[LMB] What about Gregor? Redux

Gwynne Powell gwynnepowell at hotmail.com
Mon Feb 27 01:45:23 GMT 2012

> From: t_neill t_neill t_neill at hotmail.com
Some snips throughout for brevity> Someone pleaded for another subject, so here's one from a bit ago that got 
> somewhat lost in the Ivan discussion.
> So what about Gregor?

A wonderful topic - I love Gregor!
> When he was five years old, his father died, his grandfather died, he became Emperor. 
> Drou was taken away from him, he was caught up in extreme violence and then shunted 
> off to the back hills for months where he had to be quiet, quiet! QUIET!
> His mother died, his home burned down, and he was suddenly living with two people 
> he barely knew. (Though he did get Drushie back.)

He thought he was going to die too - which just added to all the stressors.

> Then Miles was born. From the time Gregor was five until he was ten, Miles couldn't 
> even walk. Then there were two years with Miles talking a mile-a-minute and getting 
> into all the trouble he could, before Gregor went off to boarding school at 12. 
> And then off to the Acadamy when he was 17.
But Miles could talk from an early age, and was amazingly manipulative.  I'm sure there
was a lot of interaction between the two - and apart from Elena and Ivan they didn't 
have too many other playmates.

> Oh, and when Miles was six the Vorkosigans moved back to Vorkosigan House. I suppose
> that was when Gregor went off to boarding school.  I can't imagine them either 
> leaving him in the Residence with only servants, nor moving him to Vorkosigan House.
> In that case, Gregor gets a whole one year with a mobile Miles. 
> He may have been glad to go!!  ;-)

Six or seven - the dates slide a bit. Gregor was four or five when Miles was born. 
And I don't see Cordelia abandoning Gregor all alone in the Residence - they stayed
until he went to boarding school, or he went with them to Vorkosigan House, I'm

> Cordelia had seven years to stuff her education into Gregor, and by all textev 
> she did a pretty good job (absent not telling him more gently about Crown Prince Serg).

Cordelia did a very fine job, all told. Considering the pressures and dangers, she
managed to turn him out sane, intelligent, thoughtful and dedicated. And he made
very few mistakes - only two large ones that we know of (ok, pretty large mistakes,
but most of us make some bad choices along the way, and if you're in charge of 
three planets the effects of your mistakes multiply.) 

> Gregor obviously feels the Vorkosigans are his family. He's Adamant in A Civil Campaign 
> that his foster brother will be his very public second at his wedding.  Both he and
> Miles view each other as foster brothers. I think Galeni says in Memory "you're 
> practically his foster brother" and Miles thinks in response "no practically about it".

Miles is also totally at home in the Residence. And not only did Gregor want 
Miles as his Second, but even after Miles blew up his own career, Gregor still
wanted to talk to him about marrying Laisa. 

> We don't see much of the internal Gregor in the books. He's just as reticent 
> in the stories as he is in person. He's an important part of both The Vor Game 
> and A Civil Campaign, but we don't get to see inside the man much.

And we'd love to see more...

> I wonder how much Miles sees inside the man? The Emperor is almost pathologically 
> repressed. He doesn't like his job much, even after he gets resigned to it after 
> The Vor Game. 

I think Miles knows him very well. Miles adores him as a big brother, as well
as respects him as an emperor. They're very close and comfortable together
in VG. 

Heck, he doesn't seem to like his life much, though the two are 
> hard to separate.  Note his conversation with Mark at Vorhartung Castle in 
> Mirror Dance. Resigned and duly dutiful, but not happy. Mark conveys more to the 
> reader about Gregor in his viewpoint scenes in Mirror Dance than Miles does in all 
> his scenes with Gregor. 
It's always interesting seeing the characters from other points of view. I think 
Gregor was more open to Mark because he was a substitute-Miles, while Miles
was missing. 

And note that when Ivan takes Mark to the meeting, Gregor has to dismiss
him three times before he goes. There's obviously some closeness between
the cousins, too.

> Gregor spent a large portion of his adulthood afraid of becoming like Mad Emperor 
> Yuri and Crown Prince Serg. He's still afraid of it in Mirror Dance. He's 35, 
> for God's sake, before he appears to stop being afraid of it, despite whatever 
> conversations he's had with Cordelia.

It must have been hard, the ones who suffered most from Yuri were all around
him, a constant reminder. And living all alone in that huge Residence, surrounded
by paintings and antiques... it's no wonder his own private office has no antiques
at all, and paintings by living artists. I love that little flicker of rebellion!

> We barely see affection between Gregor and Miles. Other than the virtual cream
> pastry fight at the end of The Vor Game, the only affection we see is Miles running 
> down the steps to hug Count Vorbarra in Winterfair Gifts.  

I think it's very strong in both of them, there's fellow-feeling because they both
live under the same threats, there's possibly a little jealousy from Gregor, that
Miles gets to go off and do amazing things so freely, there's a lot of care from
Gregor - after all, managing Miles isn't easy, and he keeps on accidently 
committing treason. And Miles understands Gregor very well, he loves his big
brother and adores his emperor. 

Gregor wanted Miles running Impsec - he trusts him, he wanted his own
generation around him, and he trusted Miles in one of the most important
jobs in the Empire.

> I actually admire Gregor very much. (And would love to read more of him!) He 
> spends a lot of his life afraid of his position and what might happen to his 
> reason but he gets on with it and works diligently at the duties he had no choice 
> but to assume for the greater good of the greatest number of his subjects. 
> And he CAN'T GET AWAY. He can never leave, never quit, never lay it down--the 
> events following his running away in his 20s showed him that. And he's got very, 
> very few people he can unburden himself with. Count Henri, Aral, Cordelia, and, 
> when he's home, Miles. Maybe a few others. I kind of doubt he unburdens to Ivan. 
> In A Civil Campaign he's visibly irritated when Ivan calls.
> I'm so glad Lois gave him Laisa!

All true! He's a complex and fascinating character. A lot of Ezar's ability with 
Cordelia's ethics and insight. 

But I think there's more of a support network around him. He has Henri Vorvolk, 
a long-time friend since school. And a circle of friends - Miles wonders if the
Imperial honeymoon will be spent at a property owned by one of Gregor's other
friends. There's also the discussion Miles has with Martya in ACC, when everyone
knows about Miles's courtship - I think Drou heard it from Gregor, so he's in
close touch with his inner circle. 

I'd like to know more of his interests. He doesn't seem to be into music greatly, 
but he loves reading. And modern art. I wonder what else he actually enjoys


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