Brothers in Arms
Goodreads ratings
4.21 / 5

"Brothers in Arms" Summary

By Lois McMaster Bujold

science fiction | 338 pages | Published in NaN

In the wake of unexpected planetary peace and the disappearance of the Dendarii payroll, mercenary captain Miles Naismith attempts to discover the link between the insufferable Captain Galeni and the Komarran rebel expatriates. Reissue. AB.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

Miles Vorkosigan struggles with identity, loyalty, and duty as he navigates a complex web of political intrigue and war.


In "Brothers in Arms" by Lois McMaster Bujold, readers are taken on an action-packed journey through a futuristic universe filled with political intrigue, moral dilemmas, and complex family dynamics. This science fiction novel is part of the beloved Vorkosigan Saga, a series that has captivated readers with its compelling characters and thought-provoking themes. "Brothers in Arms" continues the saga by delving deeper into the life of Miles Vorkosigan, a charismatic and resourceful protagonist who must navigate a web of betrayal and deception while facing his own personal demons.

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in a distant future where humanity has colonized various planets and formed a complex political system known as the Vorlakialan Empire. Miles Vorkosigan, the protagonist, is a military officer and a member of the Vorkosigan family, a powerful and influential noble family. However, Miles was born with physical disabilities due to a failed assassination attempt on his parents during his mother's pregnancy. Despite his physical limitations, Miles is incredibly intelligent and driven, making up for his physical shortcomings with his quick thinking and strategic abilities.

In "Brothers in Arms," Miles finds himself caught in the middle of a covert operation gone wrong. While on a mission to infiltrate a criminal organization known as the Jacksonians, Miles discovers a shocking secret that could jeopardize his family's reputation and the stability of the empire. As he races against time to uncover the truth, Miles must also confront his own identity and come to terms with the choices he has made.

Main Characters

Character NameDescription
Miles VorkosiganThe charismatic and resourceful protagonist, born with physical disabilities but compensated by his intelligence and strategic abilities.
Mark VorkosiganMiles' clone brother, raised in secret and involved in the covert operation.
Ivan VorpatrilMiles' cousin and trusted ally, a military officer with a laid-back personality.
Gregor VorbarraThe Emperor of the Vorlakialan Empire, a young ruler with his own set of challenges and responsibilities.
Elli QuinnA member of Miles' covert operations team and a skilled soldier.


Chapter 1-5: The Covert Operation

Miles Vorkosigan is assigned to infiltrate the Jacksonians, a criminal organization known for their illegal activities within the empire. Miles goes undercover as a mercenary named Miles Naismith and successfully gains their trust. However, during a mission to recover stolen artifacts, Miles discovers a shocking secret – his clone brother, Mark Vorkosigan, is involved with the Jacksonians.

Chapter 6-10: Betrayal and Deception

As Miles delves deeper into the covert operation, he uncovers a web of betrayal and deception. Mark reveals that he was forced to join the Jacksonians as part of a secret plan orchestrated by their mutual enemies. Miles must now find a way to extract Mark from the criminal organization and expose the truth.

Chapter 11-15: Family Matters

In his quest to save his brother, Miles reaches out to his cousin Ivan Vorpatril for assistance. Ivan, though initially hesitant, agrees to help Miles and the two devise a plan to rescue Mark. Meanwhile, Miles must also confront his own family's secrets and the impact they have on his identity.

Chapter 16-20: Unraveling the Conspiracy

As Miles and Ivan execute their plan to rescue Mark, they uncover a larger conspiracy that threatens not only their family but the entire empire. The truth behind the covert operation is revealed, exposing the extent of the deception and manipulation within the Vorlakialan Empire.

Main Events

  1. Miles infiltrates the Jacksonians and discovers his clone brother's involvement.
  2. Miles and Ivan devise a plan to rescue Mark from the criminal organization.
  3. The truth behind the covert operation is revealed, exposing a larger conspiracy.
  4. Miles confronts his own family's secrets and grapples with his identity.

Themes and Insights

"Brothers in Arms" explores themes of loyalty, identity, and the consequences of deception. The novel examines the complex dynamics within families and the lengths individuals are willing to go to protect their loved ones. It also delves into the moral dilemmas faced by the characters and the choices they make in the face of adversity. Additionally, the book raises questions about the nature of power and the corrupting influence it can have.

Reader's Takeaway

Readers of "Brothers in Arms" will be captivated by the intricate plot, well-developed characters, and thought-provoking themes. The novel offers a thrilling blend of action, suspense, and emotional depth, keeping readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. Bujold's skillful storytelling and ability to tackle complex themes make this book a must-read for fans of science fiction and those who enjoy exploring the intricacies of human nature.


"Brothers in Arms" is a compelling addition to the Vorkosigan Saga, offering readers a thrilling and thought-provoking journey through a futuristic universe. With its engaging plot, well-drawn characters, and exploration of complex themes, this novel is sure to leave a lasting impact on readers. Bujold's masterful storytelling and ability to blend action, suspense, and emotional depth make "Brothers in Arms" a standout in the science fiction genre.

Brothers in Arms FAQ

  1. What is 'Brothers in Arms' about?

    'Brothers in Arms' is a science fiction novel by Lois McMaster Bujold that follows the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan, a military genius and covert intelligence operative. In this book, Miles finds himself in a parallel universe where he must navigate political intrigue and unravel a complex mystery.

  2. Is 'Brothers in Arms' part of a series?

    Yes, 'Brothers in Arms' is part of the 'Vorkosigan Saga' series by Lois McMaster Bujold. It is the fifth book in the series, but can also be enjoyed as a standalone novel.

  3. Do I need to read the previous books in the series to understand 'Brothers in Arms'?

    While 'Brothers in Arms' can be read as a standalone novel, it is recommended to read the previous books in the 'Vorkosigan Saga' series to fully understand the character development and ongoing storylines.

  4. Who is the main character in 'Brothers in Arms'?

    The main character in 'Brothers in Arms' is Miles Vorkosigan, a witty and resourceful military genius. He is known for his strategic mind and ability to think on his feet, making him a captivating protagonist.

  5. What genre does 'Brothers in Arms' fall under?

    'Brothers in Arms' is a science fiction novel with elements of adventure, political intrigue, and military strategy.

  6. Are there any notable awards or recognition for 'Brothers in Arms'?

    Yes, 'Brothers in Arms' won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1990. It has also received critical acclaim for its engaging plot and well-developed characters.

  7. Is 'Brothers in Arms' suitable for young readers?

    'Brothers in Arms' is generally recommended for mature readers due to its complex themes and occasional violence. Parents or guardians may want to review the content before recommending it to young readers.

  8. Where can I purchase a copy of 'Brothers in Arms'?

    You can purchase 'Brothers in Arms' from various online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or directly from the publisher's website. It is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

  9. Are there any other books in the 'Vorkosigan Saga' series?

    Yes, the 'Vorkosigan Saga' series consists of multiple books by Lois McMaster Bujold, including 'Shards of Honor', 'Barrayar', 'The Warrior's Apprentice', and many more. It is a popular and beloved science fiction series with a rich universe.

  10. Is 'Brothers in Arms' a standalone story or does it end on a cliffhanger?

    'Brothers in Arms' is a standalone story that wraps up its main plotlines by the end. However, as part of a series, it does hint at future events and leaves room for further exploration of the characters' lives.