I read Steven Brust’s Sethra Lavode, the concluding volume of The Viscount of Adrilankha (prior volumes: The Paths of the Dead and The Lord of Castle Black), quite a while ago. I’d planned to post about it just as it was released, to remind all six people who read this that it was time to buy it—and, of course, when our published copy arrived, I only had time to flip through it, not to re-read or post. These good intentions just aren’t working when it comes to delayed posting; next time I read something pre-publication I’m going to put it directly in the posting queue. After all, I often get far enough behind that I’d end up posting around the time of publication after all . . .
Anyway, Sethra Lavode. Interestingly, three of the four titles in this sequence are names, and none of the eponymous characters really dominate. Each named character is in the book, but the story is spread out among many different characters and the balance stays fairly constant over the series. (This is not a criticism, just an observation.) In particular, I think the reader learns more about Sethra Lavode in the Vlad books, or even in Five Hundred Years After, than in this book. This book is also tied much more closely to the Vlad books, specifically Issola, than the other Paarfi novels, to the extent that I think it would seem rather weird to someone who hadn’t read Issola.
As an individual book, this was a very enjoyable read. I have a quibble or two, but I turned pages rapidly, I smiled and sniffled and gasped and cursed Paarfi, who at one point opened a chapter with, roughly, “Surely you’ve been panting to know what happened—with something completely different than the shocker I just dropped in your lap? Right, let’s go talk about that, then.” As a conclusion to a three-volume work, and to the Paarfi books overall, well, unfortunately I can’t really say, because I haven’t had time to re-read the books as a whole. There were certainly series-long payoffs that I noted, but other things Paarfi appears have to left as unrealized dramatic irony (or something). Personally, while I liked the Viscount and his friends, my truest affection remains for Khaavren and co., who we started with all the way back in The Phoenix Guards, and it’s them I’m sorriest to leave behind. On their behalf, I’m glad that the very end of the novel, with its wrapping-ups and goodbyes, was very satisfying.