Author: Steven Brust
Series: Vlad Taltos #13
This is less of a novel and more like three novellas grouped together in a collection. They all feature a silver tiassa statue, but otherwise they’re very different stories.
The first follows Vlad as he attempts to collect from a bad debtor and becomes embroiled in his usual type of twisty, backstabbing scheme to get something far bigger.
The second is more about Cawti. Vlad is now on the run, and Cawti is trying to raise their son and keep out of trouble. She’s not sure how she feels about Vlad anymore, but when others start stirring up trouble, she’s willing to pitch in her efforts to handle things.
The third follows Khaavern, and is told in the same historical style as The Phoenix Guards (and sequels). Khaavren knows his duty, and when he finds Vlad victim of attempted murder, he’s determined to get to the bottom of things. Of course, Vlad is on the run and doesn’t want the help of the Phoenix Guards . . .
I enjoyed the stories well enough as separate tales, but I think it’s a mistake to try to treat them as a novel. The tiassa connection feels particularly forced in the third story, and the changing style of narration works against feeling like a cohesive whole. Add to that I’m just less fond of the overly wordy style of the Khaavren pieces, and for me the book got less enjoyable as I progressed.
Still, it was good to see some questions answered, and I liked seeing what Cawti’s been up to (her calling her son “Boulder” definitely got a laugh out of me).
Overall, this is probably my least favorite of the novels in the series, but most of that is due to the structure. If taken as a collection of shorter stories I think it works better. I rate this book Neutral.