The book of Jhereg is something of a detective story in the midst of a fantasy world of dragons, elves, and of course humans. It follows the antics ..Show More »of wise-cracking assassin Vlad Taltos and his dragon-like companion, called a jhereg, in the Dragaeran city of Adrilankha. Vlad Taltos is human; he is also a mobster and assassin and is the narrator of the book; for those familiar with the Dresden Files, he loosely reminds me of Harry. Jhereg is book one of a series in which the writer, Steven Brust creates a very credible fantasy world. Originally published in 1983, I was curious to hear how it would sound in audio format and was pleased; I thought the narrator, Bernard Setaro Clark, gave a good performance bringing the characters to life. I would recommend this series for those who like this type of genre.
This is the second book in the series but it takes place before the first. It gives you more in-depth background to all the characters you know from t..Show More »he first book. Bernard Setaro Clark does a great job narrating, he brings the characters to life and will leave you wanting to hear more from him.
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 a..Show More »t 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.
In the 4th installment of Vlad's adventures he finds himself on the Paths of the Dead. We also find out how Vlad got a hold of Spell Breaker (the chai..Show More »n he carry's that will dispel magic that is thrown at it). As we all know every assassin must have a first job and we get to see how Vlad began his carrier.
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 ..Show More »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.
Initially, I thought this entry in the series would be subpar without Vlad himself as narrator, but that misconception quickly evaporated. Although ha..Show More »ving a new point of view is jarring and doesn't get much better through the experience. The story seems a bit clunky because of the new view as well, but it is fun seeing "vagabond Vlad".
Vlad returns after several years of silence in his timeline, he alludes to several adventures he's had in the interim, one involving the disfigurement of his hand. He's a changed man, but just as snide as ever.
We meet Vlad again through the eyes of a young Teckla, Savn. Savn has had little exposure to Easterners and is not quite sure what Vlad is all about, particularly when one of the townsfolk turn up dead shortly after Vlad's arrival.
This all culminates in an interesting character piece. We see where Vlad has ended up after years on the run, and how far he is willing to go to ensure his safety. Even if it means messing up a lord or two.
As always, Bernard Setaro Clark is fantastic with his reading, but he maintains a higher pitch through most of the story to fit with the young Teckla who is telling us the story; it can get a bit grating after a time, especially when said Teckla seems to be fairly clueless about how most of the world works.
As this book switches perspectives between two characters, the decision to split the performance between Mr. Clark and Mrs. Masters was great. With Be..Show More »rnard's well established Vlad laying the foundation, Mrs. Masters 'Keira the Thief' takes off.
To those who I believe would enjoy Brust's Vlad Taltos series (those I've not already suggested it to), I might recommend the audiobook, but really I'..Show More »d lean more to recommending the novel.Maybe after having read the novels in this series, the voices, tone and inflection used, just seemed off. This was most notable with Morrolan, and especially for Kragar. The droll, sort of stuffy voice just didn't seem to fit for the banter between them and Vlad. Everyone else worked okay, but these two important characters just didn't work, and detracted from the story for me.
In Dzur, the tenth book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series, Vlad is finally back in the city of Ad..Show More »rilankha. I suspect that most fans will be thrilled to return to that decadent cosmopolitan city; it’s just so much more interesting than watching Vlad roam around the countryside. Fittingly, each of the chapters in Dzur is named for one of the items Vlad is served at his favorite restaurant during a gourmet meal that runs parallel to the main plot of Dzur. (Vlad, an assassin by trade, is quite the foodie and, while he dines, he often points out the analogies between preparing a gourmet dinner and preparing to make a hit.)
So, he’s back in Adrilankha eating with a new Dzurlord in his favorite restaurant and telling us what happened just after the events of the last book, Issola (which you’ll want to read first, I think). Vlad now owns a great weapon and is learning more about what they are and how they work. He’s back in the city because he finds out that his wife Cawti, who he’s been separated from for years, is having trouble with the “Left Hand of the Jhereg,” an group of women who Vlad calls the “Bitch Patrol.” They are adversely influencing Vlad’s old organization — the one he’s been running from all these years. Now, to protect Cawti, he’s willing to take his chances and shows up to straighten things out. Of course, he’ll need a little help from a couple of new friends and all his old friends, including some he hasn’t seen in quite a long time.
It’s great to see Vlad back in his element — swaggering down the streets of Adrilankha and dining in his favorite establishment. Unfortunately, a lot of the plot of Dzur is actually watching Vlad swagger down the streets of Adrilankha and dine in his favorite establishment, which turns out to be not all that interesting after a while. The plot moves awfully slowly and sometimes seems disjointed, especially when Vlad starts talking about how he thinks the goddess Vera has been messing with his memories.
But, still, it’s always fun to listen to Vlad and Loiosh talk — they’re genuinely funny — and there are a couple of promising new characters added to the mix and there’s another big life change for Vlad. Dzur isn’t one of the better books in the VLAD TALTOS series, but it will still probably satisfy Brust’s fans. As always, Bernard Setaro Clark is brilliant with the narration of the audio version which is eight hours long and produced by Audible Studios.
Tiassa is really three separate stories each with relevance to past books; it fills in some loose ends bringing more clarity to past stories. The la..Show More »st part of Tiassa is about the title and also fills in some gaps from a previous story line but also brings us back to the present. Most of Steven Brust’s stories are told in first person with the main character Vlad Taltos as the narrator; Tiassa is told mostly in third person having other characters tell the tale. I believe this gives the series a little more depth and for one book I found the dialogue and the perspective interesting; but I would miss Vlad’s humor and charm if he were not back for the next book in this series. I would highly recommend reading/listening to the other books in this series before using a credit on this one as there are too many references to past books. I have listened to the entire series and having read some of the earlier books long ago would heartily recommend the audio version. Bernard Setaro Clark is a true professional and a great narrator.
“My heart gave a thump. It had been doing that a lot lately. I wished it would stop. I mean stop giv..Show More »ing random thumps, not, you know, stop.” ~Vlad Taltos
Note: This review contains spoilers for previous novels in the series.
Hawk is Steven Brust’s fourteenth (and latest) novel about Vlad Taltos, a charming assassin living in Dragaera. Over the past 31 years, fans of this series have been through a lot with Vlad and Loiosh, Vlad’s flying reptilian familiar.
We first met Vlad when he was at the top of his game, running the Jhereg criminal organization of Adrilankha. Then he married Cawti, who also used to be an assassin but later became a social revolutionary. The change in her worldview was too much for the marriage to handle and they separated, but that didn’t stop Vlad from betraying the Jhereg in order to save Cawti from being executed. The Jhereg want revenge and have been hunting Vlad for years while he wandered around the Dragaeran Empire. Meanwhile Cawti gave birth to Vlad’s son, which he didn’t know about until later.
Now, Vlad wants his life back. He wants to return to his city and be able to visit his son (now eight years old) without worrying about the safety of his son, Cawti, or himself. So Vlad hatches a plan to make peace with the Jhereg. He thinks he has discovered a new form of sorcery that he can offer to the Jhereg — something that will make them rich and powerful — in return for their promise to call off his assassination. Will it work? Or will he just expose himself and get killed?
After watching Vlad brood for a long time, it’s great to see him come out in the open, face his fears, take charge of his destiny, and once again become the smart assassin he used to be. It’s great to be back in Adrilankha among Vlad’s friends and associates (including a couple of interesting new characters). For these reasons, Hawk feels more like the earlier novels in which Vlad was witty, clever, and full of life. His voice is once again breezy and ironic, and he’s fun to listen to, even when he’s just walking down the street….
…which is fortunate since Vlad does a lot of just walking down the street in this story. Until the very end, the pace is slow and leisurely, but that’s okay since it’s actually amusing just to listen to Vlad bicker with Loiosh, or wish he had a name that starts with “The,” or lament that his cloak doesn’t billow dramatically when he walks down the street.
I’m glad Vlad’s back. I’m not sure when we’ll see the next VLAD TALTOS novel, but I look forward to it. I listened to the audio versions of this series which were produced by Audible Studios. Hawk is almost 9 hours long, though I increased the playback speed as I usually do. Bernard Setaro Clark is an excellent narrator and this is one of those cases where I enjoyed the book more because of the reader’s performance. I wouldn’t think of reading these any other way.