Brust, Steven: (110) Dzur

Fans of Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series: do not read any review of Dzur (out in August) other than this one. There are two surprises in the Prologue, one small and one big, and while it’s hard to call them spoilers since they’re in the Prologue, it’s so much fun to experience them as surprises. (The jacket copy is safe.)

Fortunately, the basic plot can be sketched without revealing these surprises. After the series-changing events of Issola, Vlad has gone for a meal at Valabar’s in Adrilankha. There, he finds that his estranged wife Cawti is having problems: they were both in the Organization (think Mafia); he’d left her the Organization’s interests in South Adrilankha when he left town several books back; and now the Left Hand of the Jhereg, a sorcerous organization, is moving in. (As the Organization is also known as the Right Hand, this allows the utterly deadpan statement, “It’s unfortunate, how little the Right Hand knows what the Left Hand is doing.”) For various reasons, Vlad agrees to help Cawti, despite the personal danger to himself (he didn’t leave town for a vacation, several books back).

Actually, if you need that backstory, you shouldn’t be reading this book. Start with Jhereg and go forward in publication order.

If you don’t need that backstory, just go buy the book when it comes out in August. It has all the stuff you read a Vlad novel for: old friends; enjoyable new characters; loving descriptions of food (the meal at Valabar’s is spread out over the remaining chapters as the opening section); snark; and using one’s wits to get out of desparate situations. And it’s really good to see how Vlad is growing and changing; this book is a very interesting contrast to Dragon, the book before Issola and also named after a very war-inclined House. (It’s killing me that I can’t say more about it than that. But, interesting contrast; watch for it.)

At this point in the series, there are a number of long-term plot issues waiting to be resolved. I suspect that some people will want more movement on these than they’re going to get; but I think enough happens in this book to be a book, and I’m willing to trust Brust on the pacing of the series overall. And I very much enjoyed and appreciated what happens here—all I really want is for August to hurry up and get here so I can discuss it!

Many thanks to Patrick Nielsen Hayden for the Advance Uncorrected Proof.


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  1. I am so envious. Sniff.

  2. Well, er, I can think of ways that you would be able to discuss it much earlier. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have anything to bribe you with. I still do owe you something for The Luck of the Wheels from way back when, though.
    On a more serious note, I’m rather surprised this book wasn’t a flashback. I guess, given the positive review, it manages to avoid the dangers of Overly Powerful Main Character Syndrome, then?

  3. Aaron: well, I thought so, and in fact the way Vlad manages recent events was one of the things I liked about it.
    There are more references to his trip East, FWIW, so I would expect to get that novel sometime.

  4. I recently scored some nice early Advance Reader Copies (Powers and Bujold, eee!) and now I’m stuck waiting to read about their discussions. Is there any netiquette to discussing ARCs, other than quiet gloating?

  5. Kvon: Depends on the forum, I’d say; the Bujold mailing list used to set up a separate spoiler list, for instance.
    (Oh yeah, I meant to post this to the Brust mailing list.)

  6. Hey Kate,
    Can you refresh my recollection by what you mean by the “the series-changing events of Issola?”
    I read the book, and all, but aside from the one big thing with Lady Teldra, I cannot recall much about it.

  7. Rich: no, that’s pretty much what I meant.

  8. Hmmm.
    As luck would have it, I have been rereading the Viscount trilogy, in some sort of subconscious preparation for Dzur. I think as soon as I am done with Sethra Lavode (which I still wish had been named Enchantress of Dzur Mountain) I shall reread the Vlad books.

  9. So…any plans for a spoilerific review soon?

  10. Skwid: I don’t know. Do you really think it needs one?
    It’d be short, anyway.

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