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.