The third Vlad Taltos book represents a darker, more serious turn in the series. Vladimir Taltos is a short-lived, short-statured Easterner (what we would call a human) in a world mostly populated by the long-lived, extremely tall Dragaerans. He is also an assassin and petty crimelord. His lifestyle and career require some difficult moral choices. When his wife Cawti joins an uprising of Easterners and peasant Dragaerans (the Teckla of the title), it causes a severe strain in their marriage, and Vlad begins to question those choices.
©1987 Steven K. Z. Brust (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
In this 3rd book in the series Vlad finds himself trying to take neutral sides. But when his wife is fully invested in the uprising he finds himself at odds with his wife. If he wants to keep her safe he must make a decision. While all this is going on he finds that the competition is trying to movie in on his turf. I enjoyed listing to Vlad try to juggle his personal life and his business life. As you've come to expect Bernard Setaro Clark's narration had the same quality as the first two books.
I was extremely disappointed in this book.
I very much liked the first two books in the series. There was action, there were twists, there were great plans slowly revealed, there were characters of power as friend and foe. I expected more of the same.
Instead I got a drawn out tale about how people change. Sure, there were a few strategy bits, but it was mostly a tale of a man realizing that the woman he is married to is not the woman he married. The secondary story is politics. There is also a fair bit about refusing to look at things from other points of view. There are no real twists.
The story was still well told. In fact, the segues were possibly the most interesting part of the book.
I felt cheated out of the time I invested in this book. Several other books in the series look promising, but I doubt I’ll read them -- this was just so far outside of what I expected that I have no confidence in the rest of the series.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Teckla is the third novel in Steven Brust’s series about Vlad Taltos, a human assassin who lives in the empire of Dragaera which is populated mostly by a species of long-lived tall humanoids who were genetically engineered by sorcerers and divide themselves into clans depending on their specific traits. In the first VLAD TALTOS novel, Jhereg, we met Vlad, an Easterner whose father bought the family into the nobility of the lowly house of Jhereg. Vlad, like many of the Jhereg, is a crime boss and controls a portion of the city of Adrilankha. In the second book, Yendi, we learned how Vlad met his wife Cawti when she was sent to assassinate him. He died but was revivified by his minions and married Cawti.
The Teckla of the title of this third book are the peasant clan of Dragaera. For generations they’ve been the down-trodden masses. But now they have a charismatic leader who is stirring them up and fomenting revolution. The Easterners have joined them and so has Cawti, Vlad’s ultra-competent wife. The revolution is causing some difficulties for Herth, one of the other Jhereg bosses and Vlad learns that Herth plans to murder the leaders of the revolution, including Cawti. Vlad is being pulled in multiple directions. He wants to please and protect his wife, and his heritage is Easterner, but he’s now a noble in one of the Dragaeran houses. What is a cold-hearted crime lord assassin to do? Kill people, of course.
For such a short book, there’s plenty of plot in Teckla — assassinations, investigations, revolutionary rallies, break-ins, kidnapping, torture, rescues. To emphasize the action, Brust titles each chapter with a snippet from the laundry list that Vlad Taltos must have compiled at the end of the adventure — “Chapter 3: And repair cut in right cuff,” “Chapter 4: One pair gray trousers: remove blood stain from upper right leg.” These cute chapter titles foreshadow the events in the chapter.
But the main focus of Teckla is Vlad’s insecurities about his own profession and lifestyle and his relationship with Cawti. Cawti wants to live her own life, but she’s heading into trouble. Vlad just wants to protect her, but she doesn’t want his protection. Vlad also doesn’t want to cause more tension between himself and the other nobility of Dragaera. The couple find themselves being pulled in opposite directions and starting to wonder how well they actually know and love each other.
I like the VLAD TALTOS series mainly because I like Vlad Taltos. I like his competence, his breezy but philosophical style, his thoughtful analysis of himself and others, and the amusing way he looks at life. In Teckla, Vlad is mostly feeling insecure and depressed, which is unusual for him (or so it seems to me after reading the previous two books). I enjoyed how he began to question his place in Dragaera and his thoughts about social status, the government’s role in society, the worship of causes and ideas, and the need for revolution. But because of his failing marriage, Vlad does a lot of brooding in this book. While it makes him feel human and sensitive (which is kind of nice for an assassin, I suppose), it’s not the Vlad Taltos we know and love and, frankly, it gets tiresome, and even annoying, after a while. I hope that Vlad will be back to himself in the next novel, Taltos.
I’m listening to Bernard Setaro Clark’s excellent narration of Audible Frontier’s audio version.
I am a person that tries and get through 1 book a week if possible. I am Dyslexic so this is really the only way I can get through a book. I have listened to more book in a year than I read my first 20 years of my life. I found the joy of audio books in the early 2000 and have been a audible customer since 2000 or 2001. I have over 490 books in 2 different accounts and listened to 90%.
The battle for his wife from the uprising. Great plot just not enough action for me in this book.
He brings the book to life
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