Friday, June 8, 2012

Athyra by Steven Brust

Athyra gives us our first glimpse of Vlad as a fugitive, on the run from the assassins of the Jhereg. The story is mostly told from the point of view of Savn, a peasant who lives on the lands of the Lord of Smallcliff, also known as Loraan, whom we've encountered before when Vlad rescued Aliera's soul and acquired Spellbreaker. Shortly after Vlad causes a stir by appearing in town, where Easterners are seldom seen, a man, Reins, is murdered, and suspicions fall upon the newcomer.

Savn was the first person in Smallcliff to encounter Vlad, and he doesn't think that our former Jhereg friend is the type to murder someone - ha! Occam's razor would tell us that if there's an assassin in town, and somebody dies, the assassin probaby has something to do with it - and he does, just not in the way most of the villagers suspect. Savn is apprenticed to the village physicker, Master Wag, and he gets some instruction in conducting an autopsy, which leaves neither of them with any more information than they started with.

It turns out, however, that Reins was the delivery man who got Vlad into Loraan's house in his earlier adventure, and he's been murdered to draw Vlad into a trap. Vlad lingers a bit too long in plain sight, and gets attacked by Lord Smallcliff's soldiers. When he teleports away, the entire village turns out to look for him, but only Savn has a clue where to find him, and he must decide whether to help or hinder our hero in his new quest to kill the sorceror before the sorceror kills him.

This novel has a more serious tone than we've become accustomed to with Vlad as the narrator. Very little banter and sarcasm from this new protagonist, but I suppose we can live with that in a transitional piece.

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