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This article is about the novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. For the fictional planet, see Barrayar (fictional planet).
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
Awards Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1992)
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]

Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan are expecting their first child. When the crafty old Emperor Ezar Vorbarra dies, Aral reluctantly takes over as regent for Ezar's grandson Gregor. 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 their unborn son. In a desperate attempt to save the fetus, Cordelia has it transferred to a uterine replicator — an artificial womb — to undergo experimental treatment that may partially combat the otherwise-fatal bone damage. Among Barrayarans, weakness and physical handicaps are culturally spurned; babies with birth defects are routinely euthanized. Aral's father, Count Piotr Vorkosigan, seeks to destroy the fetus rather than have the Vorkosigan name and title passed on to a "deformed mutant." A furious Cordelia keeps him at bay.

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 bodyguard Bothari hide in the hills amongst the rural population, while Aral and his father organize the resistance.

After Cordelia rejoins Aral, they learn that the replicator containing their child, whom they have named 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 enlists Bothari, her personal bodyguard Droushnakovi, and one of Aral's officers, Koudelka, to help her retrieve the replicator and hopefully rescue Gregor's mother, Princess Kareen. Once in the palace, Cordelia and her party are caught. They overpower their captors, but Kareen is killed by Vordarian's bodyguards. Bothari beheads Vordarian at Cordelis's request, and they escape with the replicator. Without its leader, the coup falls apart. Miles is born, fragile and deformed.

Five years later, Miles is brittle-boned but thriving, and more active and rambunctious than a normal child his age. He takes an interest in Piotr's horses, which seems to open a crack in Piotr's beliefs.


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. 

External links[edit]