Books of 2011: Dragaera

You probably thought that I've given up reading, haven't you? Actually, I've just been waiting for an opportune moment! to strike! This one was important to me.


Let me ask you: can you tell a who is a Steven Brust fanboi by looking at this picture?

With Vlad Taltos:

Included in The Book of Jhereg: Jhereg, Yendi, and Teckla
Included in The Book of Taltos: Taltos and Phoenix
Included in The Book of Athyra: Athyra and Orca
Tiassa (the only one not in the picture, as I got it from the library and don't own it yet)

The Khaavren Romances:

The Phoenix Guards
Five Hundred Years After
The Viscount of Adrilankha, which includes The Paths of the Dead, The Lord of Castle Black, and Sethra Lavode

And The Brokedown Palace standalone


What do I say about some universe that I own nearly all of the books of? How do I sum up something that I enjoy so much and try to make you interested in it? Well, here goes nothing...

Dragaera is a world with two main races, humans, who are actually humans, but called easterners by the dragaerans (because they come from the east), and dragaerans, who call themselves humans, but who the humans call elves (and who come from The Empire. say it with the capital letters). Oh, and one more thing, dragaerans live several thousand years, while easterners are just regular humans. Did any of that make sense? Anyway, as a swashbuckler fantasy, there are swords and magic and Halls of the Gods and much buckle swashing. That's the setting.

So then in the Vlad Taltos series, we follow an easterner named Vlad Talos, who through a series of foolish moves by his father, is also a citizen of The Empire and a member of one of the Dragaeran houses, of which there are 17, and which are all named after some animal of Dragaera. Specifically, though, Vlad is a member of the only house that cares more about money than appearances, House Jhereg, which is sort of the organized crime syndicate of The Empire. As an easterner, Vlad has learned how to use "witchcraft," and has a familiar named Loiosh, who is a smartass Jhereg (which are small flying scavenger lizards, not dragons) and as a citizen of The Empire is also able to use dragaeran "sorcery" which is more of the traditional fatasy magic. Vlad is a small time boss in the organization, and on the side is a pretty good assassin. Much hijinks and witty dialogue ensue, etc, etc.

In the Khaavren Romances, we follow a character who is only briefly mentioned  in the Vlad novels, Lord Khaavren, who at the time of the Vlad novels is the Empress's head of the Guard.  The Khaavren Romances, however, written in the verbose form of Alexandre Dumas, take place somewhere around 1000 years in the past from Vlad, and follow Khaavren's rise to fame through the fall and rebirth of The Empire during its 17th Phoenix cycle (it's complicated).  I know that the wordy style can be an acquired taste, but I find it really funny.  These are very swashbuckly, and it's fun to see some ot the characters you've gotten used to from the Vlad series written in a completely different style.

The Brokedown Palace is completely separate story, set in the East during a time of change for the Kingdom of Fenario.  It is really hard to explain.  Just be sure that you read this one after you've got some of the other ones under your belt, or else you will miss about a thousand foreshadowings and references.  Many theories abound at when it takes place in relation to the Vlad stories, and how certain other characters are related to Vlad and his acquaintances.

And that brings me right in to one of the best things about Steven Brust's Dragaera stories.  Everything--and I mean EVERYTHING--is connected and related.  Vlad starts to explain a story in book and decides not to finish, and you wonder what happened, and then three books later he finishes it.  Or a small object mentioned in passing becomes a major plot item many years down the story line.  And it's all the more amazing considering that the first novel was first published in 1983!  I have no idea how Mr. Brust keeps all the details straight in his head, or even how he keeps them in his head.  And it's even more amazing on top of that that the stories are written all out of order.

So there you have it, one of my absolute favorites.  I highly recommend that you go out and search them down.


Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Great books, I have them all.

Have you read "The Desecrator" yet? It's a short ebook, and features Daymar and Telnan in the discovery of Nightslayer.

bluesun said...

Oh yeah, I read that one too. Kinda funny to see Daymar out and about.

BobG said...

One of my favorite series and authors.