The Vor Game, written by Lois McMaster Bujold and published by Baen Books in September 1990, is the seventh published novel in the universe of the Vorkosigan Saga. Within the universe, it chronologically follows "The Mountains of Mourning" and is followed by Cetaganda. It was later collected in Young Miles. For audio versions, The Reader's Chair published a version in 1998, read by Michael Hanson and Carol Cowan; Blackstone Audio published one in 2005, read by Grover Gardner.
The Vor Game won a Hugo Award for Best Novel, came in fourth place for a Locus Award, was nominated for an SF Chronicle Award, and won a HOMer Award for Best SF novel, all in 1991.
It also won Fictionwise's 2002 eBook of the Year, and in 2005 Grover Gardner was nominated for an Audie Award for his reading for Blackstone Audio.
The Prince and the Mercenary
Together, they can get into a lot of trouble. Trouble only the combined forces of the Free Dendarii Mercenaries can get them out of. At least, that's what they're hoping...
In this latest adventure with the galaxy's craftiest mercenary leader Miles starts out by so shaking up the High Command on his home planet of Barrayar that he is sent to the other side of the galaxy – where who should he run into but his old pals the Free Dendarii Mercenaries. And a good thing too, because it turns out that Miles' childhood chum, that's Emperor Gregor to you, has been the victim of foul play, and only Miles – with a little Dendarii muscle – can save him. This is very important to Miles; because if Gregor dies the only person who could become the new emperor is Miles himself – and that he regards as a fate worse than death.
The show began as Miles Vorkosigan and his friends awaited their first Imperial Service postings. Some got ship duty, others got various Headquarters jobs; Miles got to go to Lazkowski Base on Kyril Island, where he was to serve as their new weatherman. As it was explained to him, if he could not learn how to command and be commanded by ordinary (not necessarily extremely bright) people, he would never make it in Barrayar's service; as a carrot, he was also promised a highly desirable ship duty job if he could survive for six months at this post.
- "But your most insidious chronic problem is in the area of . . . how shall I put this precisely . . . subordination. You argue too much."
- ―The reason for Kyril Island[src]
He found many troubles in his new job; which was a far more important one that he initially guessed – the weather here could very well kill people. He made some friends and enemies both; then, when a serious accident occurred five months into his six, he was forced to choose between his dreams for ship duty and supporting a mutiny. He made his choice and set off a major public incident in the process. Although he escaped the charges of mutiny, his career as a military soldier was over – unless he would be willing to work in Imperial Security for Simon Illyan, the only commander who would still take him.
- "But what better, more direct and efficient way for security to watch him than if he is assigned to Imperial Security?"
"What?" said Illyan and Miles together, in the same sharp horrified tone. "You're not serious," Illyan went on, as Miles added, "Security was never on my top-ten list of assignment choices."
- ―Neither Miles nor Simon Illyan wants Miles in ImpSec[src]
He spent several months inside ImpSec Headquarters, forbidden to leave the building, before he finally got his first genuine galactic mission and left for the Hegen Hub in the company of his new commanding officer, Captain Ungari, a military espionage agent. Within a short time, Miles was separated from his commander and his bodyguard and found himself on the run from what seemed to him to be every security guard in the Nexus. The Polians wanted to arrest him, the Jacksonians succeeded briefly, and the Aslunders' mercenary fleet, the Oseran Free Mercenary Fleet (formerly known as the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet) was pursuing him. And not him alone, for he had managed to meet up with his childhood foster-brother Gregor Vorbarra, who was himself on the run from Barrayar. The only place left for the two of them to run to was Vervain, so there they went; only to run into Miles's very first commanding officer from Kyril Island, General Stanis Metzov, together with Commander Cavilo, the head of Vervain's recently-hired mercenary fleet, Randall's Rangers.
- "Cavilo reappeared after a moment, to stand in the aperture with her hands on her hips and her chin outthrust in exasperated disbelief. 'How many people are you, anyway?'"
- ―Cavilo learns that Miles is Admiral Naismith[src]
After imprisoning Miles for a time, Cavilo sent him back to Aslund with orders to take the Dendarii fleet back over. She kept Gregor for herself. Miles succeeded and brought his fleet to Vervain; along the way, he met up with Cavilo, who was just then fleeing a Cetagandan invasion of Vervain that she'd helped orchestrate. He captured her and freed Gregor, sending him to Vervain station to do diplomacy and to put together a fleet for defending the Hegen Hub against the Cetagandans. Meanwhile, he, the Dendarii, and Randall's Rangers held the Vervani wormhole against the Cetagandans.
Eventually, the Hegen Alliance fleet arrived and saved the day. Miles got promoted from ensign to Lieutenant as a reward for his service and the Dendarii's role as The Emperor's Own mercenary fleet with Admiral Naismith in charge was established.
- "Well, that's a start on the subordination problem."
- ―Miles to Illyan[src]
- Aral Vorkosigan
- Cordelia Vorkosigan
- Lieutenant Ahn
- Lieutenant Bonn
- Yuan Oser
- Major Cecil
- Sydney Liga
Behind the scenes
The afterword to Young Miles identifies multiple sources for this tale:
- B. H. Liddell-Hart's military textbook Strategy.
- An Enya tape containing the song "Cursum Perficio" (and "Cu Chulainn")
- "The Forty Martyrs of Sebastiani"
- T. E. Lawrence's book The Mint.
- A print of an arctic weather station, titled "Alaskan Outpost".
- The reminiscences of a friend of the author's mother who helped build Thule airbase (located in Greenland; similarities between Lazkowski Base and Thule are not accidental).