April 15th, 2019


Vlad Taltos

Speaking as someone who was an utterly voracious reader as a kid, it's pretty rare for me to run into a fairly well-known fantasy series from the 80s that a) I've never read, and b) still holds up really well today. The Taltos books by Steven Brust are that. I had kind of vaguely heard of them, think I might have tried to read one of the later ones about 20 years ago and bounced off it, but that was all I knew until I borrowed the first one, Jhereg, from [personal profile] rachelmanija when I visited her at the end of March to read on the plane. I devoured it. I wanted more. I just got done with book 4, Taltos, today. And there are so many more of them to read! They're great! I love everybody in this (weird, jhereg-and-assassin-filled) bar.

Based on what I knew about the series, I was expecting "snarky asshole loner hero"; what I was not expecting was a snarky asshole who claims to be a loner while absolutely tripping over himself at every turn to do everything he can for his friends, right up to dying for them (repeatedly). And his friends are just that loyal to him, too. The narrative voice is delightful -- it's very contemporary urban fantasy; the books themselves are a sort of weirdo SFF/high-fantasy/urban-fantasy mashup. The worldbuilding is strange and original and fun. And (not at all a given in a 1980s fantasy series) the books do great with women, both in the way that individual female characters are written, and the worldbuilding in which it is perfectly unremarkable to encounter female mooks, guards, businesspeople, farmers, ship captains, and the like.

Spoilery comments on individual books follow.

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Anyway, I am head over heels for this series right now and will be running off to start reading PHOENIX shortly.

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