Vlad is a human easterner that has the ability to do some witchcraft. He summons a Jhereg (small dragon the size of a cat with human like intelligence) and receives an egg. Vlad bonds with the Jhereg and they have a mental bond. Vlad sales his fathers restaurant to become an assassin working for Dragaerans (they live for thousands of years and have several unique ability's of their own). There's a twist in this world just because you're killed doesn't mean you're really dead, people can be brought back to life.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
There is nothing heavy or terribly intricate about Brust's creation--just a diverting tale set in a well constructed world with characters it is easy to cheer for. Often it is predictable, but it never lags or confuses. Sometimes inconsequential fluff is a wonderful change of pace when it is served with sufficient style and good humor and a sizable helping of clever repartee.
I am coming to this series late, but now that I have found it, I know where to go when I just need a lighthearted fantasy adventure/mystery as a break from a grueling foray into the likes of Brandon Sanderson or Cormac McCarthy. Satisfying in very different ways.
I'm an engineer that took all my electives in English and Art! Fantasy novels with moral depth and colorful worlds fill my library.
Exciting, funny, clever
Loiosh, Vlad's jhereg familiar, consistently adds the wise crack to a situation that already has the reader grinning. He is quick witted, clever, and provides for a reasonable dialog even when Vlad is alone, or internalizing. I have read the paperbacks until the covers have worn thin, but i still laugh at his quick witted remarks.
I thought he did a great job with Vlad, and all of the main characters. I wasn't thrilled with Loiosh's accent, but after reading it for so long, its unlikely to hear all the voices the way the performer does them. In all, he is very talented, and I'll listen to this over and over.
This book is good--but the series is fantastic. The main character is a short-lived human in a world where hulking "elves" rule over them as less-than-equals. Vlad's way of working the organized crime angle, being a witch, an assassin--and still being the hero in the tale makes this a very unique read. Some books from your teen years don't hold up over time--this one is just as entertaining now as it was then.
I buy long books--short books are annoying to figure it all out just to have it end. There are LOTS of these books in the series...so the story just keeps going, you don't have to keep starting over! Prequels and sequels--I think this one is in the middle somewhere.
I don't listen to audio books more than once. I also don't often read books more than once. I've read this book and knew my husband would like it, so we listened to it together. He was blown away and I found myself enjoying a story I already knew.
The voice acting is superb, especially the psionic whisperings of Vlad's sidekick, Loiosh.
Clark's reading is everything you want it to be--well-paced, distinctive voicings without overacting, unobtrusive and yet layered with appropriate cadence and nuance.
Don't miss this!
This book was an enjoyable tale, the series starts off deceptively simply but layers complexity with each subsequent story.
I really do like Vlad's character and the character development is well done throughout the series.
The naration when i first started to listen i thought was pretty average but after listening for a short while you find that the naration is all pretty good throughout with good variation between characters and a style that sucks you in!
I really enjoyed the humour throughout this book and the full series and have let out a few belly laughs in otherwise quiet locations.
I would thoroughly recomend the book and the rest of the series
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
If that is a genre, Steven Brust's first Vlad Taltos novel, Jhereg (1983), is a progenitor. Vlad Taltos, the hardboiled but sensitive first person narrator, is a 21-year-old assassin-spy security-chief crime-boss skilled with blades, conversant with poisons, expert with witchcraft, and bonded with a telepathically impudent but faithful familiar, a dragon-like scavenger jhereg named Loiosh. Humans like Vlad are a second-class minority in the City of Adrilankha among the dominant Dragaerans who possess life spans lasting thousands of years, tall bodies (7-foot average), and elvish features. The Dragaeran empire is at least 250,000 years old and is divided among 17 Houses named after and sharing the traits of dragons, hawks, jheregs and other animal species of their world. Despite being a human, Vlad is successful in the "business" wing of House Jhereg, and he has powerful friends in House Dragon. He has killed 41 people, but most of them deserved it and were revivified (as he himself has been), and there's always reincarnation, so we don't feel TOO uncomfortable about his profession.
In the first chapter, Vlad is hired by a high-ranking House Jhereg Council member to find an ex-Council member who just embezzled and absconded with nine million imperials. If he isn't killed within a few days, House Jhereg, founded on projecting a tough criminal image throughout the Empire, will become permanently and devastatingly known as a soft robbery target. Where is the culprit hiding? What is his background? What is he really up to? To have any chance at solving the mystery, Vlad will need to call on his friends and minions, experts in thievery, psionics, spying, magic, assassination, and the like.
It seems at times as if Vlad is writing a history/handbook for young would-be members of his profession, because he says things like, "And so, my fledgling assassins, you are asking me how you make sure that a corpse remains a corpse, eh?" and he begins each chapter with a pithy line of advice:
"There is no substitute for good manners, except fast reflexes."
"Always speak politely to an enraged dragon."
"No matter how subtle the wizard, a knife between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style."
As we read this novel, we learn about the history of Vlad, the Empire, and a few of the Houses, the nature of human witchcraft and fencing versus Dragaeran sorcery and heavy blade work, the assassin profession, and so on. The short book packs an impressive number of concepts, like the "Morganti," semi-sentient soul-eating blades a bit like Elric's Stormbringer but divided up into a host of daggers and swords of varying degrees and types of power, sentience, and ability, the greatest of which bond with the souls of their wielders and decide whether or not to eat their victims' souls. Although Jhereg is a self-contained story, Brust leaves plenty of room for future and past developments in succeeding novels with the different Houses, magic, religion, Vlad's friends, familiar, and identity, and (I hope) the difference in human and Dragaeran life spans. Vlad mentions things like a Dragaeran "girl" being "only" between 100 and 800 years old, but never how he feels to be short lived relative to the Dragaerans. None of his Dragaeran friends and colleagues ever mentions how young and soon to die Vlad is compared to them. Aren't they already missing him? Aren't they bored with their long lives? Why doesn't anyone talk about this kind of thing?
Brust's people speak much contemporary American English: "What's up?" "Let's get out of here." And "Take it easy." That makes the strange world feel familiar, but often the writing sounds corny or flat, as when Vlad says, "Crap. Double crap. Dragon dung." Or "The question at that point wasn't should I press, or even how much I should press. It was rather how should I press. I decided to continue the game I'd started." There are some funny lines, though, as when Vlad's familiar Loiosh disparages cat petting: "Hey boss, isn't it disgusting how some people cater to the whims of dumb animals?" Vlad's self-directed irony is often funny, too, as when he gives "general pointers on assassination" like "Do not have yourself teleported so that when you arrive at the scene, you are feeling sick to your stomach."
Reader Bernard Setaro Clark's Dragaerans all speak a soft pseudo-British accent, his humans straightforward American English, though his Vlad has a nearly irritating tendency to elongate his long vowels: "Seven inches of blaaaade." I do like Clark's Peter Lorrie-like Loiosh: "Can I eat him, boss?"
In its genre fusing, humorous dark fantasy, Jhereg points the way towards series like the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. It is an entertaining novel, with exciting action and a world of great potential, but this first book in the series is not SO funny, stimulating, or stylistically rich.
As you listen, you get to experience Vlad putting all the pieces together, and there is some beautiful plot craftsmanship unfolding here.
I really enjoyed Kragar, Vlad's partner and right hand in his assassin dealings. Kragar is intelligent, and a bit snarky, making all of the interactions between him and Vlad really entertaining to hear.
The voices are superb and bring an added dimension that I don't typically add as a reader.
It was a bit slow in the beginning, so not initially, but once the action really got going I wanted to find out what happened sooner rather than later.
Jhereg remains one of Steven Brust's best works, and that does manage to come through on the audio version, but Bernard Setaro Clark evidently didn't much follow the pronunciation guide that Mr. Brust provides in his books. Plus, his "accents" for Morrolan and Loiosh leave something to be desired.
That said, his "Vlad" voice is good, and the story is still extremely engaging. Worth listening to, just beware of the reader.
different than usual fantasy
good but neeeds a bit more umph james marsters has it all
hard to folow when listening in short stints. some names with M too similar maybe just me not having the time to listen for long periods
New grandpa. Married 35 great years. Drink Batch 19,Tsing Tao, and Bohemia. Read Card, King, Hobb, Sawyer, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction.
SMILING COMES FROM THE EARLY FORM OF SHOWING YOUR TEETH.
Unlike one of the other reviewers, the cover of the books drew me to this. I also knew he co wrote a book with Robin Hobb. Maybe I am prejudice, but I find most of the fantasy of the 80's and before to be very lacking. I always have trouble connecting with the characters in these early fantasy novels. I should have enjoyed the relationship between the main character and the dragon like character, but little was done with this. There were several attempts at humor and I got the jokes, they just were not funny. It might have been the narrator. He didn't seem to have much expression in his voice. If this had been written today, I would have gone on about over doing the assassin type story, but since it predates Brent Weeks and others I can't say that.
This has gotten lots of good reviews by reviewers with huge followings, but if you share my taste, I have to say No to this book. I have been spoiled by Robin Hobb, Stephen King, Jean Auel and the early Orson Scott Card, pre 1990.
IF I HAD WANTED HIM TO KNOW THE RULES, I WOULD HAVE WRITTEN THEN OUT.