[LMB] Being Betan

Gwynne Powell gwynnepowell at hotmail.com
Mon Jun 12 12:09:10 BST 2017

Catching up ... gradually.

Just a quick comment about Aral's Betan grandmother:
I don't think you can blame her slightly less than enthusiastic attitude about Barrayar on Barrayar alone.

She married during the Cetagandan invasion. We don't know when she arrived
on planet - we know Xav was mustering support off-world for some of the time,
but his children were on Barrayar by the time they were adults because the girls
both married Barrayarans. Aral was born about six years before the invasion ended,
his brother was a few years older, so they must have been on Barrayar for at least a
decade of the invasion, (and I can't imagine her sending the children into a war zone
and not going with them.)

Then after a few years of blessed peace her children and most of her grandchildren
were massacred, and they had a few more years of war. Then came Ezar's reign,
with a rocky beginning and constant threats of attempts from other claimants to the

She was left with two grandchildren and a lot of graves. And constant fear that it
could happen again.

Under the circumstances I'm not surprised that Aral's memories are of a rather
unhappy woman. She must have felt so lost and alone, losing most of her family in
a strange and savage world. But most of it wasn't Barrayar's fault: the invasion
certainly wasn't, and Beta's help was all that kept the war going. As for Yuri; he's
so different in those letters to Xav, I'm wondering if there was some nasty Ceta
virus that sent him crazy later.

Cordelia certainly rails against Barrayar, but she has power and position, she's
happy to stay within the Empire for the rest of her life, she's done good work there.
And much of her attitude is Betan superiority that she'd probably feel towards just
about any non-Betan world, in one form or another. Even though she never did
fit in on Beta and would be totally miserable if she went back there.

I have to say that the attitude of foreign wives to Barrayar is a lot more accepting
than the attitude of Haut wives married to Ghem; even though they're still within
their own culture we see bitter resentment there. One tried to tear the whole
Cetagandan Empire apart, and another was still seething after a century.

Which would be better: to be an outsider wed to a Barrayaran, or a Haut woman
married to a Ghem lord?

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