Of Things Barrayaran

This thread is intended to begin discussion of matters related to the works of Lois McMaster Bujold, and particularly the Vorkosigan series that, with two outlier books (Falling Free and Ethan of Athos), constitutes the majority of her work.

I find that the combination of interesting adventure-suspense fiction with in-depth psychological exploration of individuals makes for an extremely fascinating story – and one that can be reread for new insight regularly.

I’m hoping that some interesting discussion of both the story line and the quality of the books can be done here.

I’m a big fan of the series. I think Lois Bujold is one of the finest authors writing SF these days. And I’d love to discuss the books. So I post partly to bookmark this thread.

So that I’m not simply pulling up a lawnchair…

I’m planning a re-read in the near future of the whole series, mostly so that I can re-read A Civil Campaign, which has some of my favorite moments in the whole series. I found some of the books to be downers – Memory in particular springs to mind. It seemed for a book or two that Lois wasn’t entirely sure how to have Miles grow up, and that he needed to have a better context for the kind of stories she wanted to write than gallivanting across the stars with his private mercenary force.

I really like the focus on Barrayar, and the ability it gives her to tell stories that are based in that culture and around a set of characters. Saying more runs the risk of spoilers, though. So I shall be silent… other than to say that I really like like Emperor Gregor as a character, and hope we see more of him in future books.

I have enjoyed the entire series, however my favorites still remain “Shards of Honor” and “The Vor Game”. Miles is her major character but I still enjoy Cordelia Naismith, the woman who pays too much for WinterFair presents, best.

I agree with Brainiac4 that I would like to see more of Gregor. I especially would like to see how he adjusts to marriage and how he, with the rest of Barrayaran, deals with his depression. So far, in “Diplomatic Immunity” and “A Civil Campaign” he has not been on stage much, so to speak.

I have not read any spoilers so this is just speculation, but Miles having to deal with his children not being as smart as he is would, to me, be an interesting issue to explore.

Big fan of the books. One of the few authors I can read and re-read without losing any of the enjoyment. Also, one of the few authors whose books I can’t help but read in a single sitting.

Two things I’d like to see happen in future books: one is for Miles to finally have the chance to show his mastery of starship command under his own name. It’d probably require another Cetagandan invasion to set it up properly, though.

The other thing I think would be interesting, would be for Miles, in his role as Imperial Auditor, to get wind that Prince Serg might have been assassinated all those years back, and not simply died in honorable combat as everyone assumes. Of course, being Miles, he won’t be able to let it go until he ends up compromising his father in some potentially lethal manner, and then has to run around trying to fix it before his dad swings.

<darth vader> come and join the bujold list…</darth vader>
Lois-Bujold mailing list

full of nice people who like the vorkosiverse=)

and for those in new england, she is going to be at world con, and there will be a listee get together on saturday afternoon [i think, i cant go=( so I am only peripherally aware of the schedule]

My favorite characters are Cordelia, and Ekaterinne. I prefer A Civil Campaign and Komarr, with the 2pack of ‘Cordelia’s Honor’ - Shards of Honor and Barrayar in one volume as a close tie.

I recently re-read everything from Brothers in Arms to “Winterfair Gifts,” with a brief detour to brush up on Falling Free before Diplomatic Immunity. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Memory remains my absolute favorite, though I am completely charmed by A Civil Campaign.

I want to see more of everybody! Ivan, and the Koudelkas, and Simon Illyan, and everybody.

I’ve only read a couple of the Miles books (I forget which), but I really liked Ethan of Athos. Elli Quinn is the best character.

I’ve been reading Bujold since Warrior’s Apprentice was published. I love Miles and I’m glad to see he’s been allowed to grow up. Memory was a seminal book for me. Miles is stripped of the things he holds dear and still makes the hard decisions. I like to see him protecting Simon (as an aside - my doberman that died this week was named Simon, after Simon Illyan) as a liege lord.

It’s interesting that Gregor ended up with a off-world bride, while Miles, the spacefarer, after all his conquests, marries a true Vor woman. I want to see more from Ivan - I think he really has untapped potential. There’s so much more I want to see.

Does anyone have anything to say about her most recent series? I liked The Curse of Chalion, but was disappointed in Paladin of Souls.


Brief note: Can’t wait for GURPS Barrayr. B… eh, brain no worky this early in the morning.

Should be in three-four months, fourth edition GURPS. Lovely reference book.

Or for an even more extreme example I’ve considered; what if Aral Vorkosigan really was responsible for the Solstice Massacre? We’ve been told very little about the background of the incident. We know Aral can be ruthless and was much more prone to violence in his early years. And he seems strangely obsessed with proclaiming his innocence over the event, even more so than the supposed history would warrent.

Ivan, of course, started out as the foil for Miles – he was everything that Miles was not – including dense. But Cetaganda and especially A Civil Campaign developed his character significantly more – Ivan is in many ways a leading character in the latter book.

With a wealth of interesting characters with in-depth personalities, Lois seems to have one or two (other than Miles) whom she focuses on in each book, using the others, in character, as “background” until she’s ready to work with them.

It’s also interesting to see the little connections linking each story to the others. Did anybody besides me happen to catch the identity of the jumpship pilot whom Cordelia maneuvered into assisting her in escaping Beta Colony towards the end of Shards of Honor? (Hint: he’s a major supporting character in *The Warrior’s Apprentice.) And the fact that most of Diplomatic Immunity takes place on Graf Station, which includes the Minchenko Auditorium – both being named for important characters in Falling Free, set 200 years earlier.

Further interweaving takes place here and there – the Haut Pel and Gen. Dag Benin play roles in several different stories, for example.

And I wonder what’s lying in wait in terms of loose ends, that Lois intends to weave back into the tapestry in future books? What, for example, are Mark and Kareen up to? What happened to that psychopathic dwarf woman commander of mercenaries after The Vor Game? What are Elli Quinn and the Dendarii (band name if I ever saw one! :)) up to these days? And what role are Count Dono Vorrutyer and the Imperial Auditors other than Miles going to play in future stories?

Odds are pretty strong that Lois has all this stuff figured out – and is keeping it close to her bosom until the time is right to reveal it.

There’s just one thing I wanna know. When’s the next one coming out?

I personally love Miles and Ivan interacting with each other. I go into the giggles everytime I read one of her books.

3d in the Chalion series went to the publisher, Lois is now doing some R&R and hitting Worldcon. She will start working on more book-fu shortly=)

Really, join the list, she inhabits it and we have fun there=) All your questions can be answered as all information is known to the list members [or so it seems=)]

I recently found in a used bookstore a book entitled Test of Honor which consisted of Shards of Honor and The Warrior’s Apprentice, with a ten-page story between then called Aftermath. Somehow in all my readings I had never read Shards of Honor; it was interesting reading it now, knowing the future of so many of the characters.

When I was still travelling to SF cons selling books I often had the pleasure of chatting with Lois. In fact, the first time we met was at a small con in Indiana where she was Guest of Honor. We were the only bookdealer there; and of course had made a point of having copies of all five or six of her books that were out at that time. Shards of Honor was out of print, but she had brought copies which we bought from her. When I confessed to her that I had not yet read any of her books, she laughed, proceeded to recommend which I should read first and made sure I knew which ones were not part of the Barrayaran universe. A very pleasant lady.

WRT this … there’s a bit in one of the later books - either Civil Campaign or Diplomatic Immunity, can’t remember which and don’t have them handy to check right now - where Aral and Miles are having a conversation which touches on some assassination-type mission Miles was involved in. Aral says something like “I asked Simon not to use you for assassinations”, to which Miles replies that it wasn’t quite like that … I can’t remember any of the earlier stories involving anything close to an ImpSec-ordered assassination plot, so, I wondered, was this Bujold setting up a pointer to some future novel that fills in a gap in Miles’s ImpSec career? Just wondering.

Just chiming in to say that I could read the letter Miles writes to Ekaterina in A Civil Campaign a hundred times and never tire of it.


Lois has said that she really doesnt plan on going back and filling in gaps, though many people on list want her to do a bit more with Ivan. We are very careful NOT to suggest plotlines because she has said many times that she will not use the suggestions…too many people nowdays want to sue over plagerism issues and she won’t risk it…

I’ve read some number of Vorkosigan series, but would like to go back and re-read them. Is there a preferred order? Should I go by publish date, or is the in-story chronology different?

That will be a must-buy for me.

I think internal order works fairly well myself. Here’s a slightly spoilerish list with details on each. OTOH, you can skip Falling Free and Ethan of Athos, and leave Shards of Honor and Barrayar until later easily enough. The Borders of Infinity stories can probably be left as well, but you’ll feel the gaps a little.
There are various omnibuses out, which I think cover most of the main series, and it’s probably more economical to get them that way.

Falling Free (set in the same universe, but centuries before the rest and fairly stand-alone)
Shards of Honor (This and the next are really about Cordelia, Miles’ mother)
The Warrior’s Apprentice
The Mountains of Mourning (in Borders of Infinity)
The Vor Game
Ethan of Athos (one of the main characters is a major character in several of the other books, but it can be read quite seperately)
Labyrinth (in Borders of Infinity)
Borders of Infinity (in Borders of Infinity, obviously)
Brothers in Arms
The kind of setting story for Borders of Infinity (yeah it’s a fairly brief excuse for flashbacks, but IIRC it’s not included in the big omnibuses)
Mirror Dance
A Civil Campaign
Winterfair Gifts (AFAIK it’s only available as part of a collection of short stories called Irresistable Forces)
Diplomatic Immunity
Right now she’s certainly my second favourite SF author, as someone who can do both characters and setting well, and combine humour and drama without jarring. I’m enough of a fan that I don’t feel robbed for buying a book of romance stories (which were otherwise pretty bland for me) for one short story of hers.

And finally a random line which isn’t in the series (but should be), and I occasionally use as a sig:
“My wife went to Vorbarr Sultana and all I got was this bloody shopping bag.”

you know you can buy Sieglings shopping bags online…