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"There is only one Emperor on Barrayar, and he permits no one to get behind him. He still remembers how he came to power"
―Aral Vorkosigan on Ezar Vorbarra[src]

Ezar Vorbarra (EE-zahr vohr-BAA-ruh) was a general in the Barrayaran military who co-orchestrated a coup against Yuri Vorbarra to seize the Barrayaran Imperium. He reigned as Emperor of Barrayar for thirty-one years.


A distant cousin of the ruling Vorbarra emperors, Ezar fought against the Cetagandan Empire in the First Cetagandan War. He was General Piotr Vorkosigan's "military apprentice" and spent much time in the Dendarii Mountains with Vorkosigan's guerrillas. After the Cetagandans were defeated, he continued his military career and eventually rose to the rank of General. He was in charge of Green Army Headquarters when Emperor Yuri Vorbarra ordered the assassination of most of his relatives (it is not clear if death squads were sent after Ezar himself, or if he was regarded as too distant a relative). Among those slain in the subsequent massacre were two children of Yuri's half-brother Prince Xav Vorbarra, including Olivia Vorbarra Vorkosigan, the wife of Piotr Vorkosigan.[1][2][3]

Prince Xav and Vorkosigan, although political opponents, immediately made common cause against Emperor Yuri. They joined their forces and sought an alliance with Ezar Vorbarra. Although Prince Xav had a better right to the Imperium, he offered the throne to Ezar to secure his allegiance. A two year war followed before Yuri's government was toppled.[2] During the war, Ezar married Yuri's sister to make his claim to the Imperium stronger.[4] Yuri himself was captured and executed in an event later known as the Dismemberment of Mad Emperor Yuri.[5][6]

The assassination of Prince Serg[]

Ezar and his wife had one (known) child, Prince Serg Vorbarra. At some point, Ezar realized Serg was mentally unstable and unfit to rule, and indeed a danger to Barrayar's future. He therefore devised (along with Captain Negri) an elaborate, untraceable assassination that would remove Serg and his allies. When Negri learned of Beta Colony's plasma mirror weaponry, he and Ezar decided to enact their plan, coercing an unwilling Aral Vorkosigan into helping them, leading to the Escobaran Invasion.

Personality and traits[]

"Well, old man. I thought you might find a way to rule from your grave."
―Aral's opinion of being chosen Regent[src]

Ezar ruled absolutely. He was clever, wily, and ruthless; he was particularly skilled at pitting his enemies against each other. His decision to put Aral Vorkosigan as Regent was at least partly in the belief that by doing so he could continue his reign past death.

Features of Ezar's reign[]

Behind the scenes[]

For useful discussion of how Ezar was or was not related to Dorca Vorbarra and regarding his family members, see "Re: Vorbarra family tree" and 064489.html.

Notes and references[]

  1. Shards of Honor chapters 3,15
  2. 2.0 2.1 Barrayar chapter 6
  3. A Civil Campaign chapter 17
  4. A Civil Campaign chapter 2
  5. Shards of Honor chapter 15
  6. The Warrior's Apprentice chapter 14
  7. Shards of Honor chapters 3,5
  8. Shards of Honor chapters 2,5
  9. Barrayar chapter 1
  10. Barrayar chapter 7
  11. Shards of Honor
  12. The Vor Game chapter 17
  13. Barrayar chapter 15
  14. Barrayar chapter 14
  15. A Civil Campaign chapter 15
  16. Shards of Honor chapters 11,14