The 18th novel (after 2010's Iorich) in Brust's sprawling Dragaera fantasy series is a wonderful return to form, setting assassin hero Vlad Taltos in a contest of wits and wills against imperial guard captain Khaavren, the formidable protagonist of 1992's The Phoenix Guards. On the run from his former employers, the Jhereg, Vlad swings back into town for a surreptitious visit to his family and finds himself wanted all over again by Khaavren, who is chasing a magical silver statue of a tiassa. A cat-and-mouse game ensues, full of plots, counterplots, unlikely disguises, swordfights, and mistaken identities. Fans will love the full cast of favorite characters and the resolution of longstanding plots and mysteries, and like most of Brust's books, this witty, wry tale stands well alone and is very accessible to new readers. (Apr.)
Formerly a highly skilled assassin and racketeer for House Jhereg, the long-lived Vlad Taltos (Iorich), changed by circumstances, now flees the House he once served and immerses himself in the political and social machinations of the noble and powerful. When he comes across an artifact, a silver figurine known as a tiassa, the delicate object will play a significant part in his life—as the center for an elaborate sting operation, a tool for the Empire to use against its enemies, and as a lure to trap Taltos. The dialog-driven story features witty conversational exchanges that push Brust's plot to its usually surprising conclusion. VERDICT Series fans will anticipate this new chapter in Taltos's life, and new readers may want more.
From the Publisher
“A wonderful return to form... Full of plots, counterplots, unlikely disguises, sword fights, and mistaken identities. Fans will love the full cast of favorite characters and the resolution of longstanding plots and mysteries, and like most of Brust's books, this witty, wry tale stands well alone and is very accessible to new readers.” Publishers Weekly
“Steven Brust may well be America's best fantasy writer.” Tad Williams
“No mere plot summary can describe accurately the fun and adventure that naturally seem to follow Vlad Taltos.” VOYA
“Brust is incapable of writing a dull book.” Booklist
Read an Excerpt
The first time I saw the tiassa was nine Real Years before I was born. Mafenyi was holding it, and it was so pretty! When I saw it again, two hundred Real Years earlier, I had to take it so I did.
I didn’t think Mafenyi would mind too much. She hadn’t made it to keep. She told me that she made it because she had to, but it shouldn’t ever stay with anyone for too long. She used silver that came all the way from Aelma, which is a city on the Chareq River near some mountains called Daeld, which is where the silver was found in the ground.
Mafenyi said she melted the silver in a cauldron made of light, and she cut off her hand and put it in the cauldron, and plucked out one of her eyes and put that in, too, and then shaped it while it was still hotter than hot. She worked on it for years and years, so the ears would be so perfect, and you could see candlelight through the wings; she put tiny sapphires in for the eyes. I asked her how come she still had both hands and both eyes, and she said she was a Goddess and so she grew them back. She said I could be a Goddess if I wanted to be, and I said my grandmother was a Goddess and it didn’t seem like much fun.
When we were done talking I went away, but then I came back. I wanted to just look at it some more, but she was sleeping, and that’s when I knew I had to have it, so I took it from her shelf.
It wasn’t big, but it was so heavy I had to hold it in both hands. I went back home and just held it and looked at it, but I got fingerprints on it so I cleaned it off, and then wrapped it in cloth. I kept it in the cloth after that except when I wanted to look at it.
There was a woman named Chuvin. She was an Athyra, and she was very nice. I thought she should have the tiassa, so I left it in her house, then I went off to see a new world being made, which was very exciting.
When I got back, I went to look at the silver tiassa, but Chuvin didn’t have it anymore. She had made some very pretty psiprints, though, and I got to see them. She gave me one of Yevetna Falls that’s so good you can almost get wet looking at it. Mommy said that first, but I think it’s funny and true, so I’m saying it now. I asked Chuvin what she did with the tiassa, but she said she didn’t know, it just got lost somehow.
It wasn’t hard to find it, though. When you looked in what the Necromancer calls the other place, it was like a big white light, with two blinking blue thingies. I saw it right away, and followed it because I wanted to know where it was, and really I just wanted to see it again. It isn’t hard to follow something in the other place, but it’s hard to talk about. It’s like painting when you don’t have paint, or singing when there’s no song, or talking when there are no words. I can’t explain. Anyway, I followed it.
It was an old man who had it. He was a Lyorn and his name was Pindua. He made statues from big pieces of marble. I got to hold the tiassa for a little while, but then I left it with him. He made one called “Worill Reclining on Stairway” that they put in the Hall of Monuments in the Imperial Palace.
A little while after he made it he died and they brought him to the Paths of the Dead. He owed a lot of money when he died, and when that happens they sell all your things to try to pay the people you owe money to, so the tiassa was sold to a man named Paarfi who was a Hawk and who wrote books.
I didn’t think about it for a long time, but then I remembered it one day a year later, which was almost three hundred Real Years later. I looked for it, and Paarfi still had it. I went to talk to him about it. He talked about what he was writing. He was a nice man.
I told him he should give the tiassa away, and he agreed, but said he wanted to keep it a little longer, until he finished his new book. I said that was okay, and he gave me one of his books and signed it for me. He wrote, “To Devera, a very special little girl.” I took it to Grandma’s and put it in the chest with my things, next to the seashell that whistles “March to the Kaanas” and the psiprint of Yevetna Falls and the tick-ticker and some other stuff I want to keep.
While I was there, Grandma asked me what I was doing, and I said I was looking for the silver tiassa and she asked what that was so I explained where it came from. She asked some questions about it, but she had the look she gets when she’s being nice and doesn’t really care about what you’re telling her, so pretty soon I said good-bye and ran off.
I went to a place called Tanvir where it was just spring and there were flowers in all the colors there are. After that, I went to an empty tower in a dead city and a man made of metal played music for me. After a while, I started wanting to see the tiassa again, so I went back to fifty Real Years later, and Paarfi still had it. I thought it was long enough, so I took it but left him a note, then I went to Adrilankha ten Real Years ahead and played with Vlad Norathar. I showed him how to look in the other place, and he showed me how to make a spinnystick with glitters.
Then I was tired from all the jumping around so I put my spinnystick in the chest and took a nap. Mommy says naps are good for you, but I only take them when I’m sleepy. When I woke up again I found Daddy and showed him the tiassa and he said it was very pretty. I asked if he was ever going to come visit me and Mommy and he said he would soon because he wanted his sword back. He looked angry when he said it so I didn’t ask about it any more. While I was there Mafenyi came up and said I shouldn’t have stolen the tiassa and had to give it back and Daddy told her not to accuse me of stealing but I said I had just borrowed it to give to some people who needed it. They started arguing with each other so I left and took the tiassa with me.
I started to Mommy’s but then a while later I looked in the other place, and saw Mafenyi was coming after me. I hadn’t thought she wanted the tiassa that much. I thought about jumping, but then I could never come back to now. I didn’t want to go to Grandma’s, because then she would fight Mafenyi and I’d feel bad, and if I went to Mommy’s I’d have to explain what I did.
So please, Uncle Vlad. She’ll be here soon. Can you take it?
Copyright © 2011 by Steven Brust