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Dzur (Vlad Taltos) Hardcover – August 8, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
After a detour with the Viscount of Adrilankha trilogy (Sethra Lavode, etc.), Brust returns to sometime assassin and popular protagonist Vlad Taltos in the 10th installment of his famously disordered series. Beginning where Issola (2001) left off, this novel follows Vlad simultaneously through a complicated scheme to disrupt the political maneuvering of a shady association known as the Left Hand of the Jhereg and an exquisite dinner at the renowned restaurant Valabar's. (Each chapter, like a course in a literary feast, opens with descriptions of the fare at Valabar's.) Brust brings the grimy streets of Adrilankha to life in swift, vivid strokes and keeps the narrative skipping with wisecracking conversations amongVlad, his companion Loiosh and friends old and new. Though the in-jokes fly thick and fast and the line between familiar and recycled sometimes blurs, new readers won't notice and fans will be too happy at the prospect of another Taltos book to mind. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Vlad Taltos' latest adventure starts where Issola (2002) left off. For many years, he was a contented boss in the Jhereg, which ran the rackets in the imperial capital, Adrilankha. But after his wife got in trouble, and he got her out, he had a price on his head that kept him running for some time. Now he is sitting down to a meal at Valabar's, and Valabar's has the best food in the Dragarean Empire. But his ex needs help again. The Left Hand, a cabal of sorceresses without a boss, is taking over the Jhereg, which doesn't affect the reward for Vlad but does induce some erstwhile colleagues to want him to help them before they claim it. Also, a goddess is manipulating his memory, and the great weapon he carries is acting independently. It's adventure time again. Brust adds a charming twist this time. Vlad gets his meal, and each chapter's title and heading describe one delicacy at Valabar's. A must-read for series fans. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
But I felt the bill of fare was just a little too lean. In previous volumes, Brust has managed to balance action and process to a good effect. Here, I often felt left out of the loop. Several times, Vlad made connections that were never explained to my satisfaction, or said something like "the pieces fell into place," without ever saying what the pieces were or how they fit. This bothered me. Since I've never before had trouble following Vlad's reasoning, I mostly ended up feeling that information was withheld to no good purpose, except maybe to move the story along to the more active bits. But since I didn't have the information, the active bits didn't have the impact they could have.
I had a hard time understanding why Vlad got involved in the situation in the first place. This was mainly because his feelings for Cawti at this point in his history were mainly left unexplored. Several times Vlad himself, as narrator, mentioned something from his past and then declined to go into detail. This annoyed me. Even though I've read all the books in this series and understood what he was referring to, I felt hearing some of Vlad's own perspective would not have come amiss.
A couple plot devices seemed misplaced. The subplot about the Demon Goddess served mainly to distract from the main doings of the book. I got the sense of, "this is going to be relevant later and it has to go somewhere..." I wish it had had more bearing on the matter at hand. Also, as much as I enjoy seeing Kiera the Thief, her appearance in this volume seemed largely gratuitous.
Each chapter is preceded, as others have mentioned, with portions of a description of Vlad's long-awaited meal at Valabar's. Brust has used this interweaving technique to great efect before, notably in _Taltos_. Here, it seemed out of place. There was no clear connection between the meal and the rest of the story. Also, the descriptions of the food were so loving and lavish that it made the action seem rather uninteresting in comparison.
Until Chapter 15, I was a little bored by this book. After that, things started happening and got more interesting.
In the end, I was glad to read another Vlad novel, but I felt strongly that this was a book not really meant to stand alone, but best taken in context as a a transitional point of the series. As such, a reader new to the series should not start here.
It's not a bad book, per se. It's almost impossible for a Vlad book to be really bad. But it's easily the weakest in the series. I won't describe who Vlad is or what has brought him to this point in life, because the book will be incomprehensible anyway unless you have read most of the other books in the series. [Start with Jhereg or Taltos or perhaps even Dragon.] Dzur is, at best, simply a "where are they now" story about what has happened to the characters in Vlad's past during the time he has been wandering in exile.
The abrupt plot non-resolution was a big letdown. Of course, plot isn't really what most of these books are all about. However, on the character and universe development side, things aren't any better. There is a tiny bit of information about what it means to be a Dzur, but I thought that was actually covered in much better detail by the related Phoenix Guard books. And even though we get to see a fair bit of Sethra, there was nothing much to really add to our understanding of her.
It was time for us to see a post-gangster, post-exile Vlad. Instead, we got something of a regression. In fact, if there was any one of the old characters who really should have been involved in this book, it was actually the one who was explicitly not included ... Vlad's grandfather.
Since he mentions perhaps stopping off there on his way out of town, I'm hoping the next time Brust writes about Vlad the results will be a little more interesting.
His wife left him for, well, let's just say, he didn't listen very well, but at the same time, in order to save her that time, well, he got the price put on his head. So the results of this book, he saves her again, and gets a lot more people pissed off at him which will no doubt increase the price on his head but he has along the way in the past picked up some toys, one of which he can use to threaten gods into helping him, so finding or killing him will not be easy.
I just cannot wait for the next book in the series.
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In Dzur, the tenth book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series, Vlad is finally back in the city of Adrilankha.Read more