Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

IORICH by Steven Brust

Steven Brust has been spinning tales about his laconic assassin for twenty-seven years. Vlad Taltos reads like a Robert B. Parker character, which is legitimate because Brust is a self-admitted fan of the author’s work, and of the Spenser character. But he has also spent a lot of time developing the world Vlad and his friends hang out in. The streets, marketplaces, and official buildings all feel real, and the relationships grow and change.

In Brust’s twelfth Vlad book, his friend Aliera has been arrested for practicing Elder Sorcery, something she has always done and hasn’t taken any pains to hide. Everyone has always known it. However, the person prosecuting her is the Empress, who is actually one of Aliera’s closest friends. It’s all puzzling, which is how Brust has been working his books lately, and usually it works.

I loved the writing. The book just flows and the pages are easy to turn. I got lost in the world and the characters and the history I’ve picked up from reading the other novels in this series. I enjoyed the meetings Vlad had with all his friends and with his ex-wife, most of whom really weren’t all that excited to see him and didn’t want him poking around in what was going one.

But the reunion that was the most touching was the one with his son, young Vlad. His son is the one person that asks the questions that Vlad normally lies about or simply ignores. However, he can’t do that with his son and he ends up having to face the real answers for why he does things. The sequences are very telling and well done.

Brust also has his game on when it comes to witty repartee in this one. The dialogue is fun to read and follow, and you can hear the voices in your head. (I really wish someone would do audiobooks in the series before long. Tantor Media would do a great job.) The ongoing interior conversation he has with Lioish is absolutely fantastic.

I have to admit that though I loved the writing, the constant circling of the plot got on my nerves. Vlad made the trip enjoyable, and there is the city and the world to look at, but the trip also became too repetitious. I grew tired of talking to the same people over and over again and not getting much back for my investment. And I wanted more action. One scene in particular, where Vlad intentionally takes a beating, is pared down to almost nothing except a brief overview of what it’s like to take a beating painwise, but none of the real skill that would have to be employed.

I enjoyed the book though, and it was a pleasant few hours filled with fun characters, but I do hope next time out they do more than simply talk about things.


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