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The Butcher of Komarr was the unfortunate nickname given to Aral Vorkosigan following the events of the Solstice Massacre, making him the most feared Barrayaran to galactic space, and tainting the image of Barrayar not long after it ended its Time of Isolation, joining the Galactic Community.[1]

"You ever want to see smoke come out of his ears, whisper, 'the Butcher of Komarr' in his hearing."
―Miles to Elli about Aral Vorkosigan[src]

The title for the first two decades became a quick button to press to upset Vorkosigan, as it was impossible to convince anyone save his confidents that his second-in-command had broken his vow to not harm his prisoners; other worlds, Komarrans in particular, felt he was directly responsible, while most Barrayarans felt "his" act was justifiable. His son, Miles Vorkosigan, became tainted himself by association as "the Butcher's son".

"Useful! Have you found the name of the Butcher of Komarr a handy prop, then, sir?" Miles said indignantly.
His father's eyes narrowed, partly in grim amusement, partly in appreciation. "I've found it a mixed ... damnation. But yes, I have used the weight of that reputation, from time to time, to lean on certain susceptible men. Why not, I paid for it.
―Miles talks to Aral Vorkosigan about reputation[src]

Vorkosigan eventually learned to use that reputation to strong-arm potential foes, feeling he'd "paid" for the right to use it in that manner.[2]

Notes and references[]

  1. Shards of Honor particularly chapter 2
  2. A Civil Campaign chapter 15