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Byerly "By" Vorrutyer (vor-RUT-yr) was a Barrayaran Vor, who appeared to be a classic "town clown", but actually served as a secret Barrayaran Imperial Security agent.


"You've lied and you're lying, but I can't tell about what. You make my head hurt. I'm about to share the sensation."
―Ivan Vorpatril to Byerly Vorrutyer[src]

By was considered a High Vor "town clown", an aristocrat without any means of financial support save his family's wealth. He was considered foppish, with a taste for alcohol and gossip. He was bisexual, which had been hinted at in previous appearances but explicitly revealed by Rish. His clownish demeanor hid a taste for biting satire and harsh double entendres, as well as a fully developed sense of irony. He enjoyed subtlety, especially when it came to mind games.


By was a firm supporter of his cousin Dono Vorruyter, the former Lady Donna, aiding him in his Countship suit against Richars Vorrutyer. He had dealings with both Ivan Vorpatril and Miles Vorkosigan, and a professional relationship with Lady Alys Vorpatril, who was his ImpSec blind drop due to her relationship with former ImpSec Chief Simon Illyan.


"I live to serve."
―Byerly Vorrutyer[src]

By was considered a highly skilled ImpSec agent, at one point ranking as high as IS9. His involvement, however covert, with Lord Vorrutyer's ascension to Countship resulted in a demotion to IS8. His specialty was High Vor society, one of the trickiest and most sensitive areas of Barrayaran culture.

"Your Domestic Affairs handler has been afraid you were getting stale, Vorrutyer. He thought you needed a new challenge."
―Guy Allegre on Byerly's new "assignment"[src]

Byerly left Barrayar and the High Vor scene with House Cordonah. The public reason was that he was fleeing the planet because of imminent arrest over the sinking of Imperial Security Headquarters. As it happened, however, his true assignment was to be the family's Barrayaran intermediary. It also allowed Byerly, despite his protests, to deepen his relationship with Rish.

Behind the scenes[]

  • In Mirror Dance, Alys Vorpatril mentions a "certain nameless wit, or halfwit" who suggested Gregor Vorbarra might be gay. Fans have retroactively assumed she meant Byerly.
  • Byerly's name comes from a chain of upscale, "decadent", grocery stores in Minnesota, called Byerly's.
  • One source of inspiration (of many) for Byerly is Francis Cheviot in The Reluctant Widow.