Jhereg by Steven Brust

Last read 2012
Recommended for fans of assassins and complex fantasy worlds
★    ★   ★    ★  

The release of Iorich sent me down the path of re-reading the Taltos series. While Iorich was enjoyable and engrossing, memories sent me back to the inaugural Vlad. Sophisticated writing, interesting characters and one seriously convoluted plot. It’s interesting, because this is the fourth book in the timeline of the series and Vlad’s history, but actually the first published (echoes of Lucas). I’d recommend reading Jhereg first, as it’s told in a largely linear fashion with only a few flashbacks, and as such is a decent introduction to the world’s political and social structure. As the series continues, Brust starts playing in interesting ways with narrative, so it helps to already have a solid grip on the basics.

Characters are done well, with broad brushstrokes. We get some of Vlad’s early years, and we are given the background on his initial connection with Loiosh. His friendships with Dragons Morrolan and Aliera, and his lieutenant Krager are well established in this book, with nice repartee and camaraderie. Loiosh is a smart sidekick, but not overly humanized. The plot is entirely plausible within the world setting, and although Vlad’s antagonist has spent decades planning his revenge, his rationale is somewhat understandable and brings a sense of sympathy even as Vlad works to save the situation.

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
This entry was posted in Book reviews, Epic fantasy, fantasy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Jhereg by Steven Brust

  1. Mikhail S. Rekun says:

    Hmm. I feel like I ought to give Brust’s series another try. I took a stab at it once when I was in college or so, and it didn’t really *click*. But perhaps a second try will go over better.

    • thebookgator says:

      I can see it not being *quite* your style because it feels like it has a grittiness and consciousness of political structure of the world that doesn’t quite jibe with the more imaginative, fantastical. Brust doesn’t write ‘dark,’ by any means, but I think it has a complexity that I find very satisfying. He is also very fond of dropping hints and not answering them until much later.

      • Mikhail S. Rekun says:

        Complex but not overly grim doesn’t sound so bad — my main issue with a lot of more recent fantasy (Joe Abercrombie, G. R. R. Martin) is that just painfully *gloomy*.

        Well, onto the To-Read List it goes!

      • thebookgator says:

        I think while there are fantastical elements, the approach feels very ‘real.’ There’s racism, classism, and violence; and the emotional tenor changes: love, heartbreak, disappointment, alienation… not all the books are ‘happy’ books, so I haven’t re-read some as much as others.

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