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The Book Of Taltos (2002)

The Book of Taltos (2002)

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4.27 of 5 Votes: 2
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0441008941 (ISBN13: 9780441008940)
penguin putnam berkley ace trade

About book The Book Of Taltos (2002)

"I sometimes wonder if my entire adult life has been spent in an effort to avoid dirty dishes. One could, I suppose, have worse goals" p 7. Smiles are reasons to read, not really criminal not-hero. "Ummm" p 21 blunders, "I never have understood" why grandad insists no blood sacrifice to gods p 41 bring him down to earth, more believable. On both quests he is unwilling, forced. Confusing on many levels. Vlad is "human", Easterner, Jhereg, therefore shunned. If Dragaerans are from House of Dragon, one of 17, all long-lived, otherwise different physically, culturally, geographically, why is "Dragaeran -- an Orca and probably a seaman .. pretty old .. at least a couple of thousand years" p 49? Dragaerans beat up Vlad since he was a kid, so he hates them all. Except two.Morrolan and Sethra have Great Weapons. #4 they apologize for trick to meet, repeatedly save lives. By #5, fast friends. So he transfers hate to Empire, he says. Yet he tries to save Empress and negotiates peace with enemy. Orb, source of sorcery magic, rotates above head of Empress, protects her, shows by color Vlad "telling truth" p 306, but Empress knows he prevaricates. Vlad is philanderer in #4, but in #5, he bemoans rejection of wife Cawti. Italics are also for conversations with Loiosh, fatally venomous jhereg on shoulder. Why not just say dragonet? Imagine my rant. 2002 Pronunciation Guide 1-pg is mostly proper names. Level of wit "Shut up" p 6. Loiosh comforts, helps - diversion, weapon. Is foretelling intended to encourage buying sequels? Rather annoys. #4 Aliera "less than a thousand years old" p 146 and Vlad both "seemed to recognize" p 147 Kieron "old as the Empire" p 146. #5 Devera toddler with gran Verra hides from Aliera "Mama see me .. might upset things" p 378. Sudden changes from #4 to #5. Vlad from philanderer to lovelorn rejected husband. Dragonet Loiosh has mate Rocza. No wonder doesn't matter whether read in order of chronology or publication. 4 Taltos Jumps around present, past, drags out single spell to escape Halls of Death. Girls are either a continual stream of names, diversion where narrator Vladimir Taltos wasted high assassin wages, or the one to save the world, Aliera. Weak, but stubborn, she will not leave without Morrolan despite his willingness to stay, sacrifice life forever. Neither will Vlad, after they save each others' lives repeatedly. Italicized paragraphs about spell preparation and following sleep precede main text, which diverts into biography of narrator. Maybe intended to compress tension. Rather sucks oomph like balloon deflating. Past is important for friend Kiera to train in thief skills and ask him to keep small vial of goddess blood on neck cord. Grandpa Noishe-pa teaches him witchcraft, chants, tools, unlike sorcery, wave of hand teleport. Nausea is boring every time, till finally stone suppresses #5. "Cousins" Lord Morrolan and vampire Sethra Lavode, last alive "fifteen thousand years ago" p 8 have Great Weapons; named black Morganti swords suck souls. She can't leave Black Castle, so they fool Vlad into coming, but apologize after. As "human" Easterner, he can pass wards that protect staff where her soul has been trapped for centuries, and leave Halls of Dead when restored to life by gods Lords of Judgement - probably. Verra is on their side, opposes her lover Barlan "Tough cookies .. You damn betcha, feather-breath" p 136, but still escape depends on Vlad. (view spoiler)[Often told "blood" is key, he spells vial blood into Morrolan. If he does not even know what spell he is using, why does he know may take all his life energy? From start, boring italic paragraphs give away crucial event. Despite warning "Those who sleep here do not wake again as living beings" p 148, their visit has no day-night times, just "suddenly" feel tired after reminder. (hide spoiler)]

This omnibus collects the fourth and fifth volumes in Steven Brust's Dragaera series, Taltos and Phoenix. I read the first three books collected as The Book of Jhereg about five years ago, and while I remembered a bit about the world Brust presents, those stories had completely faded from my memory. I expect the same will happen with these two installments as well. The world of Dragaera is interesting and appealing, but other aspects of the books aren't quite as strong.Although published fourth, Taltos is chronologically the first story in the series. It introduces Vlad Taltos, a human assassin operating in the Dragaeran Empire. In an interesting twist, the tall, magically-adept Dragaerans (nicknamed "elfs" by the humans) are the dominant species in Brust's world, with humans (called "Easterners" by the Dragaerans) generally relegated to the fringes of society. This book covers Taltos' youth, with a parallel plot-line involving a quest into the Dragaeran land of the dead. The story provides a good deal of insight into the character of Taltos, as well as describing how he gained some of the powerful allies that feature so heavily in the other stories.The other book in the omnibus, Phoenix, was the more troubled of the pair. In this story, Taltos is called upon by a goddess to assassinate the king of a minor nation. Just why this is necessary is never satisfactorily revealed, although there's some hinting about portents, etc. There's another thread dealing with the human liberation group Taltos's wife belongs to and it's struggle with the Dragaeran Empire, but this plot seemed fairly muddled as well. The ending was much better than the rest of the book, however; Taltos and the final pages of Phoenix are good enough to earn three stars, rather than the two I would've awarded otherwise.I'm starting to thing Brust may not be the author for me. I find the world of Dragaera interesting and I'm fond of fantasy crime stories (Lankhmar, etc.), but the plots in this volume were a little weak. The Vlad Taltos character is well realized, but the (unnecessarily numerous) supporting characters basically seem to have one shtick. There's Sneaky Guy, Thief Girl, Uptight Swordsman, etc. Whenever Sneaky Guy appears, he's being sneaky, that's it, there's no further development. Uptight Swordsman is Uptight, and Long Cat is Long.Vlad Taltos's "voice" (the books are written in first person) also rubs me the wrong way. He relates the story in a very casual, modern tone. He talks like every Joss Whedon character, basically. (It didn't surprise me at all to find out that Brust has written a full-length Firefly fan-fic novel.) For some readers (who may also be Whedon fans), this is probably not a drawback. However, I can only take Whedon in small doses, and when Brust (speaking through the character of Vlad Taltos) is describing life and death struggles and the fate of nations in a Whedonesque flippant, detached manner, I find I can't muster up much emotional involvement in the story. If the narrator isn't taking things seriously, why should I?I own one more Dragaera omnibus, collecting the next two volumes in the series. I'll read Athyra and Orca before deciding whether to keep going or to abandon the series entirely.

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Taltos : Vlad is still new to being a boss when one of his men betrays him, or so he thinks. Suddenly he is with some of the most powerful Dragaerans in the Empire. They want his help and they aren't shy about it. The strange thing is they don't want someone killed, they want something stolen and Vlad is the man for the job because he is an Easterner. It doesn't stop there because this volume also includes Vlad's infamous journey into the Paths of the Dead. It was interesting to see his interactions with these characters before they became friends. This one also has background on Vlad's early life.Phoenix : In Taltos Vlad met the gods and learned about the way they work a bit. So you would think he would know better than to pray to the goddess Verra for help. Actually she set him up so that she could offer him a job. He doesn't know why but he finds himself traveling to an island country to assassinate a king. The island is a strange and interesting place where the magics of this world do not function normally. Suddenly the Empire is on the brink of war and Cawti and her band of rebels are harassing it from the other side. This could end very badly.Original Review on my Website
—Stephanie Jobe

Two books, two reviews.Taltos: So I complained a little after reading the three parts of The Book of Jhereg that Brust was far too fond of jumping in without backstory. I stand corrected. This ENTIRE BOOK was backstory, which was kind of overkill, I think. There are two main storylines that Brust hops between, sometimes closely enough that it took me a minute to figure out that we were hopping. One is how Vlad became an assassin, and the other is his trip to the Paths of the Dead. I grew into liking the Paths of the Dead storyline because it's weird and fascinating and Morrolan and Aliera are my favorite characters. I never grew into liking the other because it felt rather forced, as if this was the Book of Backstory and this tale had to be told. Also, its end overlaps a bit with Yendi, so it felt kind of repetitive. I did really like the introduction of Aliera, though, and it was a good adventure.Phoenix: We return to the timeline left by Teckla, which I wasn't particularly fond of. The thing is, Brust rides this very interesting line of writing class warfare into fantasy realms, but I never actually cared about anyone directly involved in the fight. Also, I have no idea what the point of the gods is; they were kind of interesting in "Taltos," but here they just seem like plot devices--angry, short-sighted plot devices. I imagine Brust is laying the tracks for things he'll come back to in later books, but I just didn't get attached to anything that was going on. Definitely not the best of the series so far--although the Empress is, indeed, fascinating, and Morrolan and Aliera are still my favorites.

As usual with Brust's writing, I found the characters to be enjoyable and witty and the storyline to be intriquing. But, also as usual, I found the structure of the story to stand in the way of its development (he does his usual grasshopper method of leaping from moment to moment, and then revisiting each again and again) and little actual depth. This stories are meant to be fluff, I know, but Brust is a good enough writer that I constantly want him to truly apply himself and come up with something more memorable.

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