Monday, April 25, 2011

Tiassa by Steven Brust

Tiassa (Vlad)
I was actually quite surprised to find this out so quickly at my local library. I've been a huge Brust fan for years, and have avidly followed, read, and re-read his Taltos series, so I was thrilled to find Tiassa, the thirteenth book in the series. I'm guessing there will be 17or 18 by the time it's all finished, mimicking the Cycle and accounting for all of the houses, with the addition of the book titled Taltos a while back.

Tiassa is structured a little differently. No surprises there, Brust likes to mess with conventions a bit when it comes to story lines. It begins with a scene between Vlad and Sethra LaVode, where he shows her a silver sculpture of a tiassa which is the focus of the entire story, being rumored to have mystical powers, though its powers turn out in the end to have nothing to do with what is commonly known. Then the story hops back in time to shortly after Vlad and Cawti met (and she tried to assassinate him), when he gets involved in an elaborate con with the participation of the Viscount of Adrilankha, which ends up with Khaavren (of Phoenix Guards and elsewhere fame) owing Vlad a favor.

The story continues to bounce around, and Brust very skillfully weaves timelines and characters from all of his novels together for the first time here. It was quite entertaining to see the contrast between the parts of the tale told in Vlad's "voice" and those in the style of "Khaavren" and his friends. Then, when Vlad and Khaavren are actually on stage together, the banter and verbal sparring are a thing of beauty to behold. Parvi the historian puts in an appearance, as well, giving Brust the chance to elucidate a bit on the notions of storytelling and history.

Unfortunately, it had been too long since I read the last installment of Vlad, so I'm going to have to go back and revisit it, just so I understand the reasoning behind the ending of this book. Might not be a bad idea, if you've got copies of Dzur, Iorich and Jhegaala laying about the house, to give them a glance before you pick this one up. My only other worry is that Brust may be finally going into a Heinlein-esque senile phase, where the desire to throw all of his characters from all of his stories into the crockpot leaves us all with indigestion. Only time will tell.

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