"I could take over the universe with this army if I could ever get all their weapons pointed in the same direction."
— Aral Vorkosigan, Shards of Honor
Oh, do that again!
Aral: You pour out honor all around you, like a fountain.
Cordelia: That's funny. I don't feel full of honor, or anything else.
Aral: Naturally. Fountains keep nothing for themselves.
— Shards of Honor
"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
"Barrayar eats its children."
— Cordelia Vorkosigan, Barrayar
"Welcome to Barrayar, son. Here you go; have a world of wealth and poverty, wrenching change and rooted history. Have a birth; have two. Have a name. Miles means "soldier", but don't let the power of suggestion overwhelm you. Have a twisted form in a society that loathes and fears the mutations that have been its deepest agony. Have a title, wealth, power, and all the envy and hatred they will draw. Have your body ripped apart and rearranged. Inherit an array of friends and enemies you never made. Have a grandfather from hell. Endure pain, find joy, and make your own meaning, because the universe certainly isn't going to supply it. Always be a moving target. Live. Live. Live."
— Cordelia Vorkosigan to her newborn son Miles, Barrayar
"When my father was home on leave one time from the Betan Astronomical Survey, we made model gliders together. Two things were required to get them to fly. First we had to give them a running start. Then we had to let them go." She sighed. "Learning just when to let go was the hardest part."
— Cordelia Vorkosigan, watching a five-year-old Miles in the Epilogue of Barrayar
"A junior officer is required to stand and salute when a senior officer enters. Not hide under the bed."
— Miles to Ivan when his father knocks on the door, Warrior's Apprentice
Lord Miles Naismith Vorkosigan. Occupation: security risk. Hobbies: falling off walls, disappointing sick old men to death, making girls cry...
— Miles feeling sorry for himself. Warrior's Apprentice
"- unless you happen to be carrying two pairs of swords and are prepared to, say, offer an insult to Pilot Officer Mayhew's mother, you will simply have to -ah- contain yourself."
— Miles protecting his new liegeman from Betan Security, Warrior's Apprentice
"Being Vor is-is like wearing an invisible uniform you can never take off."
— Miles explaining to Mayhew why he should call him 'my lord'. Warrior's Apprentice
"Repeat after me. I, Bazil Jesek, do testify I am, am, am a forsworn military vassal of Gregor Vorbarra, but I take service anyway under-under-under this lunatic in front of me - make that, this Vor lunatic - as an armsman simple, and will hold him as my liege commander until my death or his releases me."
— Miles swearing in Baz Jesek, Warrior's Apprentice
They followed me home, Dad. Can I keep them?
— Miles on his new Dendarii Mercenaries. Warrior's Apprentice
A true Vor does not bury his face in his liegewoman's breast and cry - even if he is at a convenient height for it.
— Miles to himself as things get complicated, Warrior's Apprentice
He had not demanded the Sergeant's nocturnal company on the grounds that there were Things in his closet since he was four.
— Miles worried about 'Things' growing in his new bathroom. Warrior's Apprentice
"Other people get to hallucinate orgies and giant cicadas and things. What do I get? Relatives. I can see relatives when I'm conscious. It's not fair..."
— Miles thinking Ivan is another hallucination. Warrior's Apprentice
"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?'"
— Miles on Ivan's lack of tact. Warrior's Apprentice
"When the time came to leap in faith, whether you had your eyes open or closed or screamed all the way down or not made no practical difference."
— Miles on leaps of faith, Warrior's Apprentice
"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
Only on Barrayar would pulling a loaded needler start a stampede toward one.
— Miles on his compatriots' dubious sanity. Warrior's Apprentice
"Other than that, how was Kyril Island, Ensign Vorkosigan?"
— Count Vorkosigan being facetious. The Vor Game
"I could play Naismith again, sure. It's stopping playing Naismith that scares me."
— Miles most emphatically not joking. The Vor Game
"Gregor! Am I glad to see you. What the hell are you doing here?
— Miles upon encountering his emperor in a most unlikely place. The Vor Game
Maybe we ought to send him to the salt mines for two weeks every year, to keep him happy and content with his regular job.
— Miles noting Gregor seems to almost enjoy being slave labor. The Vor Game
"Accident? Maybe.... Your 'accidents,' I once noticed, have ways of entangling your enemies that are the green envy of mature and careful strategists."
Captain Tung on Miles as a strategist. The Vor Game
"A parole is a promise given between honorable enemies. Your honor I am willing to assume. But are you thus declaring yourself Our enemy?"
— Gregor in the role of emperor to the renegade General Metzov. The Vor Game
"I'm Vor, ma'am. In a sense, the Vor. Risk in service is the Vorish trade. I wouldn't assume my value was infinite, if I were you."
— Gregor still in emperor-mode, The Vor Game
Homicidal paranoids are as familiar as breakfast, I had one for a bodyguard for seventeen years.
— Miles finding Cavilo almost homey and routine. The Vor Game
"How many people are you, anyway?"
— Commander Cavilo asking Miles a very good question. The Vor Game
I may be small, but I screw up big because I'm standing on the shoulders of GIANTS.
— Miles unhappy with how things are going. The Vor Game
"Auson, you can be a real shithead sometimes, but dammit, you can fight when you have to. I've seen you. In the tight and the bad and the crazy, I'll take you at my back over any other captain in the fleet."
— Tung sincerely apologizing to Captain Auson. The Vor Game
"[Emperor Gregor] is safe, but in great danger."
— Miles being less than clear if perfectly accurate. The Vor Game
"- you sure are hard on your commanding officers."
— Elena Bothari-Jezak as Captain Ungari (the third superior officer that Miles has had thrown in the brig in that novel) is dragged away. The Vor Game
"...am I reading too much into all that innuendo, or did you in fact just connive to assassinate Gregor in one breath, offer to cuckold him in the next, accuse your father of homosexuality, suggest a patricidal plot against him, and league yourself with Cavilo... what are you going to do for an encore?"
— A very bemused Elena on Miles negotiations. The Vor Game
"His meds must be further off-dose than I thought."
— Gregor playing up to Miles' bluff. The Vor Game
Miles: "You realize, Gregor, you did this? Sabotaged the Cetagandan invasion singlehandedly?"
Gregor: "Oh, it took both hands."
— The Vor Game
"Did you think you were dealing with an amateur?"
Gregor explaining Cavilo's mistake to her. The Vor Game
"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
"The cream pie of justice flies one way."
— Miles again, on why it is really too late for Gregor to shove a torte up his nose. The Vor Game
"I admit, I didn't have a direct order to rescue Gregor, I just assumed you'd want it done. Sir."
— Miles daring to be ironic to his acerb superior. The Vor Game
"All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means. Chou En Lai, Twentieth Century, Earth"
— Miles repeating a famous - and applicable - quote, Cetaganda
"Try not to start a war single... mouthed, eh?"
— Miles to the famously tactless Ivan, Cetaganda
"If I knew how the haut women do it I'd bottle it and sell it. No, better - I think I'd keep it for myself."
— Madame Maz on the famous haut-lady allure. Cetaganda
Ooh, I adore competent women. Do you have a younger sister, milady Maz?
— Miles being impressed. Cetaganda
"- No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy." Not when the enemy is me.
— Miles indulging in a little justified egotism. Cetaganda
He'd always wanted to save the Empire. The Cetagandan just wasn't the empire he'd pictured, was all.
— Miles losing it, Cetaganda
A Degtiar empress named Lisbet/ Trapped a satrap lord neatly in his net/ Enticed into treason/ For all the wrong reasons' He'll soon have a crash with his kismet.
— Miles having an attack of limericks. Cetaganda
Stop it. These women are users, you know that. Oh, God, Let me be used...
— Miles on ghem ladies. Cetaganda
"I think you're panicking post-maturely. In fact if you were panicking any later it would be practically posthumously."
— Ivan on their increasingly dire situation. Cetaganda
"In my experience, milady, we can never get back to exactly where we started, no matter how hard we try."
— Miles surprising Rian. Cetaganda
"Agh! What did you think? That because he's taller, and, and cuter, he had to be running this show? It's the haut way, isn't it? You-you morons! I'm the brains of this outfit!"
— Miles rants. Cetaganda
"- egalitarians adjust to aristocracies just fine, as long as they get to be the aristocrats."
— Miles quoting his mother. Cetaganda
Body of Imperial Officer Found in Flesh-Czar's Dream Palace. Death From Exhaustion?
— Miles imagining the headlines back home if he dies in Ryoval's. Labyrinth
"Take off your clothes, and lie down with me as humans do. Men and women."
— Taura making a very blunt proposition. Labyrinth
Trapped in Ryoval's basement with a sex-starved teenage werewolf.
— Miles's thoughts on the subject. Labyrinth
"-it's not how much force you use. It's where you apply it."
— Miles giving Taura her first lesson in tactics. Labyrinth
"The little man is mine. You gave him to me yourself. He came back for me. Hurt him one little bit, and I'll tear your head off and then I'll drink your blood."
— Taura being very convincing. Labyrinth
"This is a paid political rescue."
— Miles explaining himself. The Borders of Infinity
"We're not something wriggling with too many legs that you found in your sleeping bag. The proper tone of voice is Mercenaries! - with a glad cry."
— Miles again on being displeased with Beatrice's initial response. The Borders of Infinity
"If I got assassinated now my father would kill me."
— Miles Vorkosigan explaining why dying just now would be really, really bad politically. Brothers In Arms
"So? Stun them all, God will recognize his own."
— Admiral Naismith's suggestion on how to deal with drunken Dendarii. Brothers In Arms
"Think of the London police not as your enemies, but as your dearest friends. They are, you know. Because until they get done with you, I can't start."
— Admiral Naismith to those same drunken Dendarii. Brothers In Arms
"Gods, I've fallen in love with a man who thinks he's an onion."
Elli Quinn on Admiral Naismith, Lieutenant Vorkosigan and Lord Vorkosigan. Brothers In Arms
"If you're acquiring a secret desire to be shot in the back, please let me know at lest twenty-six-point-seven hours in advance, so I can activate my retirement."
— Simon Illyan being 'acerb' to Aral Vorkosigan. Brothers In Arms
"But Miles - our mysterious and wealthy strangers want to hire Admiral Naismith to kidnap Lord Miles Vorkosigan from the Barrayaran embassy."
— Elli Quinn repeating an offer Miles cannot refuse. Brothers In Arms
Well, I always was my own worst enemy.
Miles Vorkosigan at first sight of his clone twin. Brothers In Arms
"I don't know. Which me were you expecting?"
— Miles to his new cellmate Duv Galeni. Brothers In Arms
"For one thing, my father has never abandoned me in the presence of an enemy."
— Miles explaining his loyalty to Aral to Ser Galen. Brothers In Arms
Mark to Ser Galen: "No. I'm not talking much."
Miles on fast-penta: "That's out of character."
— Brothers In Arms
"Miles, what have you done with your baby brother?!"
— What Miles imagines his mother will say about his clone. Brothers In Arms
"Nobody gets to chose their relatives anyway, clone or no. I mean, given a choice, would you pick Ivan Vorpatril for your cousin?"
— Miles on family. Brothers In Arms
"I'm not panicking, I'm watching you panic. It's more entertaining."
Elli Quinn remaining calm in the usual crisis. Brothers in Arms
"No, no, never send interim reports. Only final ones. Interim reports tend to elicit orders. Which you must then either obey, or spend valuable time and energy evading, which could be using to solve the problem."
— Miles Vorkosigan's command philosophy. Brothers in Arms
"Some people have an evil twin. I am not so lucky. What I have is an idiot twin."
— Admiral Naismith about Mark Vorkosigan, Mirror Dance
"Wait, I haven't--"
— Miles Vorkosigan, Mirror Dance
Lord Mark: "I haven't asked for anything."
Emperor Gregor: "I know. Honorable, but stupid. You may fit right in here yet."
— Mirror Dance
"He had an aura... I don't know how to describe it. Except... I could picture large thugs in dark alleyways scrambling to get out of his way."
— Rowan Durona on a thoroughly pissed Lord Mark Vorkorsigan, Mirror Dance
"Excuse me. I've been dead, lately, and my brain isn't working too well."
— Miles, Mirror Dance
"Or maybe he's going to leave us in here together until I kill you."
— Rowan Durona, trapped in a guest suite with a hyperactive (no other kind) Miles, Mirror Dance
"[Illyan] does acerb better than almost anyone I know."
— Miles Vorkosigan on his boss, Mirror Dance
Taura: "Was it love at first sight, for you?"
Miles: "Mm... no, truthfully. It was more like terror at first sight. Falling in love took, oh, an hour or so."
"Oh, we can find you wherever you are."
— ImpSec humor at its best(?), Memory
"It's said that [Imperial Auditors] used to be able to ride the countryside with bags of gold hanging off their saddles and almost no guards, and the bandits would secretly ride point to clear their paths,"
— Miles Vorkosigan on Imperial Auditors in the Time of Isolation, Memory
"The point is, you haven't let the lack of half-marks stop you. Or the rules. Or respect for reality, as far as I can tell."
— Ivan Vorpatril on Miles to Miles, Memory
"It's part of my job to keep him alive, Martin. You wouldn't embarrass me, would you?"
— Miles' ImpSec guard to his kid brother just hired on as Miles' driver, Memory
"[Gregor] has these historically well-founded genetic paranoias about - well - paranoia."
— Miles Vorkosigan on Emperor Gregor's resistance to a Vor bride, Memory
"I never saw you face a wall that, if you couldn't go over it, you'd not try to find some way around, through, or under, or blow it up with sapper's charges. Or just bang your head against it till it fell down."
— Ivan Vorpatril talking about his favorite cousin again, Memory
I'm tired of playing wall.
— Miles Vorkosigan's moment of epiphany, Memory
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."
"The thought of all that incoming maternal concern makes me want to duck and run."
— Miles Vorkosigan on his mother's imminent arrival, Memory
"Money, power, sex... and elephants."
— Simon Illyan on the basic human drives. Memory
Simon: "Do you suppose all the fish in your lake have been stolen?"
Miles: "They'd have to catch 'em first."
"Some fellows you have to hit with a brick to get their attention. Some you have to hit with a big brick."
Martya Koudelka on clueless males. Memory
"Impulse does work as slowly as that sometimes. Particularly when you're having a really bad idea." I should know.
— Miles Vorkosigan, Memory
"Anything done twice on Barrayar is tradition."
— Simon Illyan, Memory
So does this mean seven thousand years bad luck?
— Lord Auditor Vorkosigan referring to the broken solar mirror, ''Komarr'
"I once slept for six weeks on bare dirt. With ten thousand extremely grubby Marilacans, many of whom snored."
— Miles assuring his hostess, Ekaterin Vorsoisson, that he will be happy to sleep in her workroom, Komarr
"All the geniuses I ever met were so just part of the time. To qualify, you only have to be great once, you know. Once when it matters."
— Lord Auditor Vorthys on genius and Miles, Komarr
" - the whole Barrayaran Vor system runs on nepotism. It's not a vice for us, it's a lifestyle."
— Miles on the way Barrayarans do things. Komarr
"Shopping? That's an offer seldom made to the son of my mother...."
— Miles responding to Ekaterin's invitation. Komarr
"We seduced him to the service of the Imperium. We've agreed it was the shiny boots that turned the trick."
— Miles on Duv Galeni, Komarr
Ekaterin: "Oh. Drat."
Miles: "Madame Vorsoisson, has it ever occurred to you that you may be just a touch oversocialized?"
— Exchange while waist deep and deeper in water in Komarr
Ask your soldier's heart, woman. Is deserting the night before the battle any better than deserting in the heat?
— Ekaterin meditating on leaving her husband, Komarr
Thank God you're safe and I'm going to strangle you with my bare hands.
— A surprisingly common reaction to Miles Vorkosigan, Komarr
When I go down into the ground at last, as God is my judge, I pray my best-beloved may have better to say of me than, 'He didn't hit me.'
— Miles on the late Tien Vorsoisson, Komarr
[Miles'] eloquence had inspired his soldiers to face death in the past, or so he dimly recalled. Now let's try something really hard.
— Like talking a scared nine-year-old into going to school. Of course Miles succeeds. Komarr
"We have advanced to new and surprising levels of bafflement."
— Miles's case is not going well, Komarr
Judging from the common names, the lost Barrayaran colonists had not loved their new xenobotany: damnweed, henbloat, goatbane....
— Miles reflecting on Ekaterin's Barrayaran garden, Komarr
Ekaterin "Were the Vor lords afraid of their wives getting the drop on them?"
The Professora: "Remembering my grandmother, it's possible."
— A discussion on Vorfemme knives. Komarr
"My, the vacuum is hard out today..."
— Ekaterin's first idea for a conversational gambit, quickly discarded, Komarr
"I know girls who pine for it. They like to play dress up and pretend being Vor ladies of old, rescued from menace by romantic Vor youths. For some reason they never play dying in childbirth or vomiting your guts up from the red dysentery or weaving until you go blind and crippled from arthritis and dye poisoning or infanticide. Well, they do die romantically of disease sometimes. But somehow it's always an illness that makes you interestingly pale and everyone sorry, and doesn't involve losing bowel control."
— Ekaterin deconstructs the heck out of some tropes in Komarr
Someday, Miles, I hope you live to have a dozen subordinates just like you.
— Simon Illyan formally curses his most impossible subordinate. Komarr
"The devil's bargain part about being Vor, which a lot of people including some Vor overlook, is that our lives are made for sacrifice."
— Miles explaining why holding Ekaterin and the Professora hostage won't work, Komarr
Foscol: That was longer ago.
Professora Vorthys: Ah, I see. So the difference between a criminal and a hero is the order in which their vile crimes are committed. And justice comes with a sell-by date. In that case, you'd better hurry. You wouldn't want your heroism to spoil.
The Professora demonstrates how it does not pay to rationalize in front of a historian. Komarr
Foscol: "We are not terrorists."
Miles: "No? You've succeeded in terrifying me."
The man could charm snakes from their holes, nine-year-olds from locked bathrooms, and Komarran terrorists from their bunkers.
— Ekaterin Vorsoisson's opinion of Miles. Komarr
"Lord Vorkosigan. Can I take a number and get in line?"
— Ekaterin after Miles lists his former romantic interests.
In between inspiring you to strangle him with your bare hands, he could make you proud enough to cry.
—Ivan Vorpatril about Miles, A Civil Campaign
"One of the many fascinating side effects of testosterone I am discovering, along with the amazing mood-swings."
— Lord Dono on the effects of his sex change, A Civil Campaign
Worse, Illyan might say something... dry.
— Miles deciding not to wear his Dendarii Mercenary admiral uniform to his dinner party, A Civil Campaign
"It wasn't my fault, it's not my job, you can't make me."
— Lord Ivan Vorpatril's mantra, A Civil Campaign
"- it's like being being mugged in a dark alley by a goddess. You're not the same man after."
— Miles Vorkosigan describing sex with Taura to Roic, Winterfair Gifts
"I know replicator gestation is better, more responsible in every way. It's not as if they are being shortchanged."
— Lady Ekaterin Vorkosigan protesting too much, Diplomatic Immunity
"Remarkable. I do believe, Lord Auditor Vorkosigan, that is the first time I've ever seen a fast-penta interrogation conducted without the fast-penta."
— Adjudicator Leutwyn on Miles' almost hypnotic interrogation technique, Diplomatic Immunity
"I wouldn't dare die. There's this fierce Vor lady who threatened she'd kill me if I did."
— Miles Vorkosigan referring to his wife, Diplomatic Immunity
"Lady Vorkosigan did seem a title to conjure with."
— Lady Ekaterin Vorkosigan on how she managed to make two empires listen up, Diplomatic Immunity
"- you can't mistake him, top of his head would be about level with your shoulder, carries a cane, talks a blue streak -"
— Roic describing his boss, Cryoburn
"The man has carried me since I was five years old. It's my turn."
— Emperor Gregor Vorbarra, Cryoburn
"Unhand Lady Vorpatril!"
— Ivan channeling his cousin Count Falco. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
"It's rumored that all of House Ryoval was taken down by a single ImpSec agent, after the old baron pissed Barrayar off somehow."
— Tej explaining to Rish why they have to be careful of ImpSec. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
Tej: "Has Morozov much special training in interrogation?"
Desplains: "Actually he trains interrogators."
— Tej learning she is out of her league.
"The Vorkosigan family motto might as well be, Anything worth achieving is worth overachieving".
— Ivan Vorpatril on his family. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
Gregor, he’d said. As if it might be just any Gregor off the street, and not, say, the absolute ruler of three worlds, as far above a Great House baron as a baron was above a gutter grubber.
— Tej, fuming about how Ivan had led her astray concerning his status on Barrayar. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
"So Byerly, who came to warn us, and the Immigration officers, and those Dome cops who were trying to arrest Ivan Xav for kidnapping me, which he didn't, all arrived at once before anyone had drunk any coffee."
— Tej, Lady Vorpatril describing her wedding. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
Tej (to Ivan): "I don't suppose you could sleep with Byerly...."
Rish: "Only if I can watch."
— Speculating on possible partners in adultery. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance.
"Is everything horrible made not so?"
— Rish upon discovering that the parents she and Tej thought dead are alive.
"What the hell, Simon?"
— A question more people should have asked, sooner. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance.
Welcome to Chez Vorpatril. Please take a seat, I will be your spine for this evening...
— Ivan annoyed with an intimidated Byerly. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance.
"Where are my children, you worthless sack of greed?"'
— The elegant, half-haut Baronne revealing her inner Mama Bear. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance.
"Could you people stop trying to come up with novel ways to kill me for just one hour?"
— A justifiably fed up Ivan. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
"Guy, has ImpSec HQ always been sort of... tilted up on one side?"
— The Gregor and the answer is 'no'. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
"Oh my, that boy is so grounded!"
Tej on her cryogenically frozen elder brother who turns out to have been The Mole. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
I'm afraid even ImpSec has no explanation for women's taste in men
Barrayaran agent on the ancestry of House Cordonah in Captain Vorpatril's Alliance