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Jhegaala
Steven Brust
Tor, 301 pages

Jhegaala
Steven Brust
Steven Brust was born in 1955. His writing includes the Vlad Taltos series (others include Jhereg, Yendi, Teckla, Taltos, Phoenix, and Orca), The Phoenix Guards, 500 Years After, To Reign in Hell, Brokedown Palace, The Sun the Moon and the Stars, Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille, The Gypsy (with Megan Lindholm) and Agyar. He also has done some short fiction in the Liavek series edited by Will Shetterly and Emma Bull. He lives in Minneapolis.

Steven Brust Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Book of Athyra
SF Site Review: The Paths of the Dead
SF Site Review: The Book of Taltos
SF Site Review: Issola

Past Feature Reviews
A review by John Enzinas

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Jhegaala, Steven Brust's eleventh book about Vlad Taltos, is a flashback that takes place between Dzur and Issola. It chronicles Vlad's journeys in the East as he attempts to both distance himself from the Jhereg who have a price on his head and to try and discover more about his family tree.

Vlad travels to the town of Burz where in the process of trying to uncover his roots he manages to also dig up a number of secrets that the town's power brokers would have preferred stayed underground.

I managed to finish the book quickly, more because it was a wonderfully engaging book than because it was short. I've enjoyed Brust's writing for years mostly because he is a writer that is willing to experiment. Even with a series that is solidly in the realm of Pulp Fantasy (because how else would you classify a series about a human living in a world of elves surviving using his wits, his unique magical abilities, his training as an assassin and his psychic linked venomous mini-dragon) he still manages to make interesting stories that not only explore the characters depths but also play interesting games with story structure and other literary techniques.

This story is designed to parallel the growth stages of the Jhegaala and Vlad's own growth and experiences through the novel. The novel is also much less action oriented than any of the previous Vlad books I have read. It is structured much more like a detective novel where we see Vlad slowly piecing together the secrets of the town until he finally understands whats going on. We, the readers, are left in the dark (just like his faithful jhereg Loiosh) until the big reveal at the end.

In addition, while there is a brief altercation, Vlad does not use his skills as an assassin to kill anyone. I'm reasonably certain that this is a first for the series.

I would definitely recommend this to all fans of Brust's work and thanks to the fact that his stories are not spoiled by lack of familiarity with the other books in the series I can recommend this to those who have not read any of the other books. It is probably not the best starting entry point into the series given how different it is in style from the others but it is still worth a look, especially if you enjoy the concept of a fantasy detective story.

Copyright © 2008 John Enzinas

John Enzinas reads frequently and passionately. In his spare time he plays with swords.


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