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In the 4th installment of Vlad's adventures he finds himself on the Paths of the Dead. We also find out how Vlad got a hold of Spell Breaker (the chain he carry's that will dispel magic that is thrown at it). As we all know every assassin must have a first job and we get to see how Vlad began his carrier.
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3.5 stars. Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Taltos is the fourth novel in Steven Brust’s series about Vlad Taltos, a human crime boss in the fantasy world of Dragaera, where humans are short of stature and lifespan compared to the species that rule the world. Taltos is actually a prequel to the previous novels (Jhereg, Yendi, Teckla) in which Vlad tells us about an incident that happened years ago while he was solidifying his reputation as a new crime lord. One of his lackeys tried to cheat him, so Vlad went after him instead of letting the guy get away because he didn’t want to seem weak to his rivals. The man fled to Castle Black, an elusive floating castle owned by the Dragonlord Morrolan. Vlad followed. This is how he met some of the main characters who we already know from the previous novels, including Morrolan, the powerful sorceress Sethra Lavode, and the Dragon Heir Aliera. Together they have a grand adventure which involves stealing magical artifacts, walking the Paths of the Dead, and performing a dangerous bit of witchcraft.
While Vlad is telling us about this adventure, he also provides flashbacks which describe his childhood with his family, how he eventually left home to begin a career as another crime lord’s minion, and how he rose in the organization by being clever and daring. We learn a lot about Vlad’s father and grandfather, and the fact that Vlad doesn’t know who his mother is (which is bound to be important later). In this timeline we also witness when Vlad met, for the first time, Kiera, the thief who is Vlad’s friend, and Kragar, his current partner in crime.
Brust does a great job of interweaving these separate plot lines and giving us a lot of backstory about Vlad as well as much of the information about Dragaera that I felt like I had been missing so far. Also, the story gives us further hints about why Vlad, who’s merely an Easterner human, may be important to the Dragaeran society.
Vlad Taltos has a great voice and he’s a fun character, as is his familiar Loiosh, the jhereg. They make a great team and it’s fun to listen to them banter with each other. Brust’s prose is easily readable and each book I’ve read so far (the first four) are quick action-packed reads. I’m listening to the audio versions produced by Audible Studios. I love Bernard Setaro Clark in this role. He’s got just the right voice and pace. The audiobook is 6.25 hours long.
You could easily read Taltos before reading the other novels. If you’re the type of reader who would rather go in internal chronological order, I’d suggest picking this up first. Taltos is a must-read for fans of the VLAD TALTOS series because it gives us a lot of backstory while being just as much fun as the previous books.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful