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"Every society has to face the question, Who will guard the guardians? The Imperial Auditor is the Barrayaran-style answer. The Auditors are sort of a cross between, oh, a Betan Special Prosecutor, an Inspector General, and a minor deity."
―Miles Vorkosigan, discussing the position of an Imperial Auditor. [src]

The Imperial Auditor was a privileged position in the government of Barrayar, earned via appointment by the Emperor; an auditor spoke with his Voice. There existed eight permanent Auditors and a Ninth Temporary Auditor. Imperial Auditors held their appointments till death, retirement, impeachment, or until the Emperor rescinded the appointment. Usually, they served for life.[1] According to Miles, Auditors tended to be retired Admirals or Generals, "in case they have to put the wind up non-retired admirals or generals." However, there was no prohibition against civilians serving as Auditors, or officers of lesser rank. 

Imperial Auditors were originally the Emperor's financial auditors: They made sure that the Counts were correctly paying the Emperor his taxes. Because they spoke with the Emperor's Voice, they soon became feared. It was said that bandits would ride point for an Auditor and make sure that no one disturbed him on his way.[2] On Barrayar, the appearance of an Auditor was an immediate concern, and Barrayarans usually spent the few minutes between realizing an auditor was en route and the time he arrived trying to figure out what they had done to be Audited.

On "modern" Barrayar, Imperial Auditors served more as Special Investigators. They usually were tasked with solving problems that had escaped conventional problem-solving strategies, though they could also handle more routine financial matters. 

"Since the official job description of an Imperial Auditor was, in effect, "Whatever You Say, Gregor," Miles could hardly argue with this."
―Miles, being blunt about what an Auditor's real purpose is. [src]

The office of Imperial Auditor (or at least its modern-day incarnation) may have been created by Emperor Dorca the Just Vorbarra as part of his governmental reforms to create a centralized monarchy at the expense of the District Counts and the Council of Counts.

Known Imperial Auditors[]

"We think of General Vorparadijs as a sort of Auditor Emeritus. Respected, but we don't make him come to meetings anymore."
"In fact," muttered Vorgustafson under his breath, "we don't even mention them to him.
―Vorthys and Vorgustafson on Vorparadijs[src]
  • Admiral Valentine:
    • Specialty: Military Affairs.
    • Semi-retired at the time of Memory, too frail to perform duties.
  • General Vorsmythe (deceased as of Memory)[1]

Ninth Auditor[]

The position of Ninth Imperial Auditor was always left open, to be filled by appointment as needed. If a situation that required a specialized knowledge outside of a usual Auditor's skillset was needed, an appropriate expert would be found, and given the leeway to investigate as needed (such as Miles Vorkosigan, a former Imperial Security officer, initiating an investigation within Imperial Security Headquarters itself). After the situation had passed, the person holding the office of Ninth Auditor was released. There were some limits to a Ninth Auditor's powers, as he could not order executions and any arrests he made must have been related to the case and should likely have sufficient evidence to present to a prosecutor. Other than that, a Ninth Auditor had all the powers of his permanent counterparts.

Miles Vorkosigan's Audits[]

Behind the scenes[]

  • As far as can be discerned there is no current real world equivalent to an Auditor as a permanent office. Their appointment by the chief executive, combined with the life-long appointment and the fact that there are eight or nine of them, makes Auditors look like American Supreme Court Justices, but their jobs are in no way related. In some of their duties, they are analogous to Special Prosecutors, in others to the chairmen of special commissions such as the Challenger Disaster special commission, and in some to conventional financial auditors, but with far more legal clout (as befits their supposed origin as the Auditors of the various Counts during the Years of Isolation). In Diplomatic Immunity, Miles acts as the effective military commander of the Barrayarian forces in Quaddiespace during his investigation, though whether this would have held true if they hadn't also been subject of his investigation is not known.
  • While not officially confirmed, there is additional historical validity for the office of Auditor. During the reign of Nicholas I of Russia, the Russian Emperor often sent his personal representatives, chosen among his fellow Generals, to envisage and ensure the execution of his orders and decrees. These representatives acted with the Emperor's own powers and were placed outside normal administrative procedure, as described in Riasanovsky's A History of Russia.
  • The author has stated that the office of Imperial Auditor was inspired by Chinese Imperial Censors, as described in Robert Van Gulik's Judge Dee books.

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Memory chapter 28
  2. 2.0 2.1 Memory chapter 5
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Civil Campaign chapter 5
  4. Memory chapter 16
  5. Komarr
  6. A Civil Campaign chapters 5,12,17-19
  7. "Winterfair Gifts"
  8. Diplomatic Immunity Epilogue
  9. Diplomatic Immunity
  10. Cryoburn