Author: Steven Brust
Series: Vlad Taltos #2
Vladimir Taltos has taken an important first step: claiming a small area of the city as his own territory. The Jhereg House dabbles in many things that are either highly taxed or flat-out illegal, such as assassinations and running the local crime syndicate. As long as Vlad can clear it with his superiors in the House–and avoid drawing the Empire’s official attention–he’s got a new, stable, much more lucrative line of business. Except that someone else is trying to muscle in on his territory, and now it’s war. A war he can’t afford to fight, but he definitely can’t afford to lose . . .
On the one hand, this is a fun war of intrigue and assassination between two rival mob bosses both intent on claiming the same patch of turf. But it’s also a story about some wider-reaching plots within the Dragaeran Empire, and despite Vlad’s best efforts, how he ends up involved in far more than just trying to stay alive.
Since despite my best efforts I ended up reading this one after the third one (since I didn’t have a copy until after I read the third one), this felt a bit like backstory to me to show how Vlad works out his early days as a freelance assassin. It was still an engaging story, even though I’d already accidentally spoiled myself on the ending.
Overall this is a good, short, high-stakes plot that never forgets its characters are human first. I like the layered society, the various oddities and customs, and the way various parts work together. I rate this book Recommended.