The latest of Vlad Taltos books has finally reached our hands and if my husband and mine’s reactions are anything to go off of… it is about time! We love Steven Brust’s style of writing due to the fact the characters are not stock characters. Vlad is so much more than just a character, he has true emotions along with a wit that seems to get him into trouble one way or another. But, Mr. Brust also does not make the struggles of the characters abstract; we know exactly what is going on with the characters as they themselves voice their frustrations or at least voice to their familiars their frustration.
Another thing which makes these books absolutely fantastic is the world in which he places his characters. It is not your Tolkien fantasy world, nor is it your Camelot, it is its own creature. Speaking of creatures, while he may borrow from our world, none of the creatures which are in his books are anywhere near anything that has been made as of yet. The latest of his books, Tiassa, is a continuation of a series which he has written which references a cycle that the characters deal with, but which are also actual creatures which can be found in this world. A Tiassa, for example, is a tiger type of cat with wings (examine the cover for a better idea). There is also Jhereg, which just happen to be our main character’s familiars; these are venomous lizards with wings.
This particular story comes in three parts, the first part is told by our dear Taltos and takes place back in time from the other books to when Vlad has just bested fate and not only stayed alive, but also became engaged to one of the assassins who had been sent after him. The story is a very typical Taltos story in which he runs a small part of the town and while owning a few businesses has a problem arise which could risk his status of living. He comes up with an ingenious plan which at the end of the story works perfectly, but we are only told parts and pieces of it as they are need to know. The bantering between characters and his familiars is hysterical at times and dumbfounding at others.
The other two sections of the book take us back to the style which is found in the Khavreen trilogy where the storytellers is a historian. While this can become quite dry at times the strange colloquial keeps one from wishing to put the book down. For while it is from a historians point of view there is much action and especially mystery. For some, like myself, the question of how true are these facts we are being told. Especially when it comes to addressing characters we have been introduced to in other of his books. For example, there is a scene in which Vlad Taltos is speaking with another and the speech patterns which are given to him are definitely not the same ones we recognize from the first part of the book. That unrealistic telling lends us the uncertainty of how events actually took place and with the first part can lead us to put things together differently than how the historian is putting them together.