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Orca by Steven Brust
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Orca is set a year or so after Athyra. Most of it from the perspective of Vlad's friend Kiera, with the exception of chapters in which Vlad fills Kiera in on what he's been up to.

Kiera is Vlad's oldest friend, and I've always felt like she didn't quite fit in somehow - she doesn't belong to Vlad's other groups of friends and her involvement was always peripheral rather than central.

She doesn't give much away, but what she does is - fascinating. She's sort of my favourite character now. (Sort of.)

Orca is a convoluted mystery with some unexpected twists. Probably one of my favourites in this series.

“Well,” I said slowly. “Congratulations, Vlad.” He looked at me and waited for the punch line. I said, “You’ve now not only got the Jhereg after you but also the Empire, and, as soon as they tie you to the documents we stole, the House of the Orca will want you, too—and me, by the way. That leaves only fourteen more Houses to go and you’ll have the set. Then you can start on the Easterners and the Serioli. Good work.”
“It’s a talent,” he said. “I can’t take credit for it.”
( )
  Herenya | Jan 18, 2017 |
I actually enjoyed this more than most of the previous Vlad books. Maybe because Vlad was a side character? Anyway, typical light fluff. The ending, which I'm sure was supposed to be a huge surprise for hardcore fans, just left me feeling like so what?"." ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
A Thoroughly enjoyable read. Vlad is right on target, a bit wiser, a bit quieter, a bit more introspective. In his quest to help Savn, a young Teckla boy who was injured helping Vlad, he find a lady who can help... for a price. She wants him to help her figure out how to stay on her land. This leads Vlad (and the trusty thief Kiera)on complicated scheme of shell business that if would break, would bring down the entire empire.

It takes a skilled author to write about something as mystifying as finances... and it Steven Brust has managed to do it. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Feb 26, 2012 |
In which Vlad Taltos investigates the death of a banker: This highly entertaining comic fantasy novel is the seventh by publication order, and eighth in chronological sequence, in the story of Vladimir Taltos. It follows on shortly after the sixth book, "Athyra." Vlad's attempt to obtain a cure for a young man who was injured saving his life in "Athyra" leads him into the attempt to unravel the secrets around the mysterious death of an Orca financier. This book also contains important plot revelations affecting the rest of the series.

If you have not previously read any of Steven Brust's "Vlad Taltos" novels or "Khaavren" romances, they are all set in a world of magic, where there are several intelligent species, including two types of men and women. Humans like ourselves are usually referred to as "Easterners," the other type of men and women call themselves humans but are usually referred to in the books as "Dragaerans" or occasionally as Elves.

All Dragaerans belong to one of seventeen "Great Houses" named after animals of the fantasy world in which the novels are set. Nine of the ten novels to date featuring Vlad Taltos, including "Orca" are named after one of these great houses, usually also featuring a member of that house in a prominent role: if Steven Brust is planning to write a novel for each house we are about half way through the series.

Most of the great houses also have a preferred occupation. For examples: "Dragons" and "Dzurlords" are soldiers, "Tecla" are peasants, "Chreotha" are merchants, "Orcas" are sailors, pirates or - wait for it - bankers, and "Jhereg" are gangsters or assassins.

Most members of House Jhereg are also involved in "the organization," which is the equivalent of the mafia. The hero, Baronet Vladimir Taltos, is an assassin and minor sorcerer, who used to be a prominent member of House Jhereg but is now on the run from the organisation after developing an unfortunate case of principles. Vlad has a companion and familiar, Loiosh, who is an actual Jhereg - that is to say, he is a small intelligent flying reptile - and Vlad is also accompanied by Loiosh's mate, Rocza.

Taltos narrates most of the stories with a wonderful dry wit which is one of their best aspects. In "Orca" the story is being told by Vlad's oldest friend, Kiera the Thief, to his separated wife Cawti. Sometimes the story is told from Kiera's own perspective, but for most of the book she is quoting Vlad.

The books are not written in a regular chronological sequence. For example the fourth published novel, "Taltos" is a prequel set before the main action of any of the others, while the eighth novel, "Dragon" is mostly set just after "Taltos" but jumps to a few weeks after "Yendi" for the conclusion.

Many of the Vlad Taltos novels contain either flashbacks to much earlier events, references to much later events, multiple timelines, or all three. "Orca" has one of the simpler timelines in the series, in that you get the story in rough chronological sequence as Kiera told it to Cawti.

This book includes a critical plot revelation for the series as a whole, as Vlad finds out the real identity of one of the most important characters in the series. Brust has obviously been setting this up from the start, because there are events in novels written a decade before "Orca" which make more sense when you have read this book. Further, Brust does not always remind you in later books about this real identity, so you need to read "Orca" beforehand to make sense of some events in later books such as "Issola" and "Dzur".

There is also a rather moving scene between Vlad and Loiosh: usually their relationship consists of a constant stream of insulting banter, but in "Orca" there is a scene in which Loiosh is badly injured and you get an insight into another side of the relationship.

Make sure you read to the end because another important revelation comes in the very last sentence of the book.

You will get most out of the Vlad Taltos books if you read them in something close to the "official" order. My recommendation would be to start with either the first book written, "Jhereg" or the chronologically first book, "Taltos."

Here is a list of the books in publication order, with the chronological place of the main action of each book in brackets after:

1) Jhereg (4th)
2) Yendi (3rd)
3) Tecla (5th)
4) Taltos (1st)
5) Phoenix (6th)
6) Athyra (7th)
7) Orca (8th)
8) Dragon (2nd)
9) Issola (9th)
10) Dzur (10th).

If you enjoy the Taltos novels, you might be interested in another sequence of books which Steven Brust has set in the same country, but quite a few centuries earlier. These are something between a parody and a homage to the novels of Alexandre Dumas (Junior). He's called them the "Khaavren Romances" after the central character of the first two novels, who corresponds very closely to D'Artagnan.

Obviously none of the human characters overlap, but some of the Dragaerans do: Khaavren himself meets Vlad Taltos very briefly in the book "Tecla" and his current role in the Empire is described in a sort of offstage cameo in this book, "Orca." Two of the major characters in the Taltos novels, Sethra Lavode and Lord Morrolan of Castle Black, are also important enough in the Khaavren novels to have books named after them.

The five Khaavren romances, in sequence, are

1) "The Phoenix Guards" (equivalent to "The Three Musketeers")
2)"Five Hundred Years After" (equivalent to "Twenty years after")

Then a trilogy "The Viscount of Adrilankha" (e.g. "The Count of Monte Cristo") which comprises

3) The Paths of the Dead
4) The Lord of Castle Black
5) Sethra Lavode

Overall I found both the "Taltos" novels and the "Khaavren Romances" very entertaining: I recommend both series and this book.
  iayork | Aug 9, 2009 |
I really enjoyed reading from Kiera's perspective. She is definitely one of my favorite Brust characters. Why do like the assassin and thief so much more than anyone with a reasonable job? I think this finally explains why I dislike Sethra - she's like the antithesis of Kiera. I wonder though how she can deal with being separated from Iceflame? I am also still wondering what the background is between Sethra and Vlad in his past-life? I'm surprised how much I've enjoyed these books about Vlad that are written from other points of view. ( )
1 vote hannah.aviva | Feb 26, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This is one of the ones I loved straight away.
added by r.orrison | editTor.com, Jo Walton (Dec 3, 2009)

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven Brustprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cabral, CirueloCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clark, Bernard SetaroNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Masters, AngeleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In memory of my brother, Leo Brust, 1954 - 1994
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My Dear Cawti:
I'm sorry it has taken me so long to answer your letter, but the gods of Coincidence make bad correspondents of us all; I am not unaware that the passing of a few weeks to you is a long time - as long as the passing of years is to me, and this is long indeed when one is uncertain - so I will plead the excuse that I found your note when I returned from traveling, and will answer your question at once: Yes, I have seen your husband, or the man who used to be your husband, or however you would describe him.
Vlad knew almost at once that I was in disguise, because I told him so.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441001963, Mass Market Paperback)

Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos novels are wildly and deservedly popular. Here Vlad--wanted all over the Empire, and trying to elude capture--aids a young boy who saved his life and probes the secrets of the House of the Orca.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:23 -0400)

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