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Pretty good book, sort of...
on 5 November 1998
I'm a fan of this series from way back, but must agree with prior reviews stating that Brust gets a little confused in terms of character development, presenting a Vlad Taltos with the maturity of the later books into the chronology of the earlier efforts. Fair enough, and I understand that it must be a difficult task to "roll-back" the evolution of one's character in order to fit the needs of a non-linear publishing schedule (Lois Bujold undergoes similar difficluties with Mile Vorkosigan). But that wasn't my problem with the book. My problem with the book was that I didn't find the portrayal of Vlad's adventures in the army particularly compelling or convincing. Brust has never been a overly verbose writer (with the exception of Five Hundred Years After and the Phoenix Guards), a fact that I appreciate, but in the past I found his off-hand sketches of the city atmosphere to be quite illuminating in terms of creating a scene for the action. I never really got that sense from his descriptives of the various battlefields, camp life, etc...Perhaps he meant to indicate the confusion of war with this scarcity of language, but it didn't have that effect for me. I felt like he failed to fully imagine his backdrop. Much of the book struck me as taking place in a sort of colorless, generic battlefield context. I didn't get the sense of place that i've come to expect from his work.
That said, I found many of the characters quite enjoyable, most notable Vlad's squadmate dragons. And it is refreshing to see him return to the 1st person.