This is a review of the book “Taltos” by Steven Brust.
All people have to earn a living, even assassins. A journey through the Paths of the Dead would be tempting except everyone knows that a living human cannot walk there and return alive. But being an Easterner is not exactly like being human, by Dragaeran standards anyway, so thusly this particular rule won’t apply to Taltos. He hopes.
A rich world where everyone has access to magic of some kind, with the elf-like Dragaerans as the ruling class and with humans (Easterners) as the secondary citizens. With cat-centaurs and gods and souls inhabiting staffs, and dark vampire queens living on top of mountains and teleportation everywhere. There is obviously a lot to this world. It is rich, varied and vast. The characters were good and even interesting – although Vlad Taltos himself came across as a bit blank, but the story wasn’t even 200 pages long which might have had something to do with it.
It might not have been the smartest to start with the fourth book of the series even if it is the first book chronologically, but I hoped that it wouldn’t matter. And I was mostly right. Although some things were a bit confusing, it wasn’t too noticeable and as the story went on I got used to them and stopped noticing them altogether. I really did like reading how Vlad Taltos got into the business as an assassin, and in the end that was more interesting than the entire main story in my opinion.
The main story in itself was entertaining but it isn’t the best that I have ever read. Vlad Taltos himself actually does very little in it apart from being pulled along by others, and the parts where he does things are almost glossed over in the telling and thusly seem to matter very little. Except for the very end. The author is also overly fond of ‘seems’ and ‘seemingly’ and ‘as if’. It does retract from the wholeness of the story. As does the use of some words – like ‘guys’ – that just throw me a bit off kilter and not in a good way. Both these things make the writing less professional and a bit confusing in itself.
I’m not discouraged from this at all. It wasn’t as good as I expected (though that could be because I started with the wrong book, the jury is still out on this one), but it wasn’t as bad as I had feared.
I will most likely get the first book of the series – “Jhereg” – at one point.