|Title/Rank:||Her Imperial Highness|
|Relationships:||Serg Vorbarra (husband), Gregor Vorbarra (son), Ezar Vorbarra (father-in-law), Vidal Vordarian (lover), Drou Droushnakovi (bodyguard)|
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Kareen Vorbarra is a minor character in the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold. She is unlucky enough to be the wife of the monstrous Crown Prince Serg, as well as the mother of Emperor Gregor. She only appears in the novel Barrayar, becoming collateral damage in Cordelia Vorkosigan's Shopping Expedition during the Vordarian Pretendership.
Beatrice Otter explains that Kareen knows how to survive and endure, and though she is scarred by her experiences with her husband, she is still a courageous woman ...no matter what happened to her she was strong, and smart, and unbroken and these characteristics have endeared her to many readers. Considering her minor role in the series, Kareen is a relatively popular in fanworks. Her tragic history means that much fanfiction focusing on her is very dark, dealing with issues such as rape, spousal abuse, abortion, attempted murder & infanticide. 'Prince Serg' is a fandom-specific warning. Her relationship with Ezar Vorbarra is the subject of some works. Some stories take a more political slant; one topic is her attitudes towards Aral Vorkosigan & Vidal Vordarian as potential regents, in the context of her hatred for Serg's friend & Aral's old lover Ges Vorrutyer. There is a little lighter fiction that focuses on her relationship with Gregor and her bodyguard Drou Droushnakovi. Her canonical friendship with Drou is sometimes developed into an intimate relationship; rare femslash partners include Alys Vorpatril & Cordelia Vorkosigan. Kareen – particularly her death – is also a plot point in several Gregor-centric stories.
Meta often addresses similar topics to fanfiction, including Ezar's protection of Kareen, and her motives in entering into a relationship with Vordarian. Kate has drawn parallels between Kareen & Ekaterin Vorsoisson: both widows who were in abusive marriages, both scarred by their experiences and unenthusiastic about the idea of remarrying, both very protective of their sons, both damaged by the traditional social expectations for Vor women, both use extreme calm and reserve as a defense mechanism...
Her beauty & quiet dignity make her a particularly popular subject for fan art, which depicts her both alone and with young Gregor. Some art gives Kareen an oriental look.
Gen & Canon Pairings
- Second Son by jmtorres. Widely recommended dark backstory explaining Gregor's name (2007)
- A Leap in the Dark by Musigneus. A take on how Kareen married Serg (2011)
- Lullaby by Philomytha. Kareen with Drou & Gregor; about as fluffy as Kareen-fic gets (2012)
- Prisoner by Avanti_90. Kareen & Alys; part of an AU in which Serg is not killed at Escobar (2012)
- Dancing the Woman by nnozomi. A rare story to address Kareen's life before Serg (2012)
- Champion by Philomytha. Kareen & Aral, after Serg's funeral (2012)
- The Sorcerer's Ghost (The Champion Remix) by Avanti_90. Remix of Philomytha's story; uses the bodyswap trope to make Kareen & Aral understand each other better (2013)
- Poison by Minutia_R. Understated short featuring Kareen, Gregor & Serg (2013)
- Protection by Glishara. Kareen/Drou short (2010)
- If and When by Ollipop. Kareen/Drou (2013)
- Slowly, You Cleave To Her by Amoama. Kareen/Alys (2013)
- Kareen Vorbarra by Gemmiona. Digital art portrait (2010)
- Kareen and Gregor Vorbarra by Jubah/Croclock. Seated Kareen with young Gregor; illustration of a scene from Barrayar; cartoon-style digital art (2015)
- Kareen Vorbarra and Gregor Vorbarra by Jubah. Kareen holding baby Gregor; oriental-style digital art (2015)
- Simple but perfect. by Heckofabecca. Seated half-length portrait (2015)
- A thin, strained-looking woman of thirty with elaborately dressed, beautiful dark hair, though her grey gown was of a simple cut by Heckofabecca. Portrait (2015)
- She lay like a prisoner. by Heckofabecca. Nude; illustration of scene in Barrayar (2015)
- Princess Kareen and tiny Gregor in #59! by Heckofabecca. Seated Kareen holding young Gregor (2016)
- Kareen Vorbarra by Croclock. Portrait with a slightly oriental look (2016)
- fancake: Vorkosigan series: Second Son by jmtorres (accessed 30 June 2016)
- crack-van: A Leap in the Dark by MusIgneus (M) (accessed 30 June 2016)
- kareenvorbarra: if you let me i will tell you all about parallels between Kareen and Ekaterin... (accessed 30 June 2016)