- "I'm not sure I can make you understand about Bothari. Nobody else seems to. He's a superb ground combat soldier. He also hates my guts, as you Betans would phrase it. He enjoys hating my guts. It seems necessary for his ego, somehow.
"Would he shoot you in the back?"
"Never. Strike me in the face, yes. In fact, it was for decking me he was disciplined last time. But arming him to the teeth and leading him into battle at my back is perfectly safe."
- ―Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith[src]
Bothari was born in the Caravanserai of Vorbarr Sultana to a Barrayaran prostitute named Marusia Bothari, his father an unknown customer. His childhood was a harrowing experience, in which his mother sold him to customers to abuse. At the age of twelve, Konstantine became large enough to violently assault his abusers, and ran away from home. He became a street urchin and thug, before joining the Barrayaran Imperial Service at age sixteen as an enlisted man.
The military gave Bothari a much more orderly life than the one he had had in the Caravanserai. His marks in basic training were excellent, and he saw much combat in his twenties, rising through the ranks and earning numerous commendations. However, he lapsed into mental illness during a four year period in which he was assigned as Commodore Ges Vorrutyer's batman.
Bothari became enough of a discipline problem that he was assigned to the recently-demoted Aral Vorkosigan's warship, the General Vorkraft. He was only one of the many problematic soldiers assigned there. Vorkosigan took a liking to Bothari, although Bothari hated him in return and once struck him in the face. They frequently engaged in violent sparring sessions together.
A mutiny attempt against Vorkosigan was staged by the political officer of the General Vorkraft, Lieutenant Radnov. Radnov thought Bothari hated Vorkosigan enough to kill him, and arranged for him to do so during the seizure of a Betan Astronomical Survey landing party. While pretending to play along, Bothari instead stunned Vorkosigan from behind and left him unconscious at the scene.
The sergeant ambushed Betans Cordelia Naismith and Dubauer with a nerve disruptor before leaving the planet. Dubauer was directly hit and left permanently crippled. When Bothari returned to the General Vorkraft, he confessed what had happened to the ship's acting commander, Korabik Gottyan. Gottyan then put Bothari in solitary confinement, though he was freed after Vorkosigan resumed command. He became Naismith's guard during her brief stay on the vessel.
During the later Barrayaran invasion of Escobar, Bothari returned to his role as now-Admiral Vorrutyer's batman. At Vorrutyer's orders (enforced via astonishingly cruel punishments), he raped and impregnated captured prisoner Elena Visconti; he served as Vorrutyer's chief torturer. However, when Vorrutyer later ordered him to rape Cordelia Naismith after she was captured, he refused. Admiral Vorrutyer decided to rape her himself after realizing she was the woman Aral Vorkosigan had previously taken prisoner and fallen in love with. Bothari snapped and lashed out, slashing Vorrutyer's throat and killing him.
As a Vorkosigan armsman, Bothari executed Imperial pretender Vidal Vordarian at Cordelia Vorkosigan's orders. He was the bodyguard of Miles Naismith Vorkosigan for eighteen years. During the Tau Verde Ring war, Bothari was killed by Elena Visconti, who saw him solely as one of her torturers (true, but incomplete); she did not know that he was also a fellow victim.
Personality and traits
- "I can't pretend he's a moral or intellectual giant. He's a very complex man with a very limited range of expression, who's had some very bad experiences. But in his own twisty way, he's honorable."
- ―Aral tries to explain Bothari to Cordelia[src]
Bothari seldom spoke at any length. He was sensitive about being a bastard child, and deeply troubled by his lack of memories from the Barrayaran-Escobaran War. He feared himself, and took comfort in his uniform and his knowledge of how to behave while wearing it.
It was postulated by Aral Vorkosigan that Bothari did not naturally have very much of a core personality, instead becoming that which his direct superiors wanted him to be. Thus, for most of his military career when his commanders wanted him to be a good soldier, he did exactly that. Aral Vorkosigan wanted a crack soldier, a commando who would look him in the eye and tell him off when need be, and that is what he got. Ges Vorrutyer wanted a rapist torturer, and got that in spades. Piotr Vorkosigan wanted an Armsman and so he became that. Aral believed the reason Bothari was so attached to Cordelia was because she wanted, and originally needed, a hero, thus offering him a better role than any he'd ever been provided.
He was very tall, about six foot six, and startlingly ugly, with a beak-like nose, narrow face, and close-set eyes not on the same level.
- Shards of Honor
- The Warrior's Apprentice
- Cetaganda (Mentioned only)
- Mirror Dance (Mentioned only)
There has been much discussion over the years about Sergeant Bothari; a particularly good explanation of him as Reformed Villain Hero can be found here.