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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vlad Taltos story number Ten
This highly entertaining comic fantasy novel is the tenth published book in the story of Vladimir Taltos, and currently (October 2011) 11th in chronological sequence of the first thirteen books. The action of the story begins within two hours of the conclusion of the previous book "Issola". However, in most respects this novel continues the storylines of two earlier books...
Published on 16 Nov. 2006 by Marshall Lord

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3.0 out of 5 stars A quick, unfulfilling read
It's been a while since I've read a Taltos book and I have to say that this instalment in the series is not encouraging, especially after the excellent effort in Issola . Vlad is back in his old neighbourhood of South Adrilankha where his ex-wife needs some help as getting rid of the mob in that area has not helped in the way she thought it would.

This book has...
Published on 17 Sept. 2010 by K. Maxwell


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vlad Taltos story number Ten, 16 Nov. 2006
By 
Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This highly entertaining comic fantasy novel is the tenth published book in the story of Vladimir Taltos, and currently (October 2011) 11th in chronological sequence of the first thirteen books. The action of the story begins within two hours of the conclusion of the previous book "Issola". However, in most respects this novel continues the storylines of two earlier books in the series, "Tecla" and "Phoenix."

Despite the fact that "The Orgaisation" wants him dead, Vlad returns to the Imperial capital, Adrilankha city at the start of this book - perhaps feeling that having survived being caught up in battles between Gods, it is not worth getting too scared of mortal gangsters. This may be a mistake ...

If you have not previously read any of Steven Brust's "Vlad Taltos" novels or "Khaavren" romances, they are all set in a world of magic, where there are several intelligent species, including two types of men and women. Humans like ourselves are usually referred to as "Easterners," the other type of men and women call themselves humans but are usually referred to in the books as "Dragaerans" or occasionally as Elves. Dragaerans are taller than humans, live 2,000 or 3,000 years or so, and then after death are eligible for reincarnation provided they have not annoyed a God too much or had their soul destroyed by a "Morganti" weapon or a "Great Weapon."

Morganti weapons are used between mortals when they are really angry with someone because they don't just kill you, but destroy your soul. "Great Weapons," are particularly deadly Morganti weapons which can even kill Gods. Tradition said that there are exactly seventeen Great Weapons, (this is a special number to Dragaerans) but it is not clear whether this includes a new Great Weapon, carried by the hero, which was created at the end of "Issola."

All Dragaerans belong to one of seventeen "Great Houses" named after animals of the fantasy world in which the novels are set. Twelve of the thirteen novels featuring Vlad Taltos, including "Dzur," are named after one of these great houses, and all but one of these also feature a member of that house in a prominent role. If Steven Brust is planning to write a novel for each house we are about two thirds of the way through the series.

Each animal and the great houses named for them epitomises two characteristics, and the houses tend to have a preferred occupation to which those characteristics are relevant. For examples Dragons symbolise war and conquest, Dzur (which look a bit like tigers) represent heroism and honor, hence Dragaeran members of House Dragon and House Dzur tend to be soldiers. "Tecla" look like mice and symbolise cowardice and fertility: members of House Tecla are peasants. "Chreotha" represent forethought and ensnarement, and members of that house are merchants. The Orca (Killer Whale) represents Brutality and Mercantilism: members of that house are sailors, pirates or - wait for it - bankers, and "Jhereg" representing greed and corruption are gangsters or assassins.

Most members of House Jhereg are also involved in "the organisation" which controls organised crime. "The organisation" is also called "The right hand of the Jhereg" and there is a sinister group of female sorcerers called "the left hand of the Jhereg" which has been mentioned in previous books but with whom the hero becomes involved for the first time in this one.

The hero, Baronet Vladimir Taltos, is an assassin and minor sorcerer, who used to be a prominent member of House Jhereg, but is now on the run from them after developing an unfortunate case of principles, which he tries very hard to hide. He has two companions, Loiosh and Rocza who are actual Jhereg - that is to say, they are small intelligent flying reptiles.

Taltos narrates these stories with a wonderful dry wit which is one of the best aspects of the novels.

Stven Brust makes some attempt to recognise that some readers might be new to this book and not have read the previous novels in the series. This does not IMHO make it a good idea to start with this book, but it is still sometimes useful in helping previous readers who don't have a memory like a computer to follow the complex plot. Those who have not read the previous books will still probably find "Dzur" hard going.

To give an example of the sort of detail you will completely miss if you tackle "Dzur" without reading any of the earlier books: two important characters in the series are actually the same person. One of Vlad's oldest friends is really a cover identity, complete with magically disguised appearance and a whole network of friends and contacts, used by one of the most powerful figures in the Empire when she wishes to go somewhere incognito. Vlad is one of the very few people who knows "both" identities and it took him years before he figured it out in the book "Orca".

In "Dzur", Vlad needs some help which the cover identity - let's call her "B" - can provide, so he goes to the home of the real identity - let's call her "A" - and asks if "A" can get a message to "B". Instead of agreeing to take the message, "A" replies that she is expecting "B" to drop by, leaves the room, and comes back half an hour later as "B". They discuss what Vlad is asking for, "B" leaves, and comes back shortly afterwards as "A".

At no point does either party directly acknowledge that Vlad knows A and B to be the same person, and she knows perfectly well that Vlad knows. If you have read "Orca" this little comedy of manners is hysterically funny. The reader who has not read "Orca" is likely to completely miss it.

It is almost impossible to describe the plot of this book without spoiling the story of the earlier novels "Tecla" and "Phoenix" or the immediately preceding novel "Issola" so I won't attempt to do so.

The books are not written in a regular chronological sequence: for example, the fourth novel, "Taltos" is a prequel set before the main action of any of the others. The most recently published at the time of updating this review, "Tiassa," consists of five linked stories or scenes set at very different times - actually, one of them is outside normal time altogether - of which the first is one of the earliest Vlad Taltos stories and the final one, which I've used to place the book in the chronological sequence below, is set last of the stories published to date.

Most of the books contain either flashbacks to much earlier events, references to much later events, or both. Indeed, several of these books, of which "Dzur" is one, include two separate timelines in each chapter. In this case the book starts with a meal at the legendary restaurant, Valabars, at which Vlad meets the Dzurlord who gives his house name to the book, and also finally gets to meet the equally legendary assassin, Mario Greymist. Each chapter starts with an account of the food served during one course of this meal, but the rest of each chapter describes the continuing story of the intrugues which Vlad gets involved in as soon as the meal is over.

You will get most out of these books if you read them in something close to the "official" order.

If you are interested in these books, my recommendation would be to start with either the first book written, "Jhereg" or the chronologically first book, "Taltos." If you like the first one you do read, and decide to read the rest, I recommend that you follow something like the order the books were published. Here is a list of the books in publication order, with the chronological place of the main action of each book in brackets after:

1 Jhereg (4th)
2 Yendi (3rd)
3 Tecla (5th)
4 Taltos (1st)
5 Phoenix (6th)
6 Athyra (8th)
7 Orca (9th)
8 Dragon (2nd)
9 Issola (10th)
10) Dzur (11th)
11) Jhegaala (7th)
12) Iorich (12th)
13) Tiassa (13th but see above).

If you enjoy the Taltos novels, you might be interested in another sequence of books which Steven Brust has set in the same country, but quite a few centuries earlier. These are something between a parody and a homage to the novels of Alexandre Dumas. He's called them the "Khaavren Romances" after the central character of the first two novels, who corresponds very closely to D'Artagnan.

Obviously none of the human characters overlap, but some of the Dragaerans do: Khaavren himself, who belongs to the house of the Tiassa, appears directly or at one remove in two or three of the Vlad Taltos books. He meets Vlad briefly in "Tecla," and at rather greater length in "Tiassa." Two of the major characters in the Taltos novels, Sethra Lavode and Lord Morrolan of Castle Black, are also important enough in the Khaavren series to have books named after them.

The five Khaavren romances, in sequence, are

1) "The Phoenix Guards" (equivalent to "The Three Musketeers")
2)"Five Hundred Years After" (equivalent to "Twenty years after")

Then a trilogy "The Viscount of Adrilankha" (e.g. "The Viscount of Bragelonne") which comprises

3) The Paths of the Dead
4) The Lord of Castle Black
5) Sethra Lavode

Overall I found both the "Taltos" novels and the "Khaavren Romances" very entertaining: I recommend both series and this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brust does it again!, 21 Mar. 2008
By 
Steven R. McEvoy "MCWPP" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
It is hard to believe that a series of books has kept my attention through 10 books. Yet that is exactly what Brust has done. Every time a new book comes out I go back and reread the entire series up to that point. I read the first ones back in the 80's in high school as they came out, and I thought that the Character of Vlad Taltos was the coolest. He is a member of House Jehreg and a sometime assassin. Vlad once read quickly becomes an immensely popular protagonist. I have introduced these books to numerous friends and all have loved him and the books.

Issola, in the book before Dzur Vlad, is wandering around the countryside with a price on his head, and lamenting about how his life got so turned upside down. Vlad in Dzur, gets to do what he likes best- he starts stirring things up and seeing where the pieces fall.

One of my favorite elements of this series is that you never know how Brust will start chapters off. Each book has had chapter headings in a new and unique way. In the one book it was quick wit "No matter how subtle the wizard a knife between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style." In another it is a list of cleaning and repairs to an outfit. In this one it is a recollection of a meal at Valabar's - a restaurant that makes appearances throughout the series. If Brust is able to create the meal described in these snippets he is not only a master wordsmith but must be close to a master chef.

Brust had Vlad come back to the capitol city because his estranged wife is in trouble. He rushes in where angels would fear to tread. He steps into the middle of a power struggle with organized crimes' two sides of the family. He fears getting friends killed or injured, but is more than willing to risk his own neck. However, as Vlad is getting older, he is also mellowing some and maturing.

Vlad realizes that he cannot do it himself. He challenges his patron Goddess to help as much as she can. He also enlists the help of some of those who have offered, but warns them not to take too many risks. Vlad is a little more subdued and subtle in this book compared to some of the earlier ones. However he is just as enjoyable as a character and the journey with him through the adventure in Dzur is as exciting and thrilling as the previous books.

Like the meal described at the beginning of the chapters, Brust's books need to be savored and enjoyed at the pace they come at us. Just as Vlad describes the meal step by step and makes comparisons between preparing a meal and preparing a hit, Brust leads us to discover more and more about Vlad as we go through the courses in this book.

Like each of the previous 9 books in this series, Jhereg (1983), Yendi (1984), Teckla (1987), Taltos (1988), Phoenix (1990), Athyra (1993), Orca (1996), Dragon (1998), Issola (2001), and I'm sure, the forthcoming Jhegaala (2008) this book is a great read. The series is planned to be a total of 19 books, making this one the middle point as far as volumes. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered and the readers salivating for the next volume.

(First Published in Imprint 2007-08-31 as "Series still captivates after 10 books.")
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I cannot beat the previous review...so I will join in, 10 July 2007
Well Marshall Lord has said almost everything there is to say...
However I wanted to say something about this book: I waited what felt like an eon for it's publication and I was not disappointed it was everything I hoped and expected from a Steven Brust novel.

It made me laugh at times, hold my breath until I was forced to breathe or die and wish that there were more pages. Many more pages.

As with many of Brusts novels insignificant little things/descriptions in previous books (that you think are throw away lines) have ways of becoming significant and key to the story...he must have such a memory :-)
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3.0 out of 5 stars A quick, unfulfilling read, 17 Sept. 2010
By 
This review is from: DZUR (Vlad Taltos) (Mass Market Paperback)
It's been a while since I've read a Taltos book and I have to say that this instalment in the series is not encouraging, especially after the excellent effort in Issola . Vlad is back in his old neighbourhood of South Adrilankha where his ex-wife needs some help as getting rid of the mob in that area has not helped in the way she thought it would.

This book has a few minor scenes that advance Vlad's story somewhat, but having said that you also get the impression that the author was more interested in writing his perfect restaurant scenes at the beginning of each chapter than he was with telling a satisfying story. One of the reasons I'm not quick to pick up books in this series these days is because it has dragged on so long over the years with the plot advancing and more interesting stories only appearing every few books. For me this was just a place marker instalment in the series and not one of the books in it I'd be in a hurry to read twice, like I did with the early books on Vlad, which were much more funny and interesting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vlad is back!, 7 Nov. 2009
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This review is from: DZUR (Vlad Taltos) (Mass Market Paperback)
This book thankfully picks up immediately after Issola (Vlad Taltos - Jhereg S.) finished and I spent most of the book eagerly awaiting various meetings and conversations. Brust's writing is wonderfully efficient, he never says anything that the reader can't extrapolate, even if that does mean occasionally slamming to a halt when you realise something said 20 pages back was not what you thought was said. The chapter introductions discussing a meal form a good side note, leaving the reader wondering at how deep the metaphor goes, or whether it is actually just about food.
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DZUR (Vlad Taltos)
DZUR (Vlad Taltos) by Steven Brust (Mass Market Paperback - 14 Feb. 2008)
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