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Biology and MannersEssays on the Worlds and Works of Lois McMaster Bujold$
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Regina Yung Lee and Una McCormack

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621730

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621730.001.0001

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date: 02 August 2021

‘What you need is a liege lord’

‘What you need is a liege lord’

Futuristic Feudalism in The Warrior’s Apprentice

(p.171) ‘What you need is a liege lord’
Biology and Manners

Sarah Lindsay


This chapter looks at Lois McMaster Bujold’s use of medievalism, specifically at how Bujold uses feudalism in her Vorkosigan science fiction novel The Warrior’s Apprentice as a bridge between past and future. In constructing Barrayaran politics, Bujold simplifies feudalism by only showing us the basic chain from emperor to Vor nobility to armsman. She also presents an Imperium that, over the course of a century, has broken the power of the Vor nobility (as happened in late medieval and early modern France) and is moving towards a more parliamentary form of government (as happened in late medieval and early modern England). The chapter thus shows how Bujold’s feudalism is simplified from medieval European feudalism and, in terms of its history, is beginning to move beyond the medieval period. Nevertheless, as the chapter concludes, on Barrayar the bonds of mutual obligation created by feudalism remain crucial, as does the centrality of military protection and service.

Keywords:   Lois McMaster Bujold, The Warrior’s Apprentice, Vorkosigan, Feudalism, Science fiction, Medievalism

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