Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Book of Jhereg: Jhereg

I bought The Book of Jhereg last year, when my brother and I were going to a conference that the author, Steven Brust, was going to be at.  Unfortunately neither of us read it in time (my brother had a copy of just Jhereg which was missing some pages; I didn't receive my copy of The Book of Jhereg until a few weeks after the conference).  So now, with that same conference coming up in a month and a half, we both decided it was time to read!

The Book of Jhereg is actually the first three adventures of Vlad Taltos, Jhereg, Yendi, and Teckla, collected into one volume.  According to the author, these are not the chronologically first three books (just the first three that were published).

To make things a bit easier, I've decided to review each of the three books separately here on this blog.

Jhereg was a good introduction to Vlad Taltos (and Steven Brust's writing).  It gives the story of how Vlad got his familiar, the jhereg Loiosh.  And then it skips ahead and gives us an adventure in their lives many years later.  Vlad, now an assassin with his own business, is hired for a big and seemingly impossible job.  A Dragaeran has made off with a lot of money.  And Vlad has to make an example of him.  The catch is that he has to do it before word of what the Dragaeran did gets out to the public.  Which gives him only a few days and not nearly enough time to study his quarry and plan the hit.  And of course when he does find the Dragaeran, things go from bad to worse: he is hiding in Castle Black, protected by the lord (who happens to be one of Vlad's friends/employers).  With the clock ticking, how will he get the Dragaeran without starting a war or dishonouring his friend?

Jhereg was honestly a lot of fun.  I loved all the characters, from Loiosh's asides to the Dragaeran cousins Aliera and Morrolan's bickering (to put it lightly).  Brust also did a great job worldbuilding: the Dragaeran empire seemed like an interestingly complicated place (made moreso by the Dragaerans' long lives - I mean, someone can spend 10 years planning something and it's considered a "short time.")  There were a couple of revelations that, while interesting, seemed a little out of place.  I think they're something that will be built on in later books (or at least I hope they will be!)  I also would have liked to know how the characters all met (particularly Vlad, Aliera, and Morrolan).  Jhereg touched on these things, but I felt like there was a lot more to the story that I would like to know.

So anyway, that's Jhereg.  I hope the fun continues in the next book, Yendi.

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