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AuthorLois McMaster Bujold
Audio read byGrover Gardner
Cover artistStephen Hickman
CountryUnited States
SeriesVorkosigan Saga
GenreScience fiction
PublisherBaen Books
Publication date
AwardsLocus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1992)
Preceded byThe Vor Game 
Followed byMirror 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 the two are paired in the 1996 omnibus Cordelia's Honor.[4]

Plot summary[edit]

Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan are expecting their first child. Before crafty old Emperor Ezar Vorbarra died, he maneuvered a very reluctant Aral into agreeing to serve as regent for Ezar's young grandson Gregor. A plot to assassinate the Vorkosigans 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. Barrayar, due to its harsh environment, has fostered a deep loathing for mutations, and babies with even minor birth defects are routinely euthanized. Aral's father, Count Piotr Vorkosigan, seeks to abort 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 Gregor is rescued by his loyal security chief, Captain Negri, and reunited with the Vorkosigans. Cordelia, Gregor and bodyguard Konstantin Bothari hide from Vordarian's men in the hills, 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's personal bodyguard, Ludmilla Droushnakovi, was previously stationed at the palace and knows several top-secret exit routes which can be used to slip inside undetected. Cordelia, Droushnakovi and Bothari set out to rescue Miles and hopefully Gregor's mother, Princess Kareen. When Clement Koudelka, one of Aral's officers, finds out, they kidnap him. Once in the palace, Cordelia and her party are caught. They manage to overpower their captors, but not before Kareen is killed. Bothari beheads Vordarian at Cordelia's order, and they escape with the replicator. Without its leader, the coup falls apart.

Miles is born, fragile and deformed. Five years later, he has very brittle bones, but is very active, rambunctious and intelligent, capturing even Piotr's affection.


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

The New York Review of Science Fiction (October 1998, number 122) summarizes Barrayar as:

open(ing) the later stage of Bujold's oeuvre, most obviously because of its quantum jump in power, complexity and originality, such as the handling of Bothari, and its excursions into women's territory previously untravelled in SF, but also because it initiates a kind of second, deeper pass over the landscape of the earlier books.[6]


  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.
  5. ^ Loud Achievements: Lois McMaster Bujold's Science Fiction

External links[edit]