Author: Steven Brust
Series: Vlad Taltos #2
Rating: 3/5 stars
The Overview: Vlad Taltos tells the story of his early days in the House Jhereg, how he found himself in a Jhereg war, and how he fell in love with the wonderful woman, Cawti. -Goodreads
If I had to sum up the Vlad Taltos series in one word, it would be: unconventional. The writing voice is all over the place, flitting between past and present, from in-the-moment to addressing the reader directly. It’s as if Steven Brust took one look at the rules of writing and said, “eff those, I’m going to write however I please.” In my opinion, that’s playing with fire, but some of the most poignant writers take those risks all the time (I’m a firm believer that you must know them well first to break them well). There are places where I thought he took it a little too far, and the heavy voice definitely takes a bit to get used to, but his odd writing style is part of what makes the story so interesting.
Brust also throws you in the deep end of this world to either sink or swim, explaining precisely nothing about the dozens of references he makes throughout the story. He will throw in an occasional anecdote here and there, but for the most part you’re on your own. The first 25% of Yendi required a lot more concentration than normal and I didn’t start enjoying the story until I got (mostly) acclimated.
My favorite thing about the series so far is what feels to me like a merging of genres. It’s definitely a fantasy world but it’s presented with a mystery-driven plot and overlay of humor that reads more like an urban fantasy. I will definitely be continuing on. I plan to use this series as a palate-cleanser every time I get sick of the same old stuff.
Recommendations: Venture into this series with a “just go with it” mentality and be prepared for the atypical. I’d hand this to anyone who might appreciate a fantasy/urban fantasy/mystery tale all bundled into one. I would avoid handing it to someone with risk-adverse reading tastes (or people trying to get their feet wet in the genre).
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