Alys Vorpatril

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Name: Alys Vorpatril
Occupation: unofficial First Lady of Barrayar
Relationships: Ivan Vorpatril (son), Padma Vorpatril (husband), Simon Illyan (lover), Tej Vorpatril (daughter-in-law), Aral Vorkosigan (cousin), Miles Vorkosigan (nephew), Byerly Vorrutyer (colleague)
Fandom: Vorkosigan Saga
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Alys Vorpatril is a secondary character in the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold who serves as the female power behind the Barrayaran throne for much of the series. Introduced in the novel Barrayar, where she gives birth to Ivan shortly after her husband's murder during the Vordarian Pretendership, Alys appears in all subsequent novels set on that planet. She plays a particularly important role in Memory, in which she & former security chief Simon Illyan become lovers.


Alys is a well-liked character who is surprisingly popular in fanworks given her age.[1] According to the Crack Van overview:

She is the arbiter of good taste and propriety on Barrayar... She is sharply intelligent and allied to Aral and Cordelia’s progressive agenda, though generally far more conservative. Her political and social influence among the High Vor cannot be overstated, though (as a woman) she holds no formal position and most Vor Lords consistently underestimate her.[2]

Beatrice Otter describes the young Alys during Barrayar as a strong, smart woman who is determined to survive.[3]

Gen fanfiction often explores her friendship with Cordelia Vorkosigan, and her behind-the-scenes female networking with Cordelia, Laisa Vorbarra, Ekaterin Vorkosigan & others. Other popular topics are the questions of why she fails to remarry, and how she came to be the imperial hostess. Alys appears as a minor character in numerous Ivan stories, often attempting to persuade him to marry, and her bride search for Gregor Vorbarra often comes up in Gregor works. Another popular topic is how she became Byerly Vorrutyer's ImpSec contact, sometimes complicated by the popular Ivan/Byerly pairing.

Her autumnal romance with Simon was well received and dominates pairing-centric stories. A little fiction explores her marriage to Padma, and there are a few works that pair her with Aral Vorkosigan, either unrequited or in AUs where Cordelia never appears on Barrayar; Serg Vorbarra is another occasional partner. Other pairings are rare.

Authors noted for their Alys-centric fanfiction include Philomytha, whose prolific Simon/Alys series has popularised the pairing. Alys is not a particularly popular character in fan art.

Example Fanworks




Other Pairings

Fan Art


Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.


  1. ^ As of June 2016, 236 works are tagged 'Alys Vorpatril' on Archive of Our Own, the second highest female character after Cordelia Vorkosigan (422 works)
  2. ^ "crack-van: Vorkosigan Universe: An Overview". Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  3. ^ "crack-van: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle by Philomytha (General Audiences)". Retrieved 1 July 2016.