Author: Steven Brust
Series: Vald Taltos #3
Vladimir Taltos has finally gotten to a comfortable life as an assassin, with a wife he loves dearly, and no one in particular who wants him dead. But his wife, Cawti, is mixed up with some Teckla grumbling about the way things are. Mutters of revolutions. Not that it’s bound to come to anything much, except then people start dying. Someone cares. And since Cawti is part of this, Vlad finds himself more drawn in than he wishes . . .
I love how tight and defined this book is. The plot is a mystery unfolding slowly–a revolution that Vlad has no interest in, happening underneath his nose. And I was interested to see the points raised on all sides. Vlad has legitimate reasons for opposing the revolution, as the rebels have legitimate grievances against the current society that stratifies them in the lowest tiers. But the heart of the story is the relationship between Vlad as his wife, the wife he loves too much to live without, but a woman so committed to her beliefs she might die for them.
It’s also a fascinating look at what being an assassin does to a man, and how that challenges Vlad’s humanity (and although he’s rather bothered by the question of his place in the universe, he’s not particularly concerned about the people he might kill to keep himself or his loved one safe.) Also, the cover tag is hysterical and appropriate: “In which Vlad learns that killing never solves anything . . . but it keeps people out of your hair while you think about what to do.”
The prose doesn’t waste time with a lot of extraneous description. I like the depth to the world, and how it’s all there by context. I like the terse way Vlad describes his interactions with his wife, and how their actions show both the love and the tension. I started on book 3 by necessity (didn’t have the first two when I began) but there wasn’t any problem jumping right in and getting the gist of everything.
This is not a long book at all, but it packs more into its roughly 200 page length than many novels twice the size. Well worth the read both for the interesting fantasy world and the strong characters. I rate this book Recommended.