The Book of Jhereg (Vlad Taltos #1-3) by Steven Brust

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Jhereg: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Yendi: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Teckla: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date Read: December 16, 2016 to April 30, 2017

Amazing books. Amazing journey. Very memorable characters. I love Vlad and this world of dragons and dragon people and their layered politics, and I can’t wait to get started on the second omnibus.

I have a thing about reading series in order, and it was with a lot of reluctance and much hand-wringing that I read this series out of chronological order. I had gotten almost the whole series in these omnibus editions that “organized” the books in publication order (i.e. definitely not chronological order), and figuring out where to start or jump in took up too much time. So I just started with the first book of the first omnibus, which was Jhereg, and soon found that the order was not that big a deal for this series, as many people have told me before.

The order in which you read doesn’t affect your enjoyment that much because each book could be read as a standalone–sort of, “technically.” I could explain further now that I’ve read the first three books, set in three different points of Vlad Taltos’ life and career, but the explanation is… gonna get complicated, more complicated.

Suffice it to say I really enjoyed all three books, maybe the third one a little less than the previous two, but that’s only because it contained too many real life implications that mirrored some of my own and reading about those things are never fun.

The writing is great, however, and I never felt it faltering once. This doesn’t mean much unless or until you take into account the series’ complete timeline and you see where each book falls (how years apart they are, how much happens in between). Only Then you would realize the depth and complexity of this world and how writing a series out of order like this is unbelievably difficult. Steven Brust did this all the while maintaining continuity and coherence AND not letting the overarching story line falter, not even once.

It’s amazing, and I’m nothing short of impressed.

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Yendi (Vlad Taltos #2) by Steven Brust

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date Read: January 17 to 31, 2017

Imagine The Godfather, but told from the perspective of a young snarky Vito Corleone who’s all alone and setting out on his own. He’s fighting to make a name for himself as an assassin and mob boss in the Dragarean underworld. He’s got a small network of semi-legitimate businesses and a corner of the city to himself. He’s trying to establish his territory while fighting off stronger, wealthier, more experienced neighbors who are moving in on his turf. He’s fighting on multiple fronts, all the while trying to stay on top of Dragarean politics.

This book has a lot of things going on and the action never stops. Just when you think it can’t get anymore twisty, it gets one more twist in. Turn the page and something new is happening to Vlad. In the midst of all this mess though, Vlad is still an engaging, funny storyteller, and I can listen to him talk all day long.

Like Jhereg, this book is out of order, but unlike Jhereg, it’s near the beginning of Vlad’s tale. So it’s a good place to start the series. You get to know Vlad on his way up the social ladder, but you also get to a glimpse of the things he’s been through that have made him who he is today. He’s still got that optimistic (but also realistic) outlook on life and his place in the world about him that I like. The tone is light and funny and a stark contrast to the story he’s telling, which has a variety of people out to kill him including his future wife… which makes it a little bit funnier because he’s so matter-of-fact about it.

Notes for future reference:
when Vlad first met Cawti and she was paid to kill him