Taltos by Steven Brust
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is actually a solid 3.5 stars.
What do you call a prequel of a prequel? We're heading into Vlad's personal past again, but this time only a few years after his days as a tavern owner.
The story is the most straightforward with the least digressions of any of Brust's novels I've read, except during the last third of the novel when I was forced to shift back and forth between current action and flashback regularly. Both sequences were interesting on their own, but something about reading them together seemed a little iffy. It wasn't wrong, per se, but it seemed kinda useless.
That's not to say I didn't entirely enjoy reading about his first assassinations or his first really big job, but frankly, I just wanted more of the main action which felt so much more important.
Not to give such plot secrets away, but my biggest enjoyment in the novel was learning how Vlad met and gained the trust and friendship of the inhabitants of Castle Black. Such recurring involvements were often dark and thoroughly interesting, like a cat playing with a dragon, and their evident trust and approval of Vlad had always appeared to be an inexplicable mystery in the first books.
Well, Now I Know The Rest Of The Story.
I'd like to say that this novel stands well on its own, and it does, for the most part, but in my mind, it falls way too neatly into the category of a flashback of a flashback.
It was okay.
The story might have had a better impact on me if it hadn't been cheapened by Vlad's past within the past.
The main action could have been made much better with a truly interesting climax that didn't merely serve as the purpose of putting the Dragon Lord in his favor. Making a new spell is fine and good, of course, but we're talking about the land of the gods here. We've got practically unlimited resources to go wild, here, and the only real conflict I got to enjoy was a mild sense of why these four characters wind up as friends.
I guess I feel a pretty large sense of wasted opportunity in the otherwise well-written continuing adventures of mr. assassin. I wanted to like it more, of course.
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