Cetaganda is a science fiction novel by Lois McMaster Bujold, first published in four parts from October to December 1995 in Analog Science Fiction and Fact,[1] and published in book form by Baen Books in January 1996. It is a part of the Vorkosigan Saga, and was included in the 2001 omnibus Miles, Mystery and Mayhem.

Cetaganda cover
Cover of the first edition
AuthorLois McMaster Bujold
Audio read byGrover Gardner
Cover artistGary Ruddell
CountryUnited States
SeriesVorkosigan Saga
GenreScience fiction
PublisherBaen Books
Publication date
Preceded byMirror Dance 
Followed byMemory 

Plot summary

Miles and Ivan are sent to the home world of the Cetagandan Empire to represent Barrayar at the state funeral of the dowager Empress, mother of the current Emperor. They quickly become entangled in an internal Cetagandan plot when they arrive at a nearly deserted docking bay, much to their puzzlement. A ba (a sexless servant of the Cetagandan rulers) unexpectedly rushes into their spaceship. A struggle ensues, in which the ba drops a weapon and some sort of artifact before fleeing. Miles takes it upon himself to investigate — without informing his superiors — and eventually discovers that the artifact is a fake copy of the priceless Great Key, which has been stolen. The ba is later found dead.

Realizing that an unknown enemy is trying to frame him and Barrayar, Miles forms an unusual alliance with Rian Degtiar, the "Handmaiden of the Star Crèche", who is charged with the duties of Empress until the new one is chosen. Miles solves the complex mystery and stops a plot to fragment the Cetagandan Empire into eight dangerously expansionist-minded parts. Then, much to his chagrin, he is publicly awarded the Order of Merit, one of the very highest Cetagandan honors, by the Emperor himself. He also picks up clues to a Cetagandan genetic experiment, which becomes the object of much skulduggery in Ethan of Athos.


Cetaganda was nominated for the Locus Award in 1997, the same year as Memory, the following book in the series.[2] It received mixed reviews, with The SF Site stating that it has "a good and delicious mystery at its core",[3] while a Tor.com review stated "I don’t find the Cetagandan political set-up very plausible, and worse, I don’t find it very interesting."[4] SFF.net stated that "All in all, this is certainly an enjoyable book, though not (Bujold's) best.[5]


  1. ^ "Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Mid-December 1995". Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2011-05-02.
  2. ^ "1997 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
  3. ^ Gerlach, Nicki (2011), The SF Site, "Cetaganda: Lois McMaster Bujold", accessed November 2, 2012
  4. ^ Walton, Jo (April 10, 2009), Tor.com, "Luck is something you make for yourself: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cetaganda", accessed November 2, 2012
  5. ^ SFF.net, Jan 9, 1996, Cetaganda, accessed November 2, 2012

External links

Aral Vorkosigan

Aral Vorkosigan is a fictional character appearing in American writer Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga series of science fiction books. Known throughout this universe as "The Butcher of Komarr", he dominates the imagination of the two main point-of-view characters in the Vorkosigan Saga, Cordelia (in Shards of Honor and Barrayar), who becomes his wife, and their son Miles. He appears, at least briefly or as an important if absent figure, in all the novels of the series except Cetaganda, Ethan of Athos and Falling Free. He also provides the narrative framework for the presentation of three short stories in Borders of Infinity.

Near the end of the series, he is considered on his native planet, Barrayar, “a colossus bestriding the last half-century of Barrayaran history” (“Winterfair Gifts”). His full title as of the end of Diplomatic Immunity is "Admiral Viceroy Count Aral Vorkosigan, Former Regent and Prime Minister of Barrayar." From the age of 11 until he is 44, his role is primarily military and expansionist; from 45 to 75, he dominates planetary politics; for the remaining years of his life, he and Cordelia administer the Barrayaran colony on the planet Sergyar, where they first met. He is depicted as a man of great integrity, an honest politician, a warrior who values human lives, and an egalitarian aristocrat.

Aral is described as being below average height, stocky and not particularly handsome, but projecting an aura of power and authority. The author of the novels has likened him to the actor Oliver Reed before he succumbed to alcohol.

Beguilement (novel)

The Sharing Knife: Beguilement is a fantasy novel by American writer Lois McMaster Bujold, published in 2006. It is the first book in the series The Sharing Knife.

Cetaganda (fictional empire)

Cetaganda is the collective name for an 8-planet empire in the Wormhole Nexus of the Vorkosigan Saga novels of Lois McMaster Bujold. Cetaganda contrasts with the empire of Barrayar, Beta Colony, and Jackson's Whole. It features heavily in the novel Cetaganda.


Cryoburn is a science fiction novel by American writer Lois McMaster Bujold, first published in October 2010. Part of the Vorkosigan Saga, it was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2011, as Bujold's ninth Best Novel nomination. Also in 2011, it was one of the top five finishers in the poll for the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

Diplomatic Immunity (novel)

Diplomatic Immunity is a 2002 science fiction novel by American writer Lois McMaster Bujold, part of the Vorkosigan Saga. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 2003.

Ethan of Athos

Ethan of Athos is a 1986 science fiction novel by American author Lois McMaster Bujold. The title character is Dr. Ethan Urquhart, Chief of Biology at the Severin District Reproduction Centre on the planet Athos, who is sent to find out what happened to a shipment of vital ovarian tissue cultures. Set in the fictional universe of Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, the novel mentions but does not feature her usual protagonist Miles Vorkosigan. To date, Bujold has never revisited the settings of Athos or Kline Station in her many subsequent novels, but the events of Ethan of Athos are later referred to indirectly in the novels Borders of Infinity (1989) and Cetaganda (1995).Bujold had written her first novel Shards of Honor and its sequel The Warrior's Apprentice — both unpublished — when she wrote Ethan of Athos, a standalone work that was purposely short "because the current cargo-cult rumor amongst the wanna-be-published back then was that editors would be more likely to read a short manuscript." All three novels were subsequently sold, and published in 1986.

Bujold named Athos, a planet founded and maintained as an exclusively male-populated colony with a planetary religion and ideology supporting this single-sex structure, after the Greek Mount Athos, which has prohibited the entry of women for religious reasons since even before the ban was officially proclaimed by the Byzantine emperor Constantine Monomachos in 1046.Ethan of Athos has been reprinted several times, and appeared in the 2001 Bujold omnibus Miles, Mystery and Mayhem alongside Cetaganda and the novella "Labyrinth". The novel was released on audio cassette in September 1999 narrated by Michael Hanson and Carol Cowan, and as a digital audiobook in March 2009 narrated by Grover Gardner.

Ezar Vorbarra

Ezar Vorbarra is a minor character in Lois McMaster Bujold's sci-fi series, the Vorkosigan Saga.

Ezar Vorbarra was the Emperor of Barrayar during the time of the novel Shards of Honor. His son, Crown Prince Serg, was killed during the Escobar War, leaving five-year-old Prince Gregor as the only direct descendent of the Vorbarra line. As a result of Ezar's death, and Gregor's minority, Aral Vorkosigan was appointed Regent of the Barrayaran Imperium till the end of Gregor's minority, when he would rule rightly as Emperor.

Ezar Vorbarra is historically important to Barrayar because of his direct involvement in ending Mad Emperor Yuri's Reign of Terror. Ezar, with the assistance of Count Piotr Vorkosigan, prince Xav Vorbarra and Vorkosigan's loyal army, overthrew the reigning Emperor, Yuri, to end his paranoid reign of terror.

Ghem (Cetaganda)

The Ghem are the lower aristocracy of the Cetagandan Empire in American writer Lois McMaster Bujold's science fiction series, the Vorkosigan Saga

The Ghem are the military caste and the lower aristocracy of Cetaganda. The main way for Ghem males to gain prestige and recognition is to serve with distinction in the military forces of the Empire (though not all Ghem males are in the army). For Ghem females, it is to perform genetic engineering on species other than humans with success (manipulation of human genetics is reserved for the ladies of the Haut).

A distinguishing feature of the Ghem is their use of face-paint. The exact usage depends on the individual's clan, status, and the activity they are pursuing. In particular, there are painting patterns associated with military missions.

In the novel Cetaganda, it is revealed that among the younger generation of Ghem, fashion dictates that the face paint is reduced to a painted patch on one cheek.

Haut (Cetaganda)

The Haut are the ruling and highest class aristocracy of the Cetagandan Empire in American writer Lois McMaster Bujold's science fiction series, the Vorkosigan Saga. They feature heavily in the novel Cetaganda.

Horizon (novel)

Horizon is a fantasy novel by American writer Lois McMaster Bujold. It is the fourth in the tetralogy The Sharing Knife.


Komarr is a 1998 science fiction novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. It is a part of the Vorkosigan Saga, and is the twelfth full-length novel in publication order. It was included in the 2008 omnibus Miles in Love.

Komarr (fictional planet)

Komarr is a fictional planet in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga series of novels and stories.

Discovered centuries prior to the Vorkosigan Saga, Komarr is undergoing a major terraforming project to make the outside air breathable. During this centuries-long program, the Komarrans are confined to domed cities, with controlled air supplies. The outside air is far too rich in carbon dioxide. The planet is also very cold, somewhat similar to Mars. At the time of the Vorkosigan saga, the most complicated life form outside the domes is a genetically modified peat moss. There is also a large orbital mirror, which increases amount of sunlight actually hitting the planet. The terraforming program, and the orbital mirror, are major plot points in the book Komarr.

Komarr has strategic importance because its local space contains the single known wormhole into Barrayar, the heart of the Barrayaran Empire. It is also a major trade nexus.

Capital City: Solstice.

Government: Komarr is ruled by the Barrayaran Empire, but has its own dominant class of oligarchs. The planet is divided into a number of equal-sized sectors, with responsibilities for regional government. Komarr is governed by the First Councilor, a position appointed by the Emperor that is equivalent in rank and responsibilities to the Viceroy of Sergyar. The plutocratic and nominal democracy is divided into two types of votes—one person, one vote—and "extra votes" that are granted to any settlers starting a new domed-city. These "extra votes" are inheritable and trade-able on a secondary market. The plutocratic oligarchies control the government by holding these extra votes. This system of extra votes becomes the basis of an attempted invasion by the Kibou-danii to wrest control of Komarr away from the Barrayarran Imperium.

Population: Many large domed metropolis-sized cities.

Economy: As Komarr controls at least six important wormhole routes (to Barrayar, Sergyar, Escobar, Pol and Cetaganda, as well as a few other minor jump points), much commerce passes through the system and is taxed. Komarr's economy is dominated by the oligarch families, whose large fleets are sent on trade runs (lasting 5–12 months) to many areas throughout the galaxy, often returning with very large profits.

Legacy (Bujold novel)

The Sharing Knife: Legacy is a fantasy novel by American writer Lois McMaster Bujold, published in 2007. It is the second book in the tetralogy The Sharing Knife.

Miles Vorkosigan

Miles Naismith Vorkosigan is a protagonist of a series of science fiction novels and short stories, known as the Vorkosigan Saga, written by American author Lois McMaster Bujold.

Piotr Vorkosigan

Count Piotr Vorkosigan is the father of Aral Vorkosigan and the grandfather of Miles Vorkosigan in the fictitious universe of the Vorkosigan Saga.

At the time of his death in The Warrior's Apprentice, Piotr's full title was General Count Piotr Vorkosigan as he was a general in the Barrayaran Military. He led guerrilla forces during the first Cetaganda Invasion at the end of the Time of Isolation. Largely because of his efforts and skills, the Cetagandans were driven back.

He is the 9th Count Vorkosigan and the first to die of old age. According to his daughter in law, Cordelia Naismith Vorkisigan, "Counts Vorkosigan have come to horrible ends throughout your history. You've been blown up, shot, starved, drowned, burned alive, beheaded, diseased, and demented. The only thing you've never done is die in bed."Shortly after the first Cetagandan Invasion, Piotr sided with Ezar Vorbarra to overthrow Mad Emperor Yuri.

Simon Illyan

Simon Illyan is a fictional character in the Vorkosigan Saga science fiction novels by Lois McMaster Bujold.

The Warrior's Apprentice

The Warrior's Apprentice is an English language science fiction novel by Lois McMaster Bujold, part of the Vorkosigan Saga. It was the second book published in the series, and is the fifth story, including novellas, in the internal chronology of the series. The Warrior's Apprentice was first published by Baen Books in 1986, and was included in the 1997 omnibus Young Miles.

Time of Isolation

The Time of Isolation was a period on the planet Barrayar in Lois McMaster Bujold's sci-fi series, the Vorkosigan Saga.

Vorkosigan Saga

The Vorkosigan Saga is a series of science fiction novels and short stories set in a common fictional universe by American author Lois McMaster Bujold. The first of these was published in 1986 and the most recent in May 2018. Works in the series have received numerous awards and nominations, including five Hugo award wins including one for Best Series.

The point of view characters include women (Cordelia in Shards of Honor and Barrayar; Ekaterin in Komarr, A Civil Campaign, and The Flowers of Vashnoi), a gay man (Ethan of Athos), and a pair of brothers, one of whom is physically handicapped and the other a clone (Miles and Mark Vorkosigan), their cousin (Ivan Vorpatril) together with some minor characters (e.g., Miles' bodyguard Roic and the runaway lad Jin).

The various forms of society and government Bujold presents often reflect contemporary politics. In many novels, there is a contrast between the technology-rich egalitarian Beta Colony and the heroic, militaristic, hierarchical society of Barrayar, where personal relationships must ensure societal continuity. Miles Vorkosigan, the protagonist of most of the series, is the son of a Betan mother and a Barrayaran aristocrat, embodying this contrast.

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