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This article is about the book. For other uses, see Barrayar (disambiguation).
Author Lois McMaster Bujold
Cover artist Stephen Hickman
Country United States
Language English
Series Vorkosigan Saga
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Baen Books
Publication date
Pages 386
ISBN 978-0-671-72083-4
Preceded by The Vor Game
Followed by Mirror Dance

Barrayar is a science fiction novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. It was first published as four installments in Analog in July–October 1991,[1] and then published in book form by Baen Books in October 1991.[2] Barrayar won both the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1992.[3] It is a part of the Vorkosigan Saga, and is the seventh full-length novel of the series, in publication order. Barrayar is a direct sequel to Bujold's first novel Shards of Honor (1986), and these are paired in the 1996 omnibus Cordelia's Honor.[4]

Plot summary[edit]

As Barrayar begins, Aral and Cordelia Vorkosigan are expecting their first child. When the crafty old emperor dies, Aral takes over as regent. A plot to assassinate Aral and Cordelia with poison gas fails, but the antidote, while effective, is also a powerful teratogen that poses a grave threat to the bone development of his unborn son. In a desperate attempt to save the fetus, Cordelia has it transferred to a uterine replicator—an artificial womb—to undergo an experimental recalcification treatment that may partially combat the otherwise-fatal bone damage.

When Count Vidal Vordarian attempts a coup, five-year-old Emperor Gregor is rescued by his loyal security chief, Captain Negri, and reunited with the Vorkosigans. Cordelia, Gregor, and various retainers escape into the hills and hide amongst the rural population while Aral and his father organize the resistance.

After Cordelia rejoins Aral, they learn that the replicator containing Miles has been captured. Without proper maintenance, the fetus will succumb within six days, but Aral refuses to attempt a rescue when there are far greater concerns. However, Cordelia convinces her personal bodyguard, Ludmilla Droushnakovi, and one of Aral's officers, Clement Koudelka, to help her rescue Gregor's mother, Princess Kareen, and the replicator containing Miles. Once in the palace, Cordelia and her party are caught. They overpower their captors, but Princess Kareen is killed by Vordarian's bodyguards. They execute Vordarian and escape with the replicator, and the coup falls apart without its leader. Cordelia is put in charge of Prince Gregor's early education, with far-reaching consequences for Barrayar.

Because of his exposure to the teratogen, Miles Naismith Vorkosigan is born with extremely fragile bones that break easily, and his growth is stunted. On Barrayar, babies with birth defects are common, due to the hostile environment and to lingering radiation from the war between Barrayar and Cetaganda. With life difficult and resources limited, such babies were traditionally killed, though this practice is illegal by the time of Miles' birth. Still, so-called "muties" are reviled and shunned, and Miles, though genetically sound, must deal with prejudice throughout his life, starting with his own grandfather, Piotr.


Barrayar was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1991.[5] It won both the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1992.[3]


  1. ^ "Analog Science Fiction and Fact, October 1991". Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved February 12, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "1992 Award Winners & Nominees". 1992. Retrieved July 11, 2009. 
  3. ^ Walton, Jo (March 31, 2009). "Weeping for her enemies: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Shards of Honor". Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
  4. ^ "1991 Award Winners & Nominees". 1991. Retrieved July 7, 2009. 

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