The Warrior's Apprentice, written by Lois McMaster Bujold and published by Baen Books in August 1986, is the second published book in the Vorkosigan Saga. It was later collected in the Young Miles omnibus edition. Chronologically it follows Barrayar and is followed by the novella "The Mountains of Mourning". For audio versions: The Reader's Chair published a version in 1997 read by Michael Hanson and Carol Cowan; Blackstone Audio published one in 2005 that was read by Grover Gardner.
The Warrior's Apprentice came in seventh place for a Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1987, and was runner-up for a Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1987.
The story began with Miles Vorkosigan about to take the physical tests for entrance to the Imperial Service Academy of Barrayar. He failed them right at the start - he jumped off a wall and broke both of his legs, due to his troubles with brittle bones.
Depressed, he returned home to recuperate. His elderly and ailing grandfather Piotr Vorkosigan died that night. Even more unhappy, and now at loose ends, he sought ideas for what to do with his future and came up with two in short order. First, he would find out who was the mother of his closest friend Elena Bothari, who was the daughter of his bodyguard. And second, he would take Elena with him to visit his grandmother Elizabeth Naismith on Beta Colony. His parents favored the idea because they wished to get him away from the political troubles that were building up around them in the form of a brand-new Emperor Gregor, whose readiness for his new power was about to come under strong testing.
- "Two hours," muttered Bothari. "We've only been in this bloody place two bloody hours.... "
- ―Getting into trouble[src]
When Miles, Elena, and Sergeant Bothari arrived at Beta Colony, it took hardly any time for all three of them to get into trouble. Miles began by collecting a suicidally-depressed jump pilot Arde Mayhew along with a freighter that had been about to be sold for junk; within a few hours, he also met and recruited an exiled Barrayaran military officer named Bazil Jesek. Having collected deep debts and a cargo ship and crew, he decided to collect a high-reward cargo for Major Carle Daum of Felice, a country on Tau Verde IV. He left Beta Colony only a week later carrying a cargo of high-tech weapons to smuggle to the Felicians to aid them in their war against the country of Pelias; this departure came barely a step ahead of an even larger pile of trouble.
In the process of scrambling from crisis to crisis, Miles managed to collect more and more troubles. These included a collection of mercenaries whose ship, the Ariel, he captured in a sneak attack, an asteroid mining facility that his new mercenaries captured for him, and yet another mercenary ship, the Triumph. Later, they came to include the crew of the Triumph, particularly including their captain, Ky Tung, as well as a group of Felician officers, led by General Halify, who began working with him, and a collection of galactics who had found themselves trapped on Felice when the fighting broke out.
- "Although it was just barely possible there was no way for three small warships and a battered freighter to take out an entire mercenary fleet."
- ―Deeper trouble[src]
This group turned out to include an Escobaran woman named Elena Visconti. She was Elena's long-lost mother, as it turned out, but her memories of Sergeant Bothari were not warm - she killed him at the first chance she got. Miles sank again into depression, only breaking free when matters were at their most critical. He realized he could end the war by stealing the Oserans' payroll in a fashion that led the Oserans to blame the Pelians; within a short time he ended up in charge of all of the mercenaries, whose name changed from the Oseran Free Mercenary Fleet to the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet.
At this point, his cousin from Barrayar, Ivan Vorpatril, showed up. Miles managed to deduce that there were very bad troubles at home, to the point where he was about to be charged with treason for owning his own private army. He rushed home with Ivan in tow and broke up the plot. As a reward/punishment for his actions, he was permitted to enter the Imperial Service Academy and the Dendarii became The Emperor's Own forces.
- "True, we can't leave him running around loose. I, too, shudder to think what accidents he might commit next. He should doubtless be confined to an institution, where he would be forced to labor all day long under many watchful eyes." He paused thoughtfully. "May I suggest the Imperial Service Academy?"
- ―What to do with Miles[src]
- Elizabeth Naismith
- Major Carle Daum
- Captain Auson
- Bel Thorne
- Aral Vorkosigan
- Gregor Vorbarra
- Ky Tung
Behind the Scenes
- The name "The Warrior's Apprentice" is a pun on the old folk tale "The Sorceror's Apprentice".
- The death of Count Piotr was emotionally inspired by the death of the author's Grandfather Gerould (she states that their personalities were not, however, at all similar).
- Arde's tale of trouble involving dal bags swelling and splitting his ship's bulkhead has a source in the Horatio Hornblower tales, in which bags of rice swelled up and caused the ship Marie Galante to sink. (Mr. Midshipman Hornblower)