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Jhereg by Steven Brust
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1,356295,677 (3.99)1 / 153
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    The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (thegryph)
  2. 00
    Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick (ow1goddess)
    ow1goddess: Some similarity in basic plot elements and the tone of the first-person narrator.

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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
When a council member of the Jhereg's has stolen 9 million, Vlad Taltos is called in to take him down. But it's not going to be an easy task when he finds out that his target has taken refuge in one of an untouchable castle.
Trickery needs to be done, and he's on a clock.

I enjoyed this book in the sense that it was a very quick, easy, and fun read. It didn't have much substance besides introducing a new world with its specific quirks and rules. But discovering a world is always fun.

This is a particularly fun world because it holds both favorite tropes and new ideas alike. There are factions, each with their own specific trait. I love this sort of stuff because it gives rise to all sorts of underhanded politics and undercurrents.
Also, death is viewed in a particularly different way. Very interesting (more on this later).

I have a lot of problems with the book though- not massive ones, but enough to give me the impression that this book wasn't up to par.
First, the side characters. For goodness sakes, his familiar is basically a servant that is told to shut up every other time he is talked to. And the poor creature used to call him Mommy. Or his wife. Or Daymar. All of them are just convenient and powerful characters with no depth to help him execute his oh so brilliant plans.

Second. The massive reveal. I literally was chanting to myself, no not revenge. Don't make the reason revenge. Not something that stupid. Surely this guy Meller who hoodwinked three Houses has a grander scheme than just that! But.... Nope. Wow. I am not impressed. It was not a brilliant plan. It was an obvious one.

Third. Not amused at the reveal of Vlad's heritage. It seemed like a twist that was there just to give you a shock but didn't actually have a point. Maybe it's setting up the scene for future books, but here it was rather like... Okay. Cool. There's another reason you're special. It makes me regret it a little because I always prefer the main character to win or succeed based on his or her own merits, rather than a prophecy or genetics.

I think that's the basis of the story. It tries to be impressive with schemes and plots, but the actuality of it all is quite mundane. Perhaps I would have enjoyed this book far more when I first started reading fantasy novels. Maybe I am just jaded by tropes and cannot see the brilliance of the story. Who knows.

But my absolute favorite part of this world is the death perspective. Wow. I've never seen it treated so cavalier. Absolutely fantastic. Makes assassins seem more plausible than other worlds because death can just be a warning, no biggie. Brilliant.

I also loved his wit. There are some moments I just had to stop and grin and how clever some of the lines were. My favorite might have been:

“She smiled at me. We were all friends here. Morrolan carried Blackwand, which slew a thousand at the Wall of Barrit’s Tomb. Aliera carried Pathfinder, which they say served a power higher than the Empire. Sethra carried Iceflame, which embodied within it the power of the Dzur Mountain. I carried myself rather well, thank you.”

I am not that entranced by this book. Sure it was fun and quick and there are parts that I really loved, but I don't need to learn more about him or this world. I probably won't pick up the sequels unless bored out of my mind.
2.5 stars rounded up. I liked it. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
Reread Feb2012, review added.

I originally gave this 4 stars, although I've read it numerous times & really enjoyed it. I just never thought it had any redeeming features beyond sheer enjoyment. Now that I've read most of the rest of the series, I see on a re-read that the craftsmanship of this story demands another star.

This is not the first book in the chronology of the series, but it is the first published. Why should you read it first? Because the author couldn't have picked a better way to introduce the reader to an entirely new world & mythology. The story demands our likable anti-hero, Vlad Taltos, look deeply into another character. His search uncovers more than expected & gives us an understanding of the world that we never would have had otherwise. Not only is it entirely entertaining & fast moving, but I had no trouble at all remembering odd names & characters. Each comes alive in a way that sticks in the memory, with a depth that is incredible for the terse wording. Not just the main characters either, although there were most of a dozen of those alone. It's truly an amazing feat.

Now I REALLY want to go on to the next book, [b:Yendi|817357|Yendi (Vlad Taltos, #2)|Steven Brust|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1302450419s/817357.jpg|1058], but I have other commitments - damn! ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
DNF at 76%.

No, really. I don't. I tried. It starts off amazingly and I was all set for a great read, but then it quickly became something else completely. This is pretty boring, actually. And convoluted. It's one scheme after another after another. There's a whole lot of discussion about that's going to happen, but I have just the one life. I'm not gonna waste it waiting for shit to actually happen. Things that I like in a book are seemingly present, but it still didn't work, because this book is a mess. Don't ask me to explain the plot, because I dunno.

This came highly recommended, so I felt obligated to continue, but I just couldn't anymore. You know it's bad when you can't even finish out the last 24%.

This is a DNF for now, but it's not outside the realm of possibility that I will one day (one day far away) pick this up and try again. But don't hold your breath. You'll die.

( )
  JennyJen | Aug 14, 2014 |
Vlad Taltos is a human assassin working for the House of Jhereg. Near the start of the book, he receives a very difficult and unusual contract for a former member of the Jhereg Council who ran off with nine million of the House’s funds. What follows is a twisty puzzle set in a strange and sometimes confusing world.

Overall, I enjoyed Jhereg, but I had real trouble getting into it. For one thing, I wasn’t expecting the sort of story I got. The cover and blurb make it out to be what I think of as “boy finds dragon book.” In fact, the dragon (well, dragon like creature), Loiosh, plays a relatively small role in the story, and I didn’t care for his voice. Chirpy side-kicks who refer to the main character as “boss” tend to get on my nerves.

However, my main problem was adjusting to the world itself. The book drops the reader into a completely different setting with little to no information. Early on, I figured out that there were two species: humans (referred to as Easterners) and Dragaerans, but I knew little else until after the first half of the book.

The biggest difficulty I had was picturing the Dragaerans and understanding the house system. From the beginning, the only physical description of the Dragaerans is “tall,” which doesn’t tell me how much they differ from humans. It doesn’t give a complete reference to how they compare to humans til after page hundred. They’re basically elves – tall, no facial hair, pointed ears, long lived, otherwise look like humans.

Pretty much all the other animals are fictional species as well, and descriptions of them are usually not given. In addition, characters are described in connection to the fictional animals. E.g. “She moved as gracefully as a dzur” or “her eyes were as soft as an iorich’s wing.” Labeled illustrations of all the animal life and characters or a guide at the beginning would have helped a lot. About midway through, I posted some questions about the animals on my reading journal in the Green Dragon on LibraryThing and was directed towards this immensely helpful guide which outlines what each animal is and what is associated with them. If you plan on reading Jhereg, I highly recommend taking a look at the guide.

Then there was the house system itself. By page hundred, I had an inkling that houses were connected to professions, but I still didn’t really understand the system. Again, I probably wouldn’t have figured it out if it hadn’t been explained to be by someone familiar with the series (of which this is the first book…).

As it turns out, all Dragaerans are titled nobility who belong to one of the twelve houses, which are all named after the animals found in the guide above. Different houses have different associations. The Jhereg are criminals who run gambling rings and brothels. The Dragons are soldiers and place a huge emphasis on honor. The Teckla are peasants and lowly regarded by the majority of characters. A cycle exists whereby each house has control of the empire for a certain period of time before conceding it to another, and the house in charge controls the source of the Dragaeran’s magic.

It’s obvious that Steven Brust took a lot of thought and care into building this world. From the fauna to the history, the details are astounding, but they can also be confusing and are not well explained. However, I’d guess that all sequential books will be easier reading since I’ve already adjusted to the world.

I didn’t feel any great connections to the characters, but they were passable. Going in, I was worried about the depictions of female characters – fantasy books of the early 80′s don’t have so great of a track record – but I had no reason to be worried. The gender divide of the book is roughly equal, and female characters play as important a role in the plot as male characters. When I read the author bio at the end, I realized that he’d named one of them after his daughter Aliera, which I find sweet.

I would only recommend this book to veterans of fantasy literature. The confusion of the first hundred pages was frustrating enough for me, and I’m familiar with strange fantasy names and settings. But if you can make it through the confusing beginning, the story proves worth it. ( )
  pwaites | Jun 4, 2014 |
I was pretty sure I was going to like this, since some people whose taste I trust have mentioned it to me before. (The whole series features in Jo Walton's series of posts on Tor.com/in her collection of those posts in book-form, and was one of the ones from the list I made while reading it that I have underlined several times as a priority.) Still, I wasn't sure enough, so I only ordered the first omnibus, which contains the first three books. Ten chapters in, I ordered the rest. Unfortunately, I've had them sent to the wrong address, so I am pondering how to pace out reading Yendi and Teckla so that I don't finish them before I am, one way or another, in the same place as the rest of the books.

At the same time as noting that I loved this book, I will add that knowing a bit about this series to begin with helps. Like, knowing that so much of the series was planned in advance, appreciating the fact that it all plays with time... And knowing people I like love it makes me inclined to extend it some credit. Still, I did very much enjoy it for itself. It's nice that there's a whole complicated background to discover in time, over the course of the series, and that Brust avoids any unnecessary info dumps. I did feel a little bit expositioned at, a couple of times, but it was in Vlad's voice so it still worked.

Very interested to see where this goes, how Vlad develops, and how various things that I know about from reading mild spoilers in reviews come about. And now, onto Yendi. ( )
1 vote shanaqui | May 10, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven Brustprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clark, Bernard SetaroNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hickman, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There are many ways to advance in the world. Vlad Taltos chose the route of assassin. His qualifications:quick wits & sword, a smattering of witchcraft & his constant companion- a young jhereg, its leathery wings and poisonous teeth always at Vlad's command, its alien mind psionically linked with his own. . .
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Collects the first three adventures of the swashbuckling assassin Vlad Taltos and his smart-mouthed reptile familiar Loiosh.

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