Miles VorkosiganMiles Vorkosigan is the fictional hero of a series of novels and stories by Lois McMaster Bujold.
Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers.
In Shards of Honor, Cordelia Naismith, captain of an exploration ship from the extremely liberal and technologically sophisticated Beta Colony, is trapped on a newly-discovered planet with Admiral Lord Aral Vorkosigan of Barrayar, notorious throughout human space as the "Butcher of Komarr". In this unwelcome situation, she finds Vorkosigan is not at all the monster his reputation suggests, and begins to fall in love with him. She subsequently undertakes another mission for Beta, successfully delivering new technology to an ally which results in a Barrayaran invasion being repelled with disastrous casualties, but is captured and again encounters Vorkosigan. Back on Beta, she is hailed as a heroine until her strangely sympathetic descriptions of Vorkosigan convince Betan authorities she has been brainwashed. Naismith then escapes from Beta and goes to Barrayar, there to become Lady and later Countess Vorkosigan. The dying Emperor of Barrayar appoints Aral as Regent Elect for his grandson and heir, the four year old Prince Gregor. Aral, who is at the top of the list of succession after the Prince, at first refuses, but Cordelia convinces him to take the job.
As Barrayar begins, the Vorkosigans are expecting their first child, the Emperor dies, and Aral takes over as Regent. An unsuccessful plot to assassinate Aral with poison gas seriously injures Miles while still a fetus. An experimental treatment is available but extremely harmful to the mother, so Cordelia undergoes a placental transfer operation and Miles is transferred to an artificial womb, a uterine replicator acquired subsequent to the recent war. While Cordelia and Aral are recuperating, a palace coup occurs but the young emperor is rescued by the loyal security chief and flown to the Vorkosigans. They escape into the hills on horseback and hide Gregor amongst the rural peasant population. After Cordelia rejoins Aral at a military base they hear that Miles, in his replicator, has been taken to the Palace as a hostage. It seems certain he will die within two weeks for lack of proper maintenance, but Aral cannot bring himself to mount a rescue for one hostage, even his son, out of hundreds. Cordelia convinces her two bodyguards to follow her on a private expedition to rescue Miles and Gregor's mother, the Princess Kareen. Once in the Palace, Cordelia and her party are captured. They overpower their captors, execute the Pretender to the throne, and escape with Miles, but the Princess is killed. The coup falls apart without its leader and peace returns to the planet. The enlightened Betan Cordelia is given control of Prince Gregor's education, with far-reaching consequences for benighted Barrayar.
When Miles Naismith Vorkosigan is born, he is a dwarf, with extremely fragile bones that tend to break under any stress. This has particular consequences on Barrayar, where birth defects are common and were subject to infanticide during the centuries of the Time of Isolation, before Barrayar was rediscovered by galactic civilization. So-called "muties" are still reviled and shunned, and Miles, though genetically healthy, will deal with prejudice throughout his life.
As The Warrior's Apprentice begins, 17-year-old Miles fails to qualify for the Barrayaran Service Academy, breaking both legs during the physical. On a visit to Beta Colony, in quick succession he obtains a ship, a pilot, and a smuggling mission, running guns to a beleaguered government. He captures another ship from the Oseran Mercenaries, somewhat unintentionally, and co-opts the crew into his own Dendarii Mercenaries through sheer improvisation. Under "Admiral Naismith", the Dendarii eventually take over the rest of the Oserans and win the war.
The unexpected arrival of Miles' cousin Ivan Vorpatril awakens Miles to the realization that the Council of Counts has charged him with maintaining a private army — capital treason on Barrayar. He returns home posthaste, reveals the real plot behind the charges, and escapes trial by recasting the Dendarii as Imperial forces. He is rewarded with admission to the Academy.
("Mountains of Mourning")
(short reference to Ethan of Athos)
("Labyrinth", Taura, Jackson's Whole)
("Borders of Infinity")
In Brothers in Arms, Miles discovers he has a clone brother, who is trying to kill him. The assassination plot is foiled and Miles takes his brother home to meet the family. His mother, Cordelia, accepts the clone, who is thus named Mark in Barrayan tradition, as another son and convinces the Vorkosigans that the clone is a legitimate family member.
In Mirror Dance, Miles is killed after Mark is captured when he masquerades as Miles and dupes the Free Dendarii Mercenaries into a mission to free clones held "prisoner" on the planet of Jacksons Whole. Although Miles is treated in the battlefield and put into a cryogenic hybernation chamber, it is lost when the assult team has to withdraw and an inovative medic hides the chamber in freight forwarding warehouse. While the Mercenaries negotiate Mark's release from a planetary overlord, Miles is unknowingly resuscitated by the employees of a rival overlord.
By the time of Memory, several years later, Miles' already weak body is showing strains of his adventures. He suffers an epileptic seizure during a combat mission, injures friendly personnel and then falsifies the mission report to cover up his medical condition. He is caught lying by Simon Ilyan, head of Imperial Security. Forced to resign from Impsec, Emperor Gregor Vorbarra appoints Miles as an Imperial Auditor after Miles suspects a plot to destroy Simon Ilyan's career and subvert Impsec is in the making.
In the last 3 Vorkosigan novels as well as the one to be published this year(Komarr, A Civil Campaign, Diplomatic Immunity), Miles is living the calmer (at least by his relative standards) life of a troubleshooter for the growing Barrayaran empire. He is also preparing to settle down and have a family.
- I'm confused here because 3+1 is 4 but there aren't enough books left unless you count The Borders of Infinity which hasn't been covered yet
While Miles grows, the series background does as well. The large support cast of characters that populate the Vorkosigan novels are well developed. The cultures of the various worlds and locations where the action takes place - Barrayar, Beta, Cetaganda, Komarr, Klein Station, Athos, Jackson's Whole - are distinct and skillfully worked out. Variety also appears in the stories themselves: Miles's challenges are varied from one episode to another, not just a new space battle in each book. These strengths explain why the Vorkosigan series is among the most popular with readers and critics in current science fiction and likely to remain such in future installments.