- Series: Vlad (Book 11)
- Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (June 30, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765341557
- ISBN-13: 978-0765341556
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 57 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,345,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Jhegaala (Vlad) Mass Market Paperback – June 30, 2009
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In this immediate sequel to Phoenix (1990), Brust’s series hero Vlad Taltos, fleeing the Jhereg, decides to look up kinfolk in a papermaking town in Fenario. Before he can do more than ask about them, however, they’re murdered. Professional assassin Vlad is not going to stand for that, but, no longer part of an organization, he must do his own detecting in a strange land whose customs he doesn’t know. Brust skillfully uses the minor characters to throw light on Vlad, making this a Vlad novel especially commendable to those contracting a first acquaintance. --Frieda Murray --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Dzur gives us Vlad Taltos at his best." —Cinescope
"Fresh, snappy, and terribly likeable…Dzur shows you what heroic fantasy can be." —Cory Doctorow
“Steven Brust may well be America’s best fantasy writer.” —Tad Williams
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Steven Brust sure takes forever to write a book, yet the man is worth the wait. He's one of my favorite authors, and I'm always like a pig in odious slop whenever he's writing about Vlad Taltos. JHEGAALA is the eleventh novel in the Taltos series, featuring that wise-cracking assassin and lowly Easterner living in the world of Dragaerans.
Some background stuff: Note that in the world of Dragaera, seven-foot-tall elves (called Dragaerans) are the ruling species, with the Easterners (or humans) predominantly treated as second class citizens. Vlad Taltos had eked out a living as an assassin for the House of the Jhereg and had, for a while, become a minor crime lord. Life was good, and he'd even gotten married. But then certain of his actions (and a peasants' revolt) drew the ire of the Jhereg House and he'd been forced to skedaddle, with assassins fierce on his heels. Several books (Athyra,Orca,Issola (Vlad),Dzur (Vlad)) have chronicled his adventures during his fugitive years. As things stand presently, Vlad is still on the run and seemingly without direction. So I do wish Brust would get on with current events...
...Because JHEGAALA doesn't catch us up to what Vlad's been up to recently. This eleventh book, instead, tells of a time in Vlad's past, filling in the gap between the life-changing events in Phoenix and his re-appearance years later in ATHYRA. So, chronologically, DZUR is still the most current novel. In this one, it's only been weeks since Vlad's marriage had soured and since the criminal Jhereg organization had put a contract on him. Vlad decides to leave the Dragaeran Empire and head East, to get even further away from the Jhereg and also to sate his curiousity regarding his mother's murky family roots. A lead takes him to the pungent village of Burz in the human kingdom of Fenario, possibly the home of his mother.
Vlad finds himself in unfamiliar territory, a human having to deal with his own kind. Immediately he's looked on with suspicion and his questions draw uneasy reactions from the villagers, especially when he throws out his old family name of Merss. Then, a tragedy unfolds, this possibly stemming from Vlad's nosiness. Soon Vlad and his winged lizardly familiars, Loiosh and Rocza, are full deep in shady goings-on. Vlad, really out of his element, remains clueless even as the body count piles up and mysterious entities such as the Guild and the Coven make their mark. And where does the elderly Count and his machinations fit in? Vlad has never been good at sleuthing. He'd rather stab something, any day. But, as it turns out, if he wants to get thru this predicament, he'll have to do it while bed-ridden...
Is JHEGAALA worth the wait? I happen to think so, but I can see why other readers might feel cheated. JHEGAALA is one of the slower entries in the Taltos series. New readers are advised to start with something more newbie-friendly, such as TALTOS (The Book of Taltos) or JHEREG (The Book of Jhereg (Vlad Taltos)). JHEGAALA, not as action-packed or colorful or boisterous as other Taltos novels, better serves Vlad's longtime fans. If you're up on Vlad's history, then this one goes a ways into filling in the timeline between PHOENIX and ATHYRA. JHEGAALA tends to be more introspective. Vlad really is an alien amongst his own people, having to constantly ferret out the townspeople's customs, beliefs, and frame of mind. Also, I don't think I've ever seen Vlad rendered more distraught or vulnerable. A significant portion of the book has him in helpless convalescence, from which state he's forced to orchestrate his survival. In the Dragaeran Cycle, the House of the Jhegaala reflects metamorphosis and endurance. This certainly applies to what happens to Vlad here.
Steven Brust's writing kept me flipping pages in spite of the languid pace and the lack of enough exciting stuff happening. As always, the entertaining banter between Vlad and Loiosh continues to be a strength. And, as always, it's fun having the story told from Vlad's wry point of view. And here's a thing: Somewhere during the reading, the book becomes a whodunit, and Loiosh and Vlad's wisecracks fit in that genre seamlessly. This is kind of a come-full-circle thing as Brust has admitted that there's a bit of Dashiell Hammett thrown in the writing style of this series. Personally, though, I didn't care all that much for the mystery part (too convoluted); rather, I just sat back and relished Vlad Taltos doing his Vlad Taltos stuff. He's never better than when he's being arrogant and smirky and sarcastic. But if you're new to this series, I can see why this book might not do anything for you.
JHEGAALA isn't at the top of my favorite Vlad Taltos stories, but I'll take what I can get. But I hope the next book in the series catches us up with what Vlad is up to right now. And, hopefully, we get to see more of Vlad's Dragaeran friends and more of Cawti and Noish-pa.
Eventually when the central problem is resolved, it is both too neat and less than satisfying because while Vlad sets the finale in motion, he has no direct hand in these pivotal events.
Don't get me wrong; despite my carping this is not a bad book at all; it just suffers in comparison with the better books in the series, which are among my favorite fantasy books.
The rest of the book, however, is a good, solid read. It isn't as fun or exciting as the first few books in the series, nor is it quite as introspective or revealing as books like Taltos or Five Hundred Years after. But it is enjoyable. I do wish Brust would set up a larger story, though ... Jhegaala is essentially a murder mystery, and not a tremendously compelling one. I felt all the way through the novel that I wanted Vlad to get somewhere and he never really did.
Interesting style of writing, all told in first person narrative, made for a strange take on the novel. I was suggested the book by a friend who said that the whole series becomes far more involved as you progress through the books. I hope this is true, as this book came off as little more than a fantasy style detective story. The world that our takes place in is either thought out, and the author is revealing tidbits at a time, under the guise of a conversation assuming basic knowledge, or the writer is making it up as he goes along.
Either way, my interest is piqued enough to pick up another book or two and see where it goes.