Brust, Steven: (112) Iorich

This is unfair to Steven Brust’s Iorich, but I wanted it to be a different book.

Iorich is set four years after Dzur, and unquestionably has a great premise: Vlad comes back to Adrilankha because Aliera has been arrested on charges of practicing Elder Sorcery—a capital crime. And it gets a great deal of the feel of legal stuff right.

But it’s four years after Dzur and Vlad is in basically the same position he was at the end of that book. (There’s one thing mentioned in passing that’s different, but it doesn’t seem to have any effect on him here.) Four years! This is the book that made me realize that, for all that he’s shown skulking in the woods in Issola, I just can’t see it: I can’t envision him having that kind of existence in the time between books. I gave Dzur a pass on not making progress on Vlad’s big-picture problems because I loved the characterization so much, but this book frustrated me when I was finished because its ending seems to promise future movement Real Soon Now, which just pointed out how much still needed to be resolved.

I also wanted this to be a different book because Vlad’s POV is unfortunately limited. The plot does not make a lot of sense to me (Chad and I, in fact, came up with completely opposite understandings of it), and I suspect much of the problem is that at least one major player simply would never tell Vlad just why they acted as they did.

There are some very good things about the book, among which are a non-annoying Cawti, a great moment with Kragar, and some hilarious “deleted scenes” at the end. Almost everyone who’s not me likes it a lot. If you haven’t read it yet, you probably will too. (Hey, I said I was being unfair.)

(Note: I originally read this in an ARC from the publisher.)

10 Comments

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  1. I didn’t love it. On the other hand, I honestly did not notice that it was ostensibly set 4 years after Dzur. I’m not sure exactly why you care, either — what am I missing here?
    I am, however, getting a trifle impatient for It to happen, where “It” is Whatever Everyone Else Is Expecting From Vlad and His Weapon, and Keeps Asking About.

  2. The four years gets mentioned several times with regard to Vlad Norathar, who is now eight.
    So that makes it almost double the time since everything went to hell with the Jhereg, with nothing to show for it. The problem may be that, like I said, I don’t really believe that he’s just skulking the woods in the time between books–but I just find it hard to buy that in all that time, we’re still not any closer to a resolution with regard to the Jhereg. (And, also, “It,” as you say.)

  3. What are the odds that we will get a later book that relates events from during the 4 year hiatus? I admit that’s not my preferred approach; I don’t much like book-length flashbacks.

  4. I think the odds are good that we get multiple books, even, on the events–especially the (spoiler, ROT13) vffbyn ybire.

  5. Hey Kate,
    First time commenter – really enjoy your reviews. Regards the spoiler, I kind of assumed it was the bard from the town in Athyra…don’t have the books with me, but thought she was an Issola. Might be jumping to conclusions though.

  6. I finally got around to reading the book (and your post, since I waited to read it until after I finished).
    I had pretty much the same reaction as you did. It felt like a lot of wheel-spinning – entertaining wheel-spinning, but still. It also didn’t feel particularly fresh – where it didn’t feel like Dzur it felt a lot like Orca. Not that I expect every book in a 19-book series to be radically different, but still.
    I am less bothered by the “skulking in the woods” thing, since Vlad occasionally mentions or hints at other things he’s been doing. He visited his grandfather at some point, for instance, and I’m pretty sure he’s spent more time in the East than we saw in Jhegaala, from all his comments.
    Having just re-read Dzur in preparation, with Vlad’s discovery that Verra has been editing his memories, made some things more confusing than they probably ought to have been. E.g., Norathar mentions the Left Hand and then denies doing so on the next page. A slip in editing, or something meaningful?
    Josh: the minstrel (Sara) is an Issola. I first thought that Vlad was referring obliquely to Lady Teldra, but I’m probably wrong.

  7. Dan, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought of Lady Teldra at first. (I also decided against it, because the timing didn’t seem to work.)

  8. I decided against it being Lady Teldra because what Vlad said just didn’t feel right for that to be the case (especially since she hasn’t woken up yet).
    The more I think about the plot in this book, the less I understand it. For example, given what we are told happened in the end, what was to prevent the groups that wanted to spread the rumor from doing so? It would seem to me like an excellent opportunity to do so.

  9. Dan, the plot has completely fallen out of my head, already, so I can’t answer your question.

  10. It was more of a rhetorical question anyway.

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