For those unfamiliar with Steve Brust's Dragaera series, it's about a wisecracking assassin in a very urban fantasyland; the series is fast-paced and witty, and has lots of playful stylistic tricks and flourishes. Brust likes to create complex rules for himself. Any given book is liable to have three storylines in three different times or be organized according to a menu or a laundry list or a magic spell, and all the books have seventeen chapters, to correspond with the seventeen noble houses for which all but one of the books are named and thematically linked.

If you like Baccano: The Complete Series (Viridian Collection), the dizzyingly complex anime series about Prohibition gangsters, tricksters, and immortals, you would probably like Dragaera, and vice versa.

I was disappointed in the last couple books in the series. Jhegaala was depressing and dull, and Iorich seemed slight. Tiassa returns to structural and chronological complexity, with four timelines and multiple narrators telling a series of stories concerning a magical silver tiassa (a winged panther representing inspiration and spoilery other stuff), which gets passed from hand to hand: a MacGuffin which may or may have actual powers.

My favorite part was the first, set right after Vlad gets together with Cawti, in which he sets up an elaborate con using the tiassa as a prop. I also enjoyed the second storyline, in which Vlad is absent but a major part of the plot, in which Cawti, Norathar, and Daro work together to avert a complicated plot. The last section was narrated by Paarfi, the prolix Dumas-like writer of the Khaavren adventures, and brings the narrative up to the present. Also, Vlad meets Khaavren. I liked that one the least, as I've never warmed to Paarfi's narration - it's funny for a few pages, but drives me berserk at greater length, as characters take five pages to verbally fence around a question like, "Did you come here to meet me?"

Tiassa (Vlad Taltos)

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For those of you who have never heard of this, it's something like book fourteen in an ongoing series, and probably not the best place to start.

Aliera is jailed for political reasons and is refusing help; Vlad must hire a lawyer – okay, and also investigate and kill some people – to free her.

I enjoyed reading this – a classic Vlad adventure, full of complicated plots and counter-plots and wit – but would have enjoyed it more had it come earlier in the series. Right now I want some resolution or at least progress regarding the Lady Teldra situation and the Vlad-can’t-return-to-Adrilankha (except that he does) situation. At least there was a teeny bit of progress with the Cawti situation.

Iorich (The Vlad Taltos Novels)

Spoilers are pointlessly secretive )


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