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"Richars Vorrutyer sat right there and informed me that Lady Alys held no vote in Council. The fact that she has spent more years in the Vorbarr Sultana political scene than all of us here put together seemed to escape him."
―Miles Naismith Vorkosigan[src]

Alys Vorpatril (vohr-PAA-trihl), often styled Lady Alys Vorpatril, Lady Vorpatril, or merely Lady Alys, was the wife of Padma Xav Vorpatril and the mother of Ivan Vorpatril. She was Emperor Gregor Vorbarra's senior hostess before his marriage to Laisa Toscane, and handled all matters of social protocol for him. 


"Lady Alys Vorpatril was widely acknowledged as the premier social arbiter of Vorbarr Sultana, not least because of her frequent duties at the Imperial Residence as official welcomer for wifeless, motherless, sisterless Emperor Gregor."
―Lady Alys's reputation[src]

Alys was raised in a Barrayaran Vor family, and had two sisters. She married Padma Xav Vorpatril, who while not a Count's heir bore the title of Lord Vorpatril, due to his royal blood. While pregnant with her first child, Alys befriended Lady Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan, and helped her adjust to Vor society. Her husband was the cousin of Lady Vorkosigan's husband Aral Vorkosigan through their mothers, who were daughters of Prince Xav Vorbarra.[1]

Due to this descent, Lord Vorpatril and his unborn son became targets of Imperial pretender Vidal Vordarian during Vordarian's Pretendership. Unable to escape Vorbarr Sultana to friendly territory, they were forced to hide out. Unfortunately, they were discovered by forces loyal to Vordarian. While only Padma Vorpatril and his son were on the list of assassination targets, Alys was still pregnant at the time, so they decided to kill her as well.[2]

She was rescued by Lady Vorkosigan, Ludmilla Droushnakovi, Armsman Bothari, and Lieutenant Koudelka and successfully delivered of her infant son, though her husband perished. With the aid of Koudelka, Alys and her son Ivan Vorpatril escaped from Vorbarr Sultana to Tanery Base Shuttleport.[3]

"I shouldn’t think you would be in such a tearing hurry to become the Dowager Lady Vorpatril."
"My dear and only child, how did you come by that misapprehension?
―Ivan and Alys[src]

After her husband's death, Alys occupied herself in planning her son's life out in every detail. She wore widow's mourning garb throughout Ivan's childhood[4], and did not remarry, although she at times asked Aral Vorkosigan to act in place of his father. As she planned, he entered the Imperial Service Academy and became an officer, although he passively resisted her constant attempts to marry him off.[5]

Alys eventually took on the role of official hostess for Emperor Gregor Vorbarra, who lacked other female relatives for the task. In that capacity she ran dinner parties, approved guest lists, and supervised the courtship of Emperor Gregor and Laisa Toscane. Lady Alys was the baba to Laisa's Komarran parents, acting as Gregor's emissary to formally request their permission for the marriage.[6]

In her role as part of Emperor Gregor's support staff, she interacted frequently with Simon Illyan, the Chief of Imperial Security. She served as a blind drop for Byerly Vorrutyer, a high level ImpSec covert operative, and was a keen observer of the Vorbarr Sultana social scene herself.[7] After Illyan's memory chip broke down, Lady Alys insisted on seeing him and sat by his bedside. During his recuperation, the two of them became lovers, scandalizing her son Ivan.[8]

After Alys Vorpatil took charge of all the arrangements for the Imperial betrothal and wedding, her offices in the Imperial Residence expanded from three rooms to half a wing and she was assigned her son Ivan as aide-de-camp. She discreetly involved herself in the political fight over the Vorbretten and Vorrutyer countships, providing quiet assistance to Dono Vorrutyer and René Vorbretten.[9] At the later wedding of Miles Naismith Vorkosigan and Ekaterin Vorsoisson, Alys was the Coach during the midwinter ceremony, and assisted Vorkosigan's friend Taura with her outfit.[10]

Personality and traits[]

"I gather that Lady Alys has always been much more anxious to protect him from risk. Her only child, you see. Though she is a formidable woman. Had anything untoward ever happened to Gregor, I am sure that—after first seeing those responsible properly hanged with all due ceremony—she would undoubtedly have been drawn into guiding her son in his new duties."
―Morozov, on how Alys would handle Ivan becoming Emperor of Barrayar[src]

Lady Alys was a sophisticated, stylish woman, with long dark hair and large attractive eyes. She was noted for her good manners and impeccable taste, as well as her organizational abilities. She provided sartorial advice to several women, including custom-designing the stunning wedding gown of Ludmilla Droushnakovi, and serving unofficially as the newlywed Lady Cordelia Vorkosigan's stylist. At Miles Vorkosigan and Ekaterin Vorsoisson's wedding, Lady Alys also managed Taura's wardrobe and appearance for the event.


Notes and references[]

  1. Barrayar chapter 3
  2. Barrayar chapter 16
  3. Barrayar chapter 19
  4. Memory chapter 5
  5. Mirror Dance chapter 16
  6. Memory chapter 13
  7. A Civil Campaign Epilogue
  8. Memory chapter 27
  9. A Civil Campaign chapter 14
  10. "Winterfair Gifts"

External links[]