on November 10, 1998
Althogh a big Vlad Taltos fan, these fantasies are my favorite Brust novels, and rank among my favorite comic fantasies (including Jack Vance's "Lyonesse" and John Barnes' "One for the Morning Glory," but not including anything by Piers Anthony or Terry Pratchett.) The fictional author Paarfi is supposedly paid by the word (like his alter-ego, Alexandre Dumas) and it shows: this is one of the most verbose, long-winded and pompous novels I have ever read, yet Brust is obviously having such a good time with the language that I was drawn in inexorably and found myself munching through the long book at an incredible pace. Brust can spend ten pages saying absolutely nothing, yet it remains facinating. I dont want to give the impresion that nothing happens: there is lots of action, subterfuge, and plenty of weaves and twists. Longtime Taltos fans will be thrilled to finaly meet the elusive Mario. Yet the fictional author spends plent of time in the detials, in the characters, and in self-absobed preening. If you want a fast, bang-em-up hack and slasher, do not buy this book. If, however, you are a lover of rich, textured language and the ludicrous, then buy this book. Right now.
on November 29, 2000
As a fantasy buff, I can't believe I'd never heard of Steven Brust before stumbling across this book's predecessor, _The Phoenix Guards_ (with its striking cover) in the public library. If there were justice in the literary world, you'd think he'd have received more acclaim and notice than a certain Mr. J-----, also a TOR author, as Brust's writing is crisp and lively, his pacing excellent.
As explained in an "interview" with the book's pompous narrator, Brust writes for those who love to read, i.e. those who enjoy a good vocabulary, good grammar, good phrasing, and (indeed) a good story. This is not some "page-turner" to be engulfed at one-sitting; if you did that with a box of Godiva chocolates, you'd become ill and lose the appreciation for each one. Just so with each of the book's chapters. The plot does slow a little too much in places--often due the musings of the intruding, over-erudite narrator--but there are worthy adages, tales and metaphors therein; don't miss them.
This is a fine, fine work. The swashbuckling spirit of _The Phoenix Guards_ remains intact, but partially cloaked by ominous portents. Do not miss these two books if you enjoy a good tale (fantasy or otherwise). I'll eagerly await the third.
(Postscript: Perhaps best of all, the story ends! Take note, Messrs. J----- and G-------.)
on October 26, 2002
What would the Three Musketeers have been like 500 years after they originally fought together, in say oh, on our timeline, April 2125.
In The Phoenix Guard Brust introduced his three musketeers, and they had a similar parting of ways, but now forces are gathering to cause problems, Mario walks the world, and the friends get together again to save it.
I enjoy the adventures of Vlad Taltos, but this book and it predecessor are perhaps the most entertaining of the lot. Taltos is an outsider in the Dragaeran Society, Khaavren, Aerich, Tazendra, and Pel are within it. Their adventures are no less enjoyable than those of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan. Written with the same tongue and cheek perspective as the Taltos series, these books provide an intersting view of classical characters.
on December 10, 2000
The Phoenix Guards is one of the few books I would recommend to anyone without reservation, and I think I could do the same with 500 Years After. Stephen Brust, I am certain, took great pleasure in writing this novel, savouring every word in his baroque descriptions of his characters, their intrigues, and the incredible setting of the city of Dragaera. After years of hearing about Adron's Disaster from the Vlad Taltos novels, we finally get to see that terribly tragedy, as Adron makes decent, honourable efforts to do his duty to the Empire as he sees fit. Of course, Khavvren, Pel, Tazendra, and Aerich are there to see it, and to try to stop it. Frankly, I enjoy this series even more than Vlad Taltos, and I hope the third installment will appear eventually (it's been a long wait).
on October 3, 1999
Brust's style throughout is flowery... so if that turns you off then don't bother reading this fantasy written in the dramatic and flowery style of Dumas. Loads of fun. A good book to curl up under the covers with, with interesting and convincing characters, a well-conceived universe, and thought-provoking ideas. I can't wait for the next one in the series!
on October 10, 1997
It seems clear from this book that the author had in mind his own enjoyment as much as that of the reader. This self-contentment is reflected in the intricacies of the characters' interplay and the multi-layered, satisfyingly complex plot. For me, it is the author's best work, although the self-referential mythology may put off the casual reader, as may the romanticised style utilised. It is darker in tone than the previous Phoenix Guards, but the harder edge is matched by the richer flow of emotion from all concerned.
It is an exciting ride, and one on which you feel the author is a fellow traveller rather than leading the way.
on August 3, 1999
This book continues the adventures of Khaavren and his compatriots some five hundred years after The Phoenix Guards. Brust, an admitted fan of Alexandre Dumas, manages to capture some of the spirit of that author's work in a fantasy setting. While the convoluted language can be a bit frustrating at times, ("Why, do you pretend that you have a review?" "I assure you that I do." "I await your wisdom." "Do you wish to hear it?" "Shards! I have desired nothing else for the past hour!" etc.), it actually grows on you. All in all an enjoyable, if light, read.
on January 7, 2008
This book continues the adventures of our four friends and the adventures are well worth following. However, I might have given this book only four and a half or four stars were it not for two things.
The "interview," or conversation between the author and his alter-ego, the Dragaerian historical novelist Paarfi, is the greatest. It is only a few paragraphs but it sparkles.
And then there's Tazendra.
on September 9, 2000
This is a sequel to "The Phoenix Guards". The court is upset by a series of murders. Khaavren suspects that the murders are part of a dangerous intrigue against the emperor, and his three friends , Aerich, Tazendra, and Pel, help him investigate, as does the Enchantress, Sethra Lavode. At the same time, the hungry masses are turning against the Empire, and the proud Adron e'Kieron comes to the city with his daughter...The disaster is inevitable ! Plus, we get Khaavren, Aerich, Pel, Tazendra, Sethra and Aliera in one book ! (Oh, and Mario, the legendary assassin, is in it too.)
on November 28, 2008
This book's predecessor, The Phoenix Guard, was already a masterpiece, bringing, as it does, the spirit of The Three Musketeers to the Dragaeran Empire. 500 Years After goes further, by mixing in a gripping plot, describing a tragedy that readers of the Vlad Taltos books know is coming, and showing how a dozen occurrences, each seemingly insignificant in itself, lead to the catastrophe. This may be Brust's single finest work.