Barrayaran Imperial Auditor

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Imperial Auditor is a fictional position in the government of Barrayar in Lois McMaster Bujold's sci-fi series the Vorkosigan Saga; alternatively referred to as 'The Emperor's Voice'.

What is an Auditor?[edit]

On Barrayar, there exist up to eight permanent Auditors and the Ninth Temporary Auditor. These auditors are appointed by the Emperor and speak with his Voice. Voice is a Barrayaran legal concept of proxy which bestows the hierarchical authority of one person upon another of otherwise lesser rank. This bestowed authority is plenipotentiary, but applies only where the person of lesser rank is carrying out his formal duties. Imperial Auditors hold their appointments till death, retirement, impeachment, or until the Emperor rescinds the appointment. Usually, they serve for life.

Imperial Auditors were originally the Emperor's financial auditors: They made sure that the Counts were correctly paying the Emperor his taxes. Because they spoke with the Emperor's Voice, they soon became feared. It is said that bandits would ride point for an Auditor and make sure that no one disturbed him on his way. On Barrayar, the appearance of an Auditor is an immediate concern, and Barrayarans usually spend the few minutes between realizing an auditor is en route and the time he gets there trying to figure out what he had done to be Audited.

On modern Barrayar, Imperial Auditors serve more as Special Investigators. They usually try to solve problems that have escaped conventional problem solving strategies.

From Diplomatic Immunity:

Bel: "this Emperor's Voice thing sounded like something out of a fairy tale, to me. Until I got to the fine print. Then it sounded like something out of a really gruesome fairy tale."
Miles: "Oh, did you look up my job description?"
Bel: "Yeah ... Imperial Auditor's a pretty stunning promotion — whoever handed you that much unsupervised power on a platter has to be almost as much of a lunatic as you are."

Real World Basis/Inspiration[edit]

As far as can be discerned there is no real world equivalent to an Auditor as a permanent office. Their appointment by the chief executive, combined with the lifelong appointment and the fact that there are eight or nine of them, makes Auditors look like American Supreme Court Justices, but their jobs are in no way related. In some of their duties, they are analogous to special prosecutors, in others to the chairmen of special commissions such as the Challenger Disaster special commission, and in some to conventional financial auditors, but with far more legal clout (as befits their supposed origin as the Auditors of the various Counts during the Years of Isolation). In Diplomatic Immunity, Miles acts as the effective military commander of the Barrayarian forces in Quaddiespace during his investigation, as evidenced by this quote: Miles: "As the Emperor is commander-in-chief of the Barrayaran military, his Voice is automatically the ranking officer of any Barrayaran force in his vicinity, yes. If the emergency so demands it." A similar execution of military power in place of another leader was used in the Roman Republic's Promagistrates.

Current Imperial Auditors (as of Diplomatic Immunity)[edit]

  • Lord Auditor Miles Vorkosigan:
    • Specialty: Politics and Imperial Security, as well as High Vor (aristocratic) social affairs.
    • By far the youngest Auditor ever appointed in peacetime at 30.
    • Most Progressive and liberal Auditor
      • "You're half-Betan Miles, you're just the man for the job."
  • Lord Auditor Professor Dr. Georg Vorthys:
    • Specialty: Engineering Failure Analysis.
    • Possibly based in part on Bujold's father, Professor of Welding Engineering [1] Robert Charles McMaster
    • Vorkosigan's uncle-in-law.
    • Uncle of Ekaterin Vorsoisson.
  • Lord Auditor Vorhovis:
    • Specialty: Galactic Affairs, Ambassadorial Duties
    • the 2nd youngest Auditor after Miles Vorkosigan (in his early 60's)
    • 2nd Most Progressive of the Auditors aside from Vorkosigan as well.
  • Lord Auditor Vorgustafson:
    • Specialty: Industry and Economics.
    • Former industrialist and current philanthropist.
  • Lord Auditor Admiral Vorkalloner:
    • Specialty: Military Affairs.
  • Lord Auditor Vorlaisner
    • Specialty:???
  • Lord Auditor Vorparidjis:
    • Specialty: None.
    • The eldest Auditor, an unofficial Auditor Emeritus and figurehead, who is never called upon to do actual Auditor work or even attend meetings, the most Conservative of the Auditors
  • Lord Auditor Admiral Valentine:
    • Specialty: Military Affairs.
    • Currently semi-retired, too frail to perform duties.

Former Auditors[edit]

  • Lord Auditor General Vorsmythe (deceased)

Miles Vorkosigan's memorable Audits include[edit]

  • The investigation of the "assassination" of Chief of Imperial Security Simon Illyan - at the time, Vorkosigan held the temporary Ninth Auditor post. --> Occurs in the novel Memory
  • The investigation of the crash of a space freighter into the Komarran Soletta --> Occurs in the novel Komarr

Technically the freighter/soletta crash investigation was assigned to Vorthys, as it appeared to be an engineering disaster; Miles came along to observe, and only began to exert Auditorial authority once he recognized the major political and tactical issues at hand.