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Vorkosigan Wiki

Miles at age 20 by Tom Kidd

Miles Naismith Vorkosigan (MAI-UHLZ NAY-smihth vor-KO-suh-g'n) was a military officer, space mercenary, Imperial Auditor, and District Count in the service of Barrayaran Emperor Gregor Vorbarra. He was the son of Emperor Gregor's regent, Admiral Aral Vorkosigan, and the grandson of famous Barrayaran General Piotr Vorkosigan. His mother was Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan, a Betan Expeditionary Force Captain.

For a detailed list of events in his life, see the timeline.


Traumatic birth[]

Miles Naismith Vorkosigan was the son of Lord Aral Vorkosigan and his Betan wife Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan, and was conceived shortly after their hurried marriage. While his mother was pregnant, she inhaled the poison gas soltoxin during an unsuccessful assassination attempt on her husband. She was administered the antidote to save her life, but the treatment destroyed her fetus's skeletal development.[1]

Lady Vorkosigan insisted on experimental treatment to save her son's life. He was born at five months gestation by Cesarean section, nearly killing his mother in the process, and transferred to a uterine replicator.[2] While the infant was initially intended to be named Piotr Miles Vorkosigan, his grandfather Count Piotr Pierre Vorkosigan refused to allow the use of his name once it became clear the boy would be deformed; thus, Cordelia awarded him her father's full name, Miles Naismith. Count Piotr attempted to kill young Miles twice.[3]

Midway through the in vitro treatments, the uterine replicator containing Miles was kidnapped by Count Vidal Vordarian as part of an usurpation plot against the Emperor of Barrayar. The fetal Miles Vorkosigan was rescued from Vordarian's custody by his mother in a commando raid that also led to the death of Vordarian himself and the collapse of Vordarian's Pretendership, along with the untimely death of Princess Kareen Vorbarra. After ten months gestation, the treatments were as complete as possible, and Miles Vorkosigan was removed from the replicator.[4]


Miles's bones remained extremely fragile. He spent a year in a spinal brace, and was unable to walk until age four.[5] Despite repeated corrective surgeries, his height only reached four-foot-nine at maturity, and even that was against medical advice.[6]

As a young child, Miles was attended and defended by his armsman and constant bodyguard, Sergeant Konstantine Bothari. At age five, his grandfather finally reconciled with the rest of the family.[5] Count Piotr taught Miles how to ride, and trained a horse named Fat Ninny for his personal use.[7] Young Miles competed in gymkhana events on horseback, winning prizes.[8] Around age thirteen, he was in the Imperial Junior Scouts with his cousin Ivan Vorpatril.[9]

Growing up, Miles attempted suicide several times as a teenager, including one time only his bodyguard Bothari knew about following a failed relationship. Miles was also prone to suicidally adventurous behavior, such as riding a wild, untamed horse after being rejected by a group of children. Even as a child, however, Miles adapted by becoming a "manipulator par excellence" despite (or because of) his physical shortcomings. Miles was capable of bullying his cousin Ivan, or forcing the Koudelka girls to perform military marches.[10] Often, Miles would lead his followers into disastrous situations, such as accidentally getting Ivan trapped in a cave-in in an "escape" tunnel Miles convinced him to dig.[11]


At the age of seventeen, Miles Vorkosigan failed the physical exam to enter the Barrayaran Imperial Service as an officer, by jumping from a climbing wall and breaking both legs, the night after this failure his grandfather died. Soon afterwards, he traveled to his mother's homeworld of Beta Colony with a stopover on Escobar to search for the parents of his bodyguard's daughter, Elena Bothari. When his bodyguard was detained while going through customs in a Betan shuttleport, he encountered a situation where down-on-his-luck jump pilot Arde Mayhew was threatening to destroy his ship and disrupt space traffic. Miles conned his way on-board and talked Mayhew down before recruiting him as an armsman to keep him out of the hands of the police and decided to buy his ship and take up cargo-running. He found Baz Jesek, a Barrayaran officer who had deserted, in a Betan junkyard, and similarly recruited him.[12]

Miles took a contract from Major Daum of Felice to smuggle an illegal cargo into Tau Verde IV. After encountering difficulties, he improvised a force called the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet into existence. Also a Tau Verde IV they met Elena's mother (Elena Visconti) and found out that Bothari had impregnated her through rape during the invasion of Escobar; her mother shot and killed Bothari to gain "justice" for what he had done. Elena vowed never to return to Barrayar and instead became a commander in the Dendarii under the mentoring of Admiral Tung; she also married Baz Jesek, who became fleet engineer. Miles returned to Barrayar after his cousin Ivan turned up suddenly to face a plot against his father; after the adventure Miles gained admittance to the Imperial Service Academy.[13]

Three year later Miles graduated from the academy and instead of getting the space duty he desired, was sent to Kyril Island as the Weather Officer. This was intended as a test of Miles' character which he failed spectacularly by ending up in the custody of Imperial Security. During his incarceration, a situation developed in the Hegen Hub that involved the Dendarii, so Miles was sent there to defuse the situation. While there, Miles instead encountered and rescued the absconding Emperor Gregor, uncovered and foiled a planned Cetagandan invasion, and re-won control of the Dendarii.[14] The Dendarii later gained official status as a covert operations arm of the Barrayaran military, and over time Miles carried out more than thirty missions as their commander. While in command of the Dendarii, he assumed the persona of "Admiral Naismith", speaking with a Betan accent. Naismith was believed by some to be a clone of Miles Vorkosigan, created by Cetagandan agents as part of a plot against Barrayar, a backstory for the character improvised by Miles during their adventure on Earth.[15]

During this adventure, the twenty-four year old Miles' life became more complicated when he discovered that he had an actual clone, created by Komarran terrorists with the intent of killing Miles and his family and ultimately becoming Emperor of Barrayar. During the encounter the Barrayaran security commander ordered his troops to kill the clone. Miles considered the clone to be his brother, and according to Barrayaran naming practices named him Mark, the second name of his maternal grandfather. During the subsequent melee, he rescued Ivan, who had been kidnapped by the terrorists to bring Miles to them, and rescued Mark, who killed Galen the chief conspirator, and succeeded in avoiding the Barrayaran hit squad after Mark as well as the Cetagandan hit squad who were after Admiral Naismith for his recent Dagoola IV prisoner rescue.[16]

Two years later, his brother Mark took a squad of Dendarii on a quixotic, and failed, raid on the brain transplant clone facility where Mark had been raised to rescue a group of clones who were slated to be full body donors (leading to their death). Miles came to his rescue, but was killed in the process; although he was successfully cryo-frozen and revived, he was left with a condition which caused periodic epileptic-like seizures, particularly under great stress.[17] He tried to conceal this from Simon Illyan, his boss and chief of Imperial Security; the problem was revealed when Miles took part in the rescue of a kidnapped Imperial Courier and had a seizure during the rescue, accidentally cutting off the courier's legs during the seizure. He tried to further conceal the problem by falsifying the report on the incident. After Simon Illyan received a report of the actual incident and Miles' hidden seizures he was requested to resign from ImpSec, the alternative being a court martial, putting an end to his military career and life with the Dendarii.[18]

Soon afterwards, when Illyan fell ill and was being kept isolated, he became suspicious that the illness could be a plot against Illyan, so he requested that Emperor Gregor assign an Imperial Auditor to investigate the situation. Instead, the Emperor surprised him by appointing him as a "Ninth Auditor", a temporary designation by tradition, but nonetheless endowed with full Auditor powers. His handling and solution of the case was reviewed by the other Auditors and his status as Auditor was made permanent. Miles also received a long-awaited and desired (if retroactive) promotion to Captain.[19]

Mid life - 30s on[]

Shortly thereafter, he accompanied one of his new colleagues, Lord Auditor Vorthys, to Komarr, home to the sole wormhole connecting Barrayar to the rest of the Nexus. (Barrayar conquered Komarr some years before Miles' birth in order to gain control of that vital access). Their mission was to investigate an accident involving the solar energy array orbiting Komarr; the accident turned out to have been caused by the secret testing of a new weapon by which Komarran conspirators hoped to permanently destroy Barrayar's access to the wormhole. Miles was quartered with Lord Auditor Vorthys' niece and her husband Tien, a Barrayaran official. In the course of the investigation, Miles survived yet another brush with death although his host, who had become ensnared in the plot, did not survive. To make a bad situation worse, Miles fell in love with his host's wife, Ekaterin Vorsoisson, who just happened to be on the verge of leaving her emotionally abusive husband when that disaster struck. She proved instrumental in foiling the plot. The entire affair was classified as secret due both to the political nature of the conspiracy and the new technology of the Komarran secret weapon.[20]

Ekaterin, professing to be violently allergic to marriage, moved back to Barrayar with her nine-year-old son, Nikolai, to stay with her uncle, Lord Auditor Vorthys. Miles embarked upon a bizarre, if typically complicated, strategy: he would woo Ekaterin without telling her, in the hope that she could be persuaded to reconsider her stance. Miles was hoist upon his own petard during a particularly disastrous dinner party that he invited Ekaterin to. She was furious when she discovered his machinations. An additional complication arose when rumors accused Miles of having murdered her husband in order to marry her. Due to Imperial Security concerns, she was not at liberty to refute the allegations, even when her relations attempted to move her son to "safety". This provoked her into drastic action: she proposed to Miles herself in a most public fashion; he accepted without hesitation.[21]

They were married during the mid-winter festival that marked the beginning of a new year on Barrayar, and survived yet another attack in which Ekaterin was poisoned by one of Miles' Auditorial victims. The plot was foiled by Taura, one of his former girl-friends, and by Roic, one of his Armsmen.[22]

About a year later, they decided the time had come to have children. So, they conceived twins in uterine replicators (by now normal for well-to-do Barrayaran couples), then left for a honeymoon. On their voyage home, Emperor Gregor dispatched his youngest Auditor to defuse a diplomatic crisis at a quaddie space station. The couple became embroiled in yet another deadly, complicated situation involving potential war with the Cetagandans. Happily, Miles survived a near-death illness caused by exposure to a Cetagandan biological weapon, and they were able to return to Barrayar just in time for their children's birth -- a son named Aral Alexander and a daughter named Helen Natalia.[23]

Some years later, Miles was instructed by Gregor through the urgings of Laisa to investigate WhiteChrys, a Kibou-daini cryopreservation corporation, which had plans to expand its services in Komarr. While there, Miles became embroiled in a coverup and fraud. At the conclusion of his investigation, he was informed by Colonel Vorventa that his father had passed away. Thus, Miles finally inherited the district countship as Count Miles Vorkosigan (though since his father's appointment as Viceroy of Sergyar, Miles had handled all of the Countship's duties in his absence, including voting at Council of Counts.)[24]

Personality and traits[]

Miles was both brilliant (especially in military tactics) and hyperactive; one of his girlfriends described him as "addicted to adrenaline rushes." He compulsively and constantly challenged the world in spite of (or because of) his stature: sometimes with disastrous consequences, although more often his mind overcame his physical weakness.

He had an ambiguous status on his home planet, being simultaneously a pampered and powerful aristocrat and a despised "mutie". At times, he contemplated running away from Barrayar and its prejudice against disabled people, but he never acted on this impulse, perhaps because of his loyalty to his family and his Vor code of honor.

He had a strong tendency to manipulate people and was very good at bluffing. The Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet originally began as pure imaginative figment, and through frantic improvisation he concealed his deception from his erstwhile recruits; their accomplishments made real his invention. With the early success of this "lie first, fix it later" strategy, he did not become fully aware of its ethically dubious nature until over a decade later, when (finally) it blew up in his face: first he was caught lying about his seizure disorder, and then the widow he loved was enraged when she discovered that he had been attempting to court her by stealth during her socially-recognized period of mourning.

After his retirement, Miles lived the (relatively) calmer life of Imperial Auditor, a sort of cross between special investigator and special prosecutor, for the growing Barrayaran empire. He settled down somewhat while raising a family of one stepson, Nikolai Vorsoisson, and six children of his own: Aral Alexander, Helen Natalia, Elizabeth, Taura, Selig, and Simone.

After the events of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, Miles found himself going from an only child to having a twin brother several years removed to being the eldest of eleven siblings in his forties, three of whom would be genetically half-siblings, thanks to uterine replicator technology. This was due to Cordelia planning six daughters with Aral's frozen gametes, and Jole's three sons crossing his gametes with Aral's using three enucleated eggs from Cordelia.

The Vorkosigan Saga Sourcebook and Roleplaying Game warns game masters should not include Miles Vorkosigan or he will attempt to take over the players' mission, and if he doesn't, the game master isn't playing him correctly.

Admiral Naismith[]

Main article: Admiral Miles Naismith

Admiral Naismith was Miles' former covert ops alter ego, the Betan commander of the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet, which dominated his life from age 17 to 30.

Barrayaran titles, ranks, and styles[]

Until the death of Piotr Vorkosigan: Lord Miles Vorkosigan; Lord Miles
Until admittance into the Imperial Service Academy: Lord Vorkosigan
Until Academy graduation: Cadet Kosigan; Lord Vorkosigan
As Ensign: Ensign Vorkosigan; Lord Vorkosigan
As Lieutenant: Lieutenant Lord Vorkosigan; Lord Vorkosigan
After discharge: Lord Vorkosigan. 
As Imperial Auditor: Imperial Auditor Lord Vorkosigan; Lord Auditor VorkosiganCaptain VorkosiganLord Vorkosigan.
After the death of Aral Vorkosigan: Count Vorkosigan, Imperial Auditor Count Vorkosigan

Behind the scenes[]

  • Miles' name is Latin for "soldier". Bujold admitted that the connection was accidental but relevant. In particular, his name was taken from Miles Hendon, from Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper.[25]
  • Miles's physical handicaps were templated from a real-life pharmacist coworker of the author's.[25]
  • Some of Miles's personality comes from T. E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia)[25]
  • There is also influence from C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower stories, and from the young Winston Churchill; his "great man's son syndrome" is stated as stemming from the author's relationship with her own father.[26]
  • See also Goodreads Q&A for influences in creation of Miles.

Notes and references[]

  1. Barrayar chapter 8
  2. Barrayar chapter 9
  3. Barrayar chapters 9,10
  4. Barrayar chapter 20
  5. 5.0 5.1 Barrayar Epilogue
  6. The Vor Game chapter 1
  7. "The Mountains of Mourning"
  8. Mirror Dance chapter 17
  9. Komarr chapter 18
  10. Mirror Dance chapter 7
  11. Cetaganda chapter 11
  12. The Warrior's Apprentice chapters 1-6
  13. The Warrior's Apprentice
  14. The Vor Game
  15. Brothers in Arms chapter 4
  16. "The Borders of Infinity"
  17. Mirror Dance chapter 22
  18. Memory chapters 2-6
  19. Memory chapters 16-28
  20. Komarr
  21. A Civil Campaign
  22. "Winterfair Gifts"
  23. Diplomatic Immunity
  24. Cryoburn
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Young Miles, Author's Notes
  26. The Vorkosigan Companion, essay by Bujold titled "Putting it Together: Life, the Vorkosiverse, and Everything"

External links[]