- "Yes, but by Barrayaran standards I'm more handicapped than you—I'm female. I wouldn't even be permitted to petition to take the tests."
- ―Elena is not permitted to serve[src]
Elena Bothari-Jesek (ay-LAY-nuh boh-THAH-ree JEH-suhk) was the daughter of Konstantine Bothari and Elena Visconti. As a child, she was a playmate for Miles Vorkosigan, Gregor Vorbarra, and Ivan Vorpatril, though as they grew older, she became more aware of her relative lack of status and grew shier and less likely to speak her mind. She was one of the founders of the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet and served first as a commander, then as a ship captain. She and her husband Bazil Jesek chose to retire to Escobar after about a decade; she took up a job as a commercial shipmaster and began raising children.
Elena Bothari's mother Elena Visconti was a prisoner of war during the Barrayaran invasion of Escobar, and was sexually abused by Ges Vorrutyer, Serg Vorbarra as well as Konstantine Bothari, who fathered her child. Visconti had her fetal daughter transferred to a uterine replicator and sent to Barrayar after the war. She was born at the Imperial Military Hospital in Vorbarr Sultana, and named Elena by her father, who had become a Vorkosigan armsman.
Bothari gave his daughter to Karla Hysopi to raise, and Hysopi was her primary caretaker for some time thereafter. While Elena was still an infant during the war of Vordarian's Pretendership, she was among the hostages held by Vidal Vordarian's forces. When young, she was a playmate to Miles Vorkosigan  and was sometimes in on his childhood schenanighans, along with Ivan Vorpatril, such as the time they found a cache of Occupation-era weapons. She spent enough time in the Vorkosigan household to have a bedroom in Vorkosigan House and enough personal knowledge of the Countess to (later) predict how she would relate to Lord Mark.
When Miles failed the entrance exams for the Imperial Service Academy, he took Elena with him on a journey to Beta Colony; from there she traveled with him to Tau Verde and helped in the creation of the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet. At the end of the Tau Verde Ring War, she married Bazil Jesek, one of the other founders of the fleet.
When Miles left them, he gave Elena the rank of Commander, and charged Bazil and Ky Tung with her training as a military officer. She played an important role in the War of the Hegen Hub. In her later years as an Dendarii officer, she was promoted to Captain and given command of the warship, the Peregrine.
Eventually, she and Bazil decided to retire from military service and live on Escobar; Baz as an engineer for a shipyard, and Elena as a commercial shipmaster. When last seen, the two of them had a daughter named Cordelia.
Personality and Traits
- "For the thousandth time Miles wondered how such an ugly man could have produced such a beautiful daughter. Every one of his features was echoed in her face, but richly transmuted. At eighteen she was tall, like her father, fully six feet to his six-and-a-half; but while he was whipcord lean and tense, she was slim and vibrant. His nose a beak, hers an elegant aquiline profile; his face too narrow, hers with the air of some perfectly-bred aristocratic sight-hound, a borzoi or a greyhound. Perhaps it was the eyes that made the difference; hers were dark and lustrous, alert, but without his constantly shifting, unsmiling watchfulness. Or the hair; his greying, clipped in his habitual military burr, hers long, dark, straight-shining. A gargoyle and a saint, by the same sculptor, facing each other across some ancient cathedral portal."
- ―Elena versus her father[src]
Physically, Elena was tall, thin, and strikingly beautiful despite maintaining a strong resemblance to her father, Konstantine Bothari. Her face was thin with large beautiful eyes, and her hair was dark and straight. When she was young, it was worn long; by the time she'd served for a few years, she had it cut very short.
In her teens, Elena was shy and off-balance, angry about unequal treatment on Barrayar, and confused about the conflicting stories her father told her about her mother. Learning the truth about her mother was deeply traumatizing to her. She became a capable soldier, if somewhat embittered for a time. She found eventual resolution for her past with help from Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan during the events of Mirror Dance, leading eventually to her decision to find a different job where she could raise children of her own.
Her first daughter was named Cordelia in honor of Cordelia Vorkosigan.
- Shards of Honor
- The Warrior's Apprentice
- The Vor Game
- "The Borders of Infinity" (Mentioned only)
- Brothers in Arms
- Mirror Dance
- Komarr (Mentioned only)
- "Winterfair Gifts"
- Diplomatic Immunity (Mentioned only)