Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Paths of the Dead by Steven Brust

Review written 2003
The Paths of the Dead (The Viscount of Adrilankha, Book 1)I've enjoyed most of what Mr. Brust has written over the years, and I'd hoped that this was another novel in the Vlad Taltos series, but it turned out to be set in an earlier period of the Dragaeran Empire. Ah, well. A few years ago, he wrote The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After. This one could have been called 150 Years After, as it takes place that much past FHYA.

In this novel, we get to learn a lot of things about the characters we came to love in The Phoenix Guards and also some things about characters from the Taltos series. We find out how Morrolan got his name, came to study eastern sorcery, and met the Lady Teldra. We also learn more about the Empress Zerika, and how she came into possession of the Orb (the artifact that holds the empire together).

Sethra Lavode, Sethra the Younger, and the Sorceress in Green figure prominently, as do Tazendra, Aerich, Pel and Khaavren.

It's a bit slow in spots, and Brust writes in the mildly irritating conversation style of Parfi the historian, as he did in his earlier works about these characters. I much prefer the style he used in the Taltos novels, but it was still a good read.

As the story begins, the empire is in ruins after Adron's Disaster, and we follow about a half dozen different plot threads, as people try to put things back in order. Some are trying to put things back together by force, while others use subterfuge.

This book is just part one of the series subtitled The Viscount of Adrilanka, and I eagerly await the sequel(s).


redhead said...

I've loved all of Brust's Vlad Taltos novels, and I've started The Phoenix Guards a few times, but I keep putting it down. I just couldn't get into the writing style.

I'm hoping I can get past the "Parfi-ness" In Paths of the Dead because I really, really want to know about Morrolan's early years, and everyone else we meet later through Vlad's eyes.

Can Paths of the Dead be read as a stand alone? or do I really need to plow through Phoenix Guards first?

Jon said...

@redhead - No need to plow through Phoenix Guards before reading PotD. The trilogy stands on its own. PG just gives you more background on some of the characters, and history leading up to Adron's Disaster.