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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Yendi (Vlad Taltos, #2)Yendi by Steven Brust
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I freely admit that I don't know whether this second book was written before or after the first's publication date, but it certainly falls five years before the main action of the previous novel.

Why does this matter? I don't mind having that tantalizing clue of having died years ago in the first novel being expanded into it's own interesting tale, but something has been itching under my skin as I read Yendi.

It didn't feel as polished as the previous novel. I kept picking up on clues that felt like this was the first tale, not the second. It was straightforward, following action after action, reversal after reversal. The previous novel jumped through time with important scenes and barrelling through ten years giving us the weight of great things and interesting stories untold, letting our imaginations do most of the work and driving us into some seriously important Work without stalling. This second novel compressed the time involved to just a few months, keeping things simple if not uncomplicated.

So why do I feel like this one could have really been the first novel of Mr. Brust? Because he didn't use all of the excellent tools of his writing that were at his disposal.

Don't get me wrong. This was a great mob-boss turf-war novel set among half-dragons and an unfortunate Easterner (read human) interloper in a big city. It also catapulted his love-interest to the forefront, and despite being such a whirlwind romance, I was charmed. Cawti was fully in the driver's seat, whether she was literally killing or loving Vlad. I rooted for both of them. What can I say? It was hopelessly romantic. Thank goodness for revivication. It's what turns any would be tragedy into high comedy.

One thing Steven Brust does fantastic in both novels is the near breakneck speed he can turn any desperate situation into a natural tragedy following from unintended consequences of character's actions.

[In the first book, neither Vlad nor us knew what his casting of the second dragon invitation would do. My heart was in my throat when I, like Vlad, believed that he had just severed the connection with his best friend in order to save his life. The situation was a bit twisted in this novel after I was invited to see Cawti's world through Vlad's eyes after Vlad's assassination had been accomplished. Love at first sight for both of them at the moments of both their deaths... so fucked up, and so damn beautiful. So yes, I say again, thank god for revivication and the kindness of fucking powerful dragon hosts at Castle Black. ]

I really liked the novel's twisty plot turns, the love story, and the quick battles for supremacy. It might not have been as good as the first, but I still really enjoyed it.

I'm still curious to see all the places this series will go. Thank god I've got twelve more to go!

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