Verra, Vlad's patron goddess, hires him to assassinate a king whose country lies outside the Dragaeran Empire, resulting in increased tension between the two places. Meanwhile, the peasant Teckla and the human Easterners persevere in their fight for civil rights. As Vlad's wife Cawti is a firm partisan of the movement, and Vlad is not, their marriage continues to suffer, causing Vlad to make some decisions that will change his life forever.
©1990 Steven Brust (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Initially, Phoenix was to be the point at which Steven Brust would go on hiatus from the Vlad Taltos character; that didn't happen, but the finalized tone for many plot points in the series thus far still shines through.
One of the stronger entries in the Vlad Taltos series to this point, Phoenix provides a good endpoint to the front end of Vlad's ideals, beliefs and relationship with House Jhereg, while setting up for a promising, soul searching future for the series.
Vlad is just as devilishly charming and smart mouthed as we've come to expect in the series, but we also see a very welcome time of self doubt and a fair amount of instances of seeing a softer side to the character; particularly when dealing with Cawti, his wife, or Noish-Pa.
Noish-Pa also shines through rather surprisingly in this entry, getting a fair amount of character development compared to his earlier involvement in the series. Cawti and her band of revolutionaries, meanwhile, takes somewhat of a backseat compared to their part in Teckla.
The involvement of the gods in this universe also gets some light shed onto it, showing us just how involved a god is willing to get in the lives of mortals.
The writing for Phoenix is as strong as it usually is, while providing a plot more balanced between action and emotion than did the emotionally dark Teckla; Vlad having come more to grips with the status of his relationship with Cawti. Bernard Setaro Clark continues to deliver his fantastic performance and characterizations.
This entry is at least on par with Jhereg, which I feel has been the strongest entry in the series so far. Those looking for something new from Vlad Taltos will enjoy this transition to the next part of his life.
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