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Taltos by Steven Brust
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the story of how Vlad made some Dragaeran acquaintances and got his spell breaking gold chain, as well as walked the paths of the dead and brought back the heir to the Throne. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
“Pico review” written for the SF fanzine OtherRealms (SF review zine by Chuq Von Rospach, June 1989): A story set early in the career of Vlad Taltos, assassin -- the whole book is flashbacks, really. Each chapter begins with Vlad at work on a spell that actually concludes the story, then alternates scenes of his journey through the Paths of the Dead and anecdotes from his childhood and early career – his studies of sorcery and witchcraft, his training in weapons, the first time he kills, the first time he's paid to kill and the first time he kills with a Morganti weapon. Lots of light, comic touches, particularly in Vlad's comments to his jhereg familiar, Loiosh (watch for a Blake's Seven quote and a reference to the computer game "Adventure"). Sequel to Jhereg, Yendi and Teckla, it takes place before all of them and could be read first. A must-read if you have the other three. ( )
  SF_fan_mae | Jan 15, 2016 |
The fourth book in Steven Brust's Jhereg series continues the saga of Vlad Taltos, the human assassin (as well as an up and coming crime boss) in the alien world of the Dragaeran empire. I say continues, but in fact the main events of Taltos take place earlier than those of the first three books, and tell the story of Vlad's first meeting with Marolan, Sethra and Aliera - key characters of the first two books - and the journey which Marolan and Vlad make to Deathgate Falls and the Paths of the Dead.

What I particularly like about this series (apart from the character of Vlad himself of course, and his familiar Loiosh) is the way the books are structured. Book one Jhereg takes place when Vlad is established as a boss and married to Cawti, book two tells the story of how he met Cawti in the first place, book three takes place a couple of months after book one, and book four is earliest of all. No chronological order here! But as well as the timeframe of the main events, each book has at least one (or two) other storylines running through it with a different timeline adding complexity and interest. And each book drops little snippets of information about the events of the past that are picked up in later books, or hints of events to come in the future. It all adds up to the impression that the series of books were carefully planned out as a whole before the first one was written: whether that's true or not I don't know, but they certainly gives that impression. And so the reader's reaction to any set of events is frequently modified because they know how that character's relationship with Vlad will develop later, while assumptions from earlier books are challenged when the reader discovers more of a character's history

All in all I'm finding these books a great read and I'll be moving on quickly to the next one in the series. ( )
  SandDune | Oct 3, 2014 |
Book 4 of the ongoing Vlad saga. This one is more of an adventure story than the previous ones, as Vlad heads to the Paths of the Dead, which is supposed to be impossible, unless you are already dead. Vlad is really involved with some of the powers of the world now, including the gods. A bit different from the previous books, but it is clearly still a Vlad book. ( )
  Karlstar | Sep 2, 2009 |
A Dragon A Day: While Yendi examines Vlad's life shortly following the time when he had begun to establish himself as a serious player in the Jehreg mini-Empire, Taltos reaches even further back, weaving three separate plots - the beginning of his come to power, his expedition with Morrolan, and one mysterious spellweaving heading each chapter - into the fullest picture yet of his early life.
Beginning innoculously with a delivery theft by one of Vlad's henchmen, the story quickly involves Dzur Mountain - and its infamous undead inhabitant Sethra Lavode - along with Morrolan in Castle Black. It shortly becomes apparent this was a setup to get him to Sethra's quarters, to ask him to steal a very important crystal from a high wizard. Insane as it sounds, he has little choice, and when things go wrong at the last second, only a serendipitous find and Morrolan's quick entrance save him. But the ordeal is far from over, when an even more important ordeal awaits Vlad: A perilous journey with Morrolan into the Paths of the Dead to wake the soul trapped in the staff he took.
This is undoubtedly Burst's most mature work in the series to this point, giving up some of the manic energy and cockiness of the first in exchange for a much deeper look into the lives and souls of his heroes. Vlad never loses his snide sarcasm, but he does start to tone it down and put more thought into his dealings with powerful Dragaerans. Most of all, he finally begins to grudginly respect a few. The transition is both bumpy and natural, never plainly stated but obvious again his otherwise cavalier attitudes.
The book is also his finest technically, for while Yendi was an editorial mess, this continues Teckla's themes of emotional confict and redevelopment, in a more subtle way, while simultaneously mixing in a complicated and potentially disastrous device of interleaving two distinct yet connected stories, and a third above them all. And the last is how he succeeds, by leaving them independant yet somehow with relevance to each other; many passages will serve to shed an otherwise unseen corner of light on the other story immediately behind or following, and sometimes farther back, leading the reader to page back or ponder some old assumptions, some deliberately encouraged by the author.
The layers are what make the book memorable after its pages have been turned, thoughtful and roundaboutly organic just as Vlad's witchcraft is. As each chapter opens, a few paragraphs are excepted from the meticulously chaotic preparation casting of one final spell, the final climax that pulls threads from throughout the book into a single whole. The portions of the backstory that handle ground already trod in another book are often skimmed to concentrate on exposing more relevant details.
The book is most certainly a worthwhile read as long as a character-driven story with smooth pacing and imaginative action appeals to you.
2 vote iayork | Aug 9, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven Brustprimary authorall editionscalculated
Clark, Bernard SetaroNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craft, KinukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Some two hundred miles to the north and east of Adrilankha there lies a mountain, shaped as if by the hand of a megalomaniacal sculptor into the form of a crouching grey dzur.
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