Chronologically, the series begins with the adventures of Commander Cordelia Naismith of the Betan Astronomical Survey. In Shards of Honor, she gets caught in the preliminary moves in a war of conquest originated by the planet Barrayar. Stranded on a recently discovered planet, Cordelia finds herself in the company of a Barrayaran officer, Captain Lord Aral Vorkosigan. A conspiracy has landed him in the same predicament. Together, they undertake a long march to reach safety. Surviving several plots and stopping a war in which they serve on different sides, they finally get back together and marry.
In Barrayar, Aral Vorkosigan finds himself drawn into the deadly politics of his home planet. His and Cordelia’s unborn son, Miles, suffers for it when a poison gas attack hits home. Miles is placed in a uterine replicator in the hope of repairing some of the damage to him. When a coup against the young emperor forces the planet into civil war, Aral commands the armies for the emperor’s side. Cordelia, meanwhile, undertakes a desperate journey to the capital to save her son. She succeeds in doing so and kills the usurper.
At the time of The Warrior’s Apprentice, Miles Nai-smith Vorkosigan is a seventeen-year-old military genius whose fondest wish is to enter Barrayar’s top military academy. Unfortunately, the poison gas has deformed him, leaving his bones dangerously brittle. A botched physical prevents him from entering the academy. Heartbroken, he decides to visit his grandmother on Beta colony, accompanied only by his bodyguard and the man’s daughter. He runs into a Barrayaran deserter and a half-crazed wormhole pilot, whom he more or less adopts.
Soon thereafter, Miles finds himself and his people smuggling arms to one of the sides in a planetary conflict. En route, their ship is boarded by mercenaries working for the opposing side. Miles manages to take over their ship and incorporates the mercenaries into his self-invented Free Dendarii Mercenaries. As Admiral Miles Naismith, he collects more and more mercenaries. Using...
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