles keeps her from acting on her suicidal impulses in "Labyrinth". (It was her idea.)
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: [[spoiler: She takes apparent comfort, during the events of "Winterfair Gifts", in the fact that Ekaterin obviously loves Miles deeply, and vice versa.]]
%%* MonsterGirl
* PinkMeansFeminine: Taura's initial efforts to pretty up are informed by this, despite multiple people pointing out that however hot she is, pink frills don't do her any favours.
* RescueRomance: Five words. "He came back for me."
* SheCleansUpNicely: With a bit of help from Lady Alys. Armsman Roic concurs.
* SuperSoldier: A genetically engineered soldier built by a committee with no actual ''soldiers'' on it. It would be hilarious, except...[[TearJerker see below.]]
* TomboyAndGirlyGirl: With Ellie Quinn. Ironically, beautiful Ellie is the tomboy. Taura's the girly one.
* YourDaysAreNumbered: A built-in component of her SuperSoldier 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.

'''Arde Mayhew'''

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.)

* TheAlcoholic: When Miles first meets him, he's devolved to this.
* BecomingTheMask: Though a [[FishOutOfWater Betan]], he learns to behave like a devoted Armsman when Miles is around.



'''Prince Serg Vorbarra'''

Son of Ezar Vorbarra, father of Gregor, husband of Kareen, and demonstrably about the worst thing to hit the imperial Vorbarra line since they took Mad Yuri apart. A cruel, spoiled sadist who fell in readily with the monstrous Ges Vorrutyer and eventually, in Kareen's bitter words, "surpassed the master". [[spoiler: His father Ezar set up the entire Escobar fiasco to annihilate Serg's warmongering faction while giving his son a chance to die a warrior's death.]] RoyallyScrewedUp doesn't even start to cover it.

* TheCaligula: Invoked, and noted that he was getting worse by the day, thanks to Ges Vorrutyer.
* DomesticAbuser: Hinted at in the behaviour of his widow Princess Kareen.
* GloryHound: Unlike Miles, very much ''not'' a positive example.
* TheWrongfulHeirToTheThrone: Or would have been, if Aral and Ezar hadn't taken care of him.

'''Ges Vorrutyer'''

Serg's crony and teacher in cruelty, Aral's former brother-in-law, a vile man whose extremely foul proclivities proved to be his downfall. [[spoiler: Killed by Bothari, though ultimately Cordelia Naismith had to take the credit.]]

* DepravedBisexual: [[spoiler: Unlike his ex-boyfriend (and ex-brother in law) Aral,]] Ges plays this deadly straight. He even starts referencing the Marquis de Sade.
* FingerInTheMail: Ges planned to have a long lock of Cordelia's very red hair with him during a staff meeting to taunt Aral. It never happens.
* {{Foil}}: For Oliver Jole and Aral himself.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: [[spoiler: Breaking Bothari and then turning him loose on Cordelia while armed was the last, if not the worst, mistake Ges ever made.]]
* IfICantHaveYou: Towards Aral.
* IHaveYouNowMyPretty: Towards Cordelia
* SmugSnake: Is entirely too convinced he has [[WarriorTherapist Cordelia Naismith]] at his mercy because she's tied down and naked.
* UsedToBeASweetKid: After their marriage, Cordelia finds unsettling evidence of a kinder, gentler Ges in Aral's childhood bedroom.

'''Cavilo''' [[spoiler:/ Livia Nu]]

Mercenary in command of Randall's Rangers, Cavilo is probably the series' smartest antagonist, Miles' match in brainpower with absolutely zero morals.

* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: One of her defining traits. [[spoiler:Though to be fair, Stanis Metzov really had it coming.]]
* GambitPileup: Unfortunately (for her) it backfires.
* KickTheSonOfABitch: [[spoiler: "Stanis, darling..." she says, just before murdering the man who raped her.]]
* NotSoDifferent: 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.
-->'''Gregor''': You're both twisty. And, ah, short.
* OpportunisticBastard[=/=]FatalFlaw: Cavilo is the leader of a mercenary company who has no qualms about betraying her employer if she gets a better offer from someone else. After capturing her at the end of the book Miles gives her a ReasonYouSuckSpeech about it.
--> '''Miles''': You should have stuck to your original contract. Or your second plan. Or your third. You should, in fact, have stuck to ''something''. Anything. Your total self-interest did not make you strong, it made you a rag in the wind, anybody's to pick up.
* PreMortemOneLiner: "Stanis, darling. 'Spread your legs for me, bitch, or I'll blow your brains out.'"
%%* StarterVillain
* TheVamp: And she's terribly effective at it, [[spoiler: though not enough fool Gregor.]]
* XanatosGambit
--> '''Cavilo''': 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.
'''Baron Ryoval'''

Head of the Jacksonian House Ryoval, aficionado in producing horribly genetically modified slaves to satisfy the perverted desires of his wealthy customers; practically makes his fellow Jacksonian barons look human. [[spoiler: Killed by Mark Vorkosigan mid-torture, and had his House broken up among his rivals.]]

* BodyHorror: His House's stock in trade.
%%* CirclingMonologue
%%* ColdBloodedTorture
* GrandTheftMe: 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.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: [[spoiler: Torturing Mark until he got Dissociative Identity Disorder amused Ryoval...and ultimately let [[SuperpoweredEvilSide Killer]] off the leash.]]
* MindRape: His favourite kind, after having gotten bored with the more traditional sort.
* NiceJobBreakingItHerod: 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.
* TortureTechnician: Has a whole stable full of them, and indulges from time to time for his own amusement.

'''Ser Galen'''

Seriously disturbed and extraordinarily cruel Komarran terrorist who [[spoiler: helped create Mark and raised him to be a duplicate Miles as part of a byzantine plot against Aral.]] Not a good father; his son Duv was voluntarily estranged from him [[spoiler: and Mark, also after a fashion his son, shot him point-blank.]]

* AbusiveParents: To Mark, despite Mark's being a clone. He didn't leave his biological son Duv Galeni many happy memories either, if their interactions are anything to go by.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: [[spoiler: After abusing and torturing Mark to train him into the perfect TykeBomb, Mark turns on him and shoots him dead.]]
* JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope: 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.
* WindmillCrusader: 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 Barrayaran occupation of Komarr. Shame about his methods, and his grip on reality, [[spoiler: and the fact that his idea of "training" includes sexually assaulting Mark with a shock stick for the unforgivable crime of trying to sneak out for a date with a girl...]]

'''Lord Richars Vorrutyer'''

Dono and Byerly's cousin, and a real nasty piece of work. Suspected of murdering the previous Count Vorrutyer, and perhaps his fiancee before that. Appears to have inherited all of the Vorrutyer's families' demons that somehow bypassed Byerly and Dono, only he's been sneaky enough not to get caught.

* CriticalResearchFailure: [[invoked]] He loves to think he's Count material, but his knowledge of the political scene is woefully inadequate.
* [[ShootTheDog Drown The Puppy]]: His retaliation for Donna squealing on his attempted rape of her.
* RapeAsBackstory: He's the rapist.
* SmugSnake / UnderestimatingBadassery: He talks down to Miles, forgetting just who Miles is.
-->'''Richars:''' Come on, Vorkosigan. We're both as Old Vor as it's possible to be. It's stupid of us to be brangling when we should both be on the same side. Our interests march together. It's a tradition. Don't pretend your father and grandfather weren't top party horse-traders.\\
'''Miles:''' My grandfather . . . learned his political science from the Cetagandans. Mad Emperor Yuri offered him postgraduate instruction after that. My grandfather schooled my father. ''(thinking) And both of them schooled me. This is the only warning you will receive, Richars.''

'''General Stanis Metzov'''

Barrayaran general assigned as commander of the most miserable base on the planet as punishment for suspected atrocities during the Komarr Revolt. Latter gets it into his head to bully Miles, then orders a group of techs to risk unnecessary danger cleaning up [[FateWorseThanDeath gene-mutating poison]]. When they refuse, he orders them to strip naked in polar winter under the eyes of a firing squad made up of young, newly-recruited soldiers. Under the eyes of the son of the [[TooDumbToLive most powerful man in Barrayar.]] When he [[SarcasmMode "somehow"]] finds himself in exile, he takes service under Cavilo, only to try to murder Admiral Naismith and get captured in the process.

* BullyingADragon: He didn't know that Miles was personally a MagnificentBastard, but he ''should'' have known that he was the son of [[TheGoodChancellor the prime minister]], a foster brother of TheEmperor and a family friend of [[TheSpymaster Simon Illyan]].
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Discussed. When told he was cashiered "for brutality", a rival of Admiral Naismith says "From the Barrayaran Imperial Service? That must have taken some doing."
%%* GeneralRipper
* IrrationalHatred: Of Miles. Exactly one ill-timed snarky remark on his first day at Kyril, and Metzov decides they are ''enemies for life.''
* KarmicDeath: See Cavilo's Pre Mortem One Liner.
%%* TheNeidermeyer
* [[ReassignedToAntarctica Reassigned to Kyril Island]]: Except it is decided that Kyril Island is too good for him.
%%* StupidEvil



'''Doctor Ethan Urquhart'''

* FishOutOfWater: When he first gets to Kline Station. Ethan's from an all-male PlanetOfHats that has no contact with women at all.
* NiceGuy: First to his irresponsible nitwit of a foster brother/boyfriend Janos, then [[spoiler: to troubled Cetagandan gene-spliced super-agent Terrence Cee, with much more success to the latter than the former.]]
* NonActionGuy: At first.
* OddFriendship: Between super-responsible, straight-laced StraightGay NonActionGuy Ethan and snarky badass ActionGirl Elli Quinn. One's a strictly religious downsider, the other a spacer mercenary: together [[TheyFightCrime they take on agents of the Cetagandan Empire!]]
* StraightGay: Although technically since there are no women on his planet, and indeed most Athosians have never even ''seen'' a woman, they may have no concept of effeminacy upon which to base CampGay behavior. In addition, while most Athosians undergo a "madness" when seeing women for the first time, Ethan has no reaction.
* TookALevelInBadass: With a little help from Elli Quinn.

'''Terrence Cee'''

* BabiesEverAfter: [[spoiler:What he was trying to do with Janine, and what eventually ended up happening in spite of her death.]]
* BiTheWay: Ghem-colonel Millisor implies that he was designed this way. [[spoiler:It is hinted that he ultimately becomes Ethan Urquhart's romantic partner]].
* DefusingTheTykeBomb: 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.
* PinealWeirdness: The source of his abilities.
* {{Telepathy}}: An unusual case: his is chemically generated. [[spoiler:It is also receptive only. He can read minds, but not send thoughts]].

'''Duv Galeni'''

Son of Komarran terrorist, Ser Galen, Duv joined the Barrayaran army after getting his [=PhD=] in Barrayaran history. An ambitious and conscientious officer, he hopes to rise in the ranks to better help his native Komarr. [[spoiler: Later married to Delia Koudelka. Also winds up the first Komarran to head [=ImpSec=] Komarran Affairs.]]

* TheAtoner: For the mistakes of his father.
%%* BadAssBookworm
%%* BadAssBureaucrat
* BaitAndSwitchTyrant: Milies initially thinks he's a deliberately obstructive superior plotting against him, but that turns out to not be the case and he and Miles end up (somewhat uneasy) friends.
* BewareTheQuietOnes: Duv is highly educated, well-read, level-headed, does everything by the book...and after a ''really bad'' week, took down a couple of Cetagandan ghem commandos ''with his bare hands'', quite possibly by repeatedly smashing their heads into a nearby car.
* DeadpanSnarker: As one of Miles' former commanding officers, it comes naturally.
* DidNotGetTheGirl: Subverted; he loses Laisa Toscane [[spoiler:to the Emperor, but by the end of the same book he's pretty solid with Delia Koudelka]].
* {{Foil}}: To Miles. He is quiet, rule-bound, and driven to work his butt off to be both good at his job and completely incorruptible -- because if he's not, he'll be ejected from his job and things will instantly become much harder for the Komarrans who try to follow him.
* GentlemanAndAScholar: He actually has a [=PhD=], but nobody calls him "doctor" in [=ImpSec=].
* OohMeAccentsSlipping: Happens in universe when, [[spoiler: furious over losing Laisa to Gregor]], calls Miles in a drunken rage. His cultured accent slips down to "street Komaran".
* UnwantedAssistance: Toward Miles [[spoiler: after said Miles, having accidentally sabotages his chances with Laisa Toscane by introducing her to Gregor, offers to assist Duv in his courtship of Delia Koudelka.]]

'''Laisa Vorbarra[=/=]Laisa Toscane'''

New wife of Gregor. First introduced in ''Memory''. Their wedding forms the backdrop of the novel ''A Civil Campaign''.

* {{Ambadassador}}: Well sort of. When first met she is a lobbyist for Komarran shipping interests and impresses Gregor with her intelligence and political savvy.
* BigBeautifulWoman: Is described as having "a figure that made Miles, for one, just want to sort of fall over on top of her and burrow in for the winter..." This proves to be a source of chagrin for Lady Alys, who had tried unsuccessfully for years to catch Emperor Gregor's eye with an endless parade of tall, slender Vor women, only to have him fall in love with a short, plump Komarran entirely of his own accord.
* HappilyMarried: To Gregor.
* HotConsort: Downplayed. She is pretty, not gorgeous. But Gregor had had enough of gorgeous-looking suitors and secretly wanted a motherly looking one. Especially since he was somewhat paranoid about Vor genes producing another Prince Serg.
* NonIdleRich: She is the daughter and primary heiress of the powerful Toscane shipping dynasty, but she holds a doctorate in economics and is a shrewd negotiator in her own right.
* NotWithThemForTheMoney: As a scion of "those Toscanes" the money really wasn't an issue but ,despite the political advantages, she didn't marry Gregor to become Empress, she married to become Gregor's wife. As it happens, she ''also'' makes one heck of an Empress.
* ThinksLikeARomanceNovel: She has a romantic streak and was enamored by some of the "fairy tale" aspects of Barrayaran history.

'''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.

* BerserkButton: If you sabotage a medical procedure performed by Doctor Raven Durona, putting the patient's life beyond any skills he has, he will be ''very, very pissed''. Medicine is always chancy, but he does not appreciate being set up to fail.
* ClonesArePeopleToo: They refer to each other as siblings rather than clones, despite being raised on the distinctly clone-non-friendly world of Jackson's Whole. One of the reasons they wind up helping our heroes is to get the hell ''off'' Jackson's Whole so they can have their own individual lives apart from each other.
* ConditionedToAcceptHorror: They have a minor, disquieting habit of discussing/witnessing ethically dubious or morally bankrupt medical practices with more enthusiasm than one would like.
* DefectorFromDecadence: Lily, from House Ryoval. Inverted with her first daughter, who became Baronne Bharaputra. The two women hate each other.
* IntimateHealing: Rowan Durona practices this with Miles.
* TheMatriarch: Lily, the matriarch, who is over 100 years old, but being a part of House Ryoval has hardened her forever. Miles even notes "100 year old eyes look at you differently."
* ThemeNaming: All of the women are named after flowers, all of the men are named after birds.
* TranquilFury: Raven Durona, during ''Cryoburn'', has a moment when he removes his surgical gloves and mask, face frozen into blankness, and breathes out sharply. Miles notes that other doctors would probably have thrown the equipment across the room and started swearing, but Raven still gets the sentiment across.
* TrulySingleParent: Lily Durona.

'''Enrique Borgos'''

Mark's Escobaran business partner and creator of the butter bug -- a creature that ingests organic matter of just about any variety and regurgitates it as bland nutritious goo that can be processed and flavoured in an enormous number of ways (nicknamed bug ''butter'', not bug ''vomit'', whatever Miles tells you), as well as excreting very high-quality fertilizer. He is brilliant and... fixated.

* AbsentMindedProfessor: So very. Selling more than 100% of his projects to venture capitalists is probably the best example.
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Obsessed with his butter bugs, thinks customizing his bugs (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 adapts his dissertation ''into poetry'' because he wanted to impress a pretty lady.
* CloudCuckooLander: Enrique cares deeply for his bugs to the point that he cries when the queens die. It appears completely beyond his powers of comprehension that most people do not feel the same way immediately, or even after he explains how wonderful they are at length.
* LovableNerd: Well... Martya seems to like him, anyway.
* ManChild: He doesn't need an assistant, he needs a ''keeper''. Or a mother. He has to be reminded to bathe, eat, sleep, dress, look both ways before crossing the road, that most people are a bit cagey about eating bug puke no matter how sanitary and nutritious it is...
* StupidCrooks: Before meeting Mark, Enrique had sold several hundred percent of butter bug stock to his investors. Notably, he didn't even seem aware that this might be illegal. Or even impossible. "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.

* DistressedDamsel: The closest thing to a traditional one in the whole series, and that doesn't stop her participating in the fight to escape.
* RescueRomance: With Bel.
* [[TranshumanAliens Transhuman Alien]]: Genetically engineered for free fall.

'''The ghem Estif Arqua Family (House Cordonah)'''

House Cordonah is run by a Jacksoninan pirate and a ghem/haut Cetagandan woman. They have 11 children, six of whom were extensively genetically modified by the Baronne. Using her own gene pool, the Baronne created "Jewel" kids followed by "normal" kids in alternating sequence. The Jewels are just as much siblings as the other kids, but aren't known as such publicly.

* AmazingTechnicolorPopulation: the ghem Estif ladies are white, Shiv is black, the even kids are black (described as "cinnamon" rather than using the StarbucksSkinScale), and the Jewels have skin shades resembling their namesake gemstones (ruby, emerald, pearl, topaz, lapis lazuli, and onyx) .
* AmoralAttorney and HelloAttorney: Pidge.
* BadassNormal: Udine regards Shiv as her equal in intellect and ambition.
%%* BadassFamily
* BattleCouple: Shiv and Udine.
* BestServedCold: Moira and the brooch at the end. It's worth it to her to blow up a very, very expensive item just to punish the haut for throwing her out.
%%* TheClan
* CoolOldLady: Moira, who is 130 years old but still breaking into a hidden bunker and one hundred percent capable of {{Neck Lift}}ing people she takes a dislike to.
* DancingIsSeriousBusiness: In fact it ''is'' business. The Jewels use their dance as an opportunity to spy on guests.
* DudeWheresMyReward: Amazingly, Pidge has the nerve to demand a 10% finder's fee of the treasure, because it wouldn't have been found without them. Even more amazingly, they do end up with 5% of it, which is their ten percent less expenses.
** Not only that, they do this while being personally tried by TheEmperor for among other things, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking destroying ImpSec headquarters, risking the pollution of Vorbarr Sultana by the use of untested biological agents, risking the lives of unwitting Barrayaran subjects and being just plain obnoxious]]. Whatever you can say about them it is an awesome moment of RefugeInAudacity.
*** Not to mention, the reason they knew where it was is that grandma had been married to a Ghem lord during the Occupation and had helped sort out the plunder. In other words they were claiming a finder's fee for a treasure whose location they knew because one of them had helped steal it!
*** However, they do have leverage, as the Cetagandans have a toehold in the house that usurped them, the Prestenes, and having House Cordonah in Barrayar's pocket is extremely important for Gregor, since Baron Fell is aging.
* EvilCannotComprehendGood: They all seem surprised that at least some powerful Barrayarans actually manage to do their jobs without bribery and actually value their given word. Or that Ivan married Tej for no other reason than to get her out of trouble. In Ivan's case they can't quite understand that he isn't playing for the Imperial throne when he is close enough in ancestry to make a play for it. That is kind of "evil cannot comprehend sloth."
** In general they are so obsessed with scheming that they can't comprehend anyone who isn't. Justified, as Simon Illyan went in with them on their scheme, behind Gregor's back!
%%* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes
* EveryoneIsRelated: The general public think the Jewels are the Baronne's specially created dance troupe. In reality, they're as much family as the "normal" kids.
%%* FakingTheDead
%%* FamilyBusiness
%%* TheFamilyThatSlaysTogether
%%* HostageSituation
* {{Hypocrite}}: Tej and the rest of her family refer to commoners as [[FantasticSlurs grubbers]]. However, in Jacksonian society titles are meaningless without wealth to back them up, and their house has currently been ousted, leaving them virtually broke and technically no longer nobles.
* InstantExpert: Udine is the daughter of a haut lady and a ghem general. The kids are all half-Cetagandan, and canon precedence is that carefully cultivated Ceta genes can grant people the kind of dexterity, intellect, and learning speed that makes this trope possible.
* MassiveNumberedSiblings: Half of the kids (the Jewels) are visibly genetically modified, the other half were more normalized. They call themselves the "odd sibs" and "even sibs."
* MeltingPotNomenclature: Shiv got ahold of an old Earth baby name book and gave a lot of his children 3--5 names at a time, themed based on Earth locations.
* TheMole: [[spoiler: Erik.]]
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: "Shiv" is a common term for an improvised stiletto.
* NobleFugitive: In fact this is {{Lampshaded}} when the book comments that Tej's marriage to Ivan works perfectly in Barrayar because every [[BlueBlood blue blooded]] vor will be enchanted by a tale of rescueing a [[NotSoDifferent lost princess from a fallen dynasty.]]
* NotSoDifferent: Sometimes when they are talking shop with Vor about the details of various intrigues, you get this impression.
* ObliviouslyEvil: Can be chalked up to haut sense of entitlement, but Moira ghem Estif manages to render even Lady Alys and Simon Illyan speechless with her matter-of-fact recounting of her late-husband's personal tragedy of losing his son during the Cetagandan occupation of Barrayar when the young man went to Vorkosigan Vashnoi to be with (and possibly rescue) his Barrayaran lover just as the Cetagandan's nuked the entire city. That she tells this tale at a ''dinner party'' hosted for her family by Lady Alys, and her nonchalant reaction to the observation that the site no longer ''glows'' leaves the Barrayarans too shocked to even be angry. Especially when she asks that the next time Ivan flies over the site (because she calmly notes that they presumably cannot land in the radioactive wasteland) that he give a nod to her deceased stepson and his boyfriend.
** Yet in her detached way she was sufficiently moved to remember and tell the story and request Ivan give a salute her stepson and his lover. She also mentions she conceived Udine specifically to make up to General Ghem-Estif for the loss of his (presumably) only child. Nonetheless, she seems to exhibit no concern over everyone else who was killed in the city, weighing the entire tragedy only in terms of how it [[ItsAllAboutMe personally affected her and her husband]].
* ObnoxiousInLaws: To Ivan. Well, when you roll into town, and take over your wife's life to the point where she doesn't even talk to her husband any more...Oh yeah, and they're trying to steal a ton of Cetagandan treasure from under the [=ImpSec=] offices.
* OnlyOneName: it appears that this is probably the case with the Jewels.
* OverlyLongName: the even-sib kids. Not surprisingly, they all go by nicknames.
* PirateBooty: the hidden treasures in the Cetagandan bunker hidden under the [=ImpSec=] building. With strong undertones of NaziGold, at least from the Barrayaran perspective -- most of the physical treasures there were stolen during the Cetagandan Occupation. Most of what's there that isn't just financially valuable is also fantastically historically valuable and often lost family heirlooms.
* RichesToRags: The motivation behind their plot on Barrayar.
* RoaringRampageOfRescue and RoaringRampageOfRevenge: presumably what the Arquas got up to by the time of the epilogue of ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance.''
* TheStateless: Lady Moira ghem Estif renounced her Cetagandan citizenship when she and her husband expatriated to Komarr in the wake of the disastrous invasion of Barrayar. Her husband took Komarran citizenship, and she had residency as his spouse. Since then, she has lived with House Cordonah on [[WretchedHive Jackson's Whole]], and as a resident alien on Earth, but specifically calls out her status as someone who's been stateless for over a century.
* ThemeNaming: The Jewels.
* TinyGuyHugeGirl: While nowhere near as stunted as Miles, Shiv is on the short side of average height while Udine is OneHeadTaller and ''much'' stronger than her willowy frame would indicate thanks to her Haut bloodlines.
* UglyGuyHotWife: Space pirate Shiv and half-haut half-ghem Udine.
* WhiteSheep: Tej and Amiri. Tej has no interest in her family's scheming and is perfectly happy with a comfortable life as Lady Vorpatril. Amiri has just as little interest and wishes to be a doctor on Escobar. Not surprisingly Amiri is Tej's [[BigBrotherWorship favorite sibling]], though she's actually closest to Rish who has been her KnightTemplarBigSister since birth.

'''Akuti Tejaswini Jyoti ghem Estif Arqua Vorpatril (Tej)'''

A Baronette from House Cordonah on Jackson's Whole and the second youngest of a very large family. Enters into a citizenship marriage with Ivan in order to avoid arrest and capture. Turns out to actually like being Lady Vorpatril, despite getting the "fall in love" and "get married" parts out of order.

* [[PerfectlyArrangedMarriage Accidently Arranged Marriage]]: Her marriage purchases an alliance with Barrayar through sheer good luck, and she never knew Ivan was the Emperor's cousin. When her dad hears about it, it seems to hurt his pride that such a useful Deal was not gotten through his scheming. Though of course she only wanted Ivan Xav, none of her earlier suitors brought as much of a political package as a bride-price.
* AgentsDating: With Ivan, though there are some [[ConflictingLoyalty mix-ups]] because of the in-law troubles.
* BigBrotherWorship: Toward Ameri who is offstage for much of the book but is her favorite sibling. Also toward Rish to some degree.
* BlessedWithSuck: Tej's highly tuned Cetagandan senses come with downsides. She has a low tolerance for sonic or visual dissonance and is subject to horrendous wormhole jump sickness. She also has this attitude to her large breasts, frustrated they made her too "top heavy" to be a serious dancer like her Jewel half-siblings.
* BondingOverMissingParents: Tej thinks this applies to her and Ivan. It doesn't.
* BuxomIsBetter: There's also a MyEyesAreUpHere when Ivan takes a little ''too'' long reading her nametag -- before sighing ''everyone'' has that issue.
* CitizenshipMarriage: With Ivan, in order to get diplomatic immunity on Komarr
* ConflictingLoyalty: Between her and Ivan Xav who is conflicted between her and Barrayar.
* DaddysGirl: Tej, very much so. Rish not so much. She's mama's girl through and through
* GivenNameReveal: And it's a mouthful.
* HappilyMarried: Surprisingly, given their elopement.
* InSeriesNickname: "Tej" turns out to be short for her OverlyLongName
* InsistentTerminology: always refers to her husband as "Ivan Xav" in every conversation and even inside her own head once she finds out that he's the only "Ivan Xav" among the many "Ivan Vorpatril"s in the Barrayaran peerage. Ivan Xav is ''her'' Ivan.
** Similarly, in her internal monologues, she always refers to Emperor Gregor as "The Gregor".
* InterruptedSuicide: Ivan's proposal stops her and Rish from throwing themselves off a building to avoid arrest and capture.
* InstantExpert: The whole ghem Estif Arqua brood are half-Cetagandan, and there's canon precedence for the carefully toggled Cetagandan genes conveying InstantExpert status in a number of areas (see: René Vorbretton and music). Despite being the "control child", Tej is no exception:
** Having never really driven before landing on Barrayar, Ivan signs Tej up for driving lessons. Within a few hours she gets her learner's permit, has one moment of hitting a pillar on her first day, and then manages to get her license to drive in a ''week.'' In ''Vorbarr Sultana traffic.''
** Picks up Barrayaran languages (all ''four'' of them) with stunning speed, to the point where she can identify a Barrayaran Russian speaker and converse with him fluently. She says to Ivan that languages are fun. Studying economics is much more like work.
* MafiaPrincess: of the {{Yakuza}} princess subtype. Played with. Her family doesn't understand her lack of enthusiasm for the freebooting Jacksonian lifestyle.
* MeaningfulName: "Princess Radiant Light." Ivan thinks her father must have thought the world of her.
* MusclesAreMeaningless: She is about as normal as anyone with a Haut grandparent can get, but she can still lift grown men off their feet without actually meaning to.
%%* NaiveNewcomer
* {{Omniglot}}: She can learn new languages in weeks. She picks up all four of Barrayar's languages in less than a month.
* OverlyLongName: A background character tries to read it off, hesitates, and then settles for "Lady Vorpatril."
* ReassignedToAntarctica: Subverted. When we last see her and Ivan, Ivan is Military Attache on an obscure planet where he was sent until the incident was forgotten and has moved the consulate to a tropical island so she and Ivan could spend a two-year working vacation. Kind of "Reassigned to Riviera."
%%* SternChase
* WhiteSheep: She's the least genetically modified child of the entire family (at dad's request), "the control child" and the least understood by her family because she isn't obsessed with power and control. When her family needs her to help rob a vault, her primary job is [[TheDriver driving the car.]]

'''Lapis Lazuli (Rish)'''

The next to the youngest Jewel in the Baronne's troupe of dancers and spies. A genetically engineered daughter of the Baronne, she has skin designed to look like her namesake, along with wicked dance skills, pointy ears, super strength and super senses.

* BetaCouple: With Byerly. She admires that he's as covertly sneaky as she is.
* BlessedWithSuck: Rish's senses are even move highly tuned than Tej's. She can't even drive a groundcar without experiencing sensory overload.
* DancingIsSeriousBusiness: And frequently camouflage for investigating a situation.
* DaddysGirl: Inverted. Rish is mama's girl through and through, deeply grateful to her mother for giving her a striking appearance and enhanced senses and abilities.
* DaytimeDramaQueen: While in hiding on Komarr she became addicted to several daytime holo-dramas.
* DeadpanSnarker: a match for Byerly in this regard
* DefrostingIceQueen: She's warm around her family, but Ivan finds her chilly and intimidating. Byerly probably has a hand in mellowing her out a bit.
-->'''Ivan''': You're my sister in law? That... explains a lot, actually.
* [[GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe Blue Skinned Space Babe]] shot through with metallic gold, as well.
* IAmWhatIAm: She's proud to be blue and has no interest in hiding that from the norms, and screw you if you find her freaky.
* InSeriesNickname: "Lapis Lazuli" is her stage name, "Rish" is her family nickname. If she has a formal name it's never revealed.
%%* InterruptedSuicide
* [[KnightTemplarBigBrother Knight Templar Big Sister]]: In fact the Barrayarans at first think she is a genetically engineered slave-bodyguard. She ''is'' genetically engineered, but her loyalty is perfectly normal sibling loyalty. Her parents tasked her with keeping an eye on her baby sister--which probably makes her more dangerous than any artificial loyalty programming ever could--and it's implied that she's been doing so for Tej's entire life.
* NobodyHereButUsStatues: She and the Jewels jobs would often be as "living statues". Of course, people would forget they could hear and see everything going on in a party, and made them perfect spies, too.
* OnlyOneName: possibly, but she doesn't seem to have the mouthful that Tej has.
* StageName: She claims Lapis Lazuli is her stage name, "Rish" is a family nickname like Tej, Pidge, and Star. The only other Jewel we meet (Onyx) also has a family nickname, "Jet". If any of the jewels have any other names it's not mentioned.
* SarcasticDevotee: Originally designed to be a loyal retainer ("jeeves"), but her mother discontinued loyalty treatments on the Jewels after a while. She's loyal on her own recognizance (and good old-fashioned filial piety). She loves her mom, dad, and baby sister in that order.
* ShoutOut: She looks a lot like a short [[{{Film/Avatar}} Na'vi]].
%%* SternChase
%%* SuperSenses
%%* SuperStrength

'''Ghem Colonel Benin'''

Cetagandan Security agent in ''Cetaganda'' who ferrets out a GovernmentConspiracy in the Centagandan court with Miles' help. Later meets Miles again in ''A Civil Campaign.''

* AlwaysGetsHisMan: It doesn't matter to him that the victim was just a Ba servant. What matters was that someone was murdered.
* {{Ambadassador}}: In ''A Civil Campaign'' we meet him as a Ghem-general and ambassador to Barrayar with the ultimate Cetagandan reward; [[BureaucraticallyArrangedMarriage a haut wife]]. He hints to Miles that Cetaganda knows who Admiral Naismath is.
* [[strike: Colonel Badass]] [[ColonelBadass General Badass]]: Thanks to Miles and Pel.
* EnemyMine: He is an agent of Barrayar's traditional rival in interstellar politics. And if Miles ever did a deep-cover job on Cetaganda, presumably he would be a WorthyOpponent. But when we see him, he is an ally of Miles.
* HeroOfAnotherStory: He's always on the opposite side of a mystery Miles is trying to solve, and one gets the impression that Benin has the tougher job.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Often painted as Miles' opposite number among the Cetagandans, and apparently equally open-minded. In ''Diplomatic Immunity'', it's Benin that Miles contacts to avert a potential Cetagandan-Barrayaran conflict.
%%* SecretPolice
* TribalFacePaint: Painted in Imperial rather than clan fashion to show where his loyalties were.

'''Leo Graf'''

Engineer who arranges the escape of the quaddies in ''Falling Free'' two hundred years before Miles and has Graf Station named after him.

%%* MessianicArchetype
* [[AuthorAvatar Author's Father]]: Stated by [[WordOfGod the author]] in fact.
%%* DefectorFromDecadence
%%* FounderOfTheKingdom
%%* GoingNative