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SFF Author: Steven Brust

Steven Brust fantasy author(1955- )
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and raised in a family of Hungarian labor organizers, Steven Brust worked as a musician and a computer programmer before coming to prominence as a writer in 1983 with Jhereg, the first of his novels about Vlad Taltos, a human professional assassin in a world dominated by long-lived, magically-empowered human-like “Dragaerans.” While writing, Brust has continued to work as a musician, playing drums for the legendary band Cats Laughing and recording an album of his own work, A Rose for Iconoclastes. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where he pursues an ongoing interest in stochastics.
Click here for more stories by Steven Brust.



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Jhereg: Appealing and now on audio

Jhereg by Steven Brust

Audio readers, rejoice! Finally, Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS novels have been produced in audio by Audible Frontiers. For years I’ve been planning to read this long series and have only been waiting for this moment.

The VLAD TALTOS novels follow Vlad Taltos, a well-known and highly successful human assassin living on the planet Dragaera. The native species, the Dragaerans, are a tall long-lived race created by sorcerers who cross-bred humans and certain animals. The characteristics of the animals give each clan, or “House,” its name,


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Yendi: A prequel to Jhereg

Yendi by Steven Brust

Loveable assassin Vlad Taltos is back in Yendi, the second in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series. Yendi is actually a prequel to the first novel, Jhereg which introduced us to Vlad, his wife Cawti, his familiar, and several of his friends and enemies. Vlad is a new mob boss who is trying to protect his territory from the encroachment of neighboring mob bosses. When one of them sets up a racket in Vlad’s territory,


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Teckla: In which Vlad Taltos broods

Teckla by Steven Brust

Teckla is the third novel in Steven Brust’s series about Vlad Taltos, a human assassin who lives in the empire of Dragaera which is populated mostly by a species of long-lived tall humanoids who were genetically engineered by sorcerers and divide themselves into clans depending on their specific traits. In the first VLAD TALTOS novel, Jhereg, we met Vlad, an Easterner whose father bought the family into the nobility of the lowly house of Jhereg. Vlad, like many of the Jhereg,


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Taltos: Lots of backstory about Vlad

Taltos by Steven Brust

Taltos is the fourth novel in Steven Brust’s series about Vlad Taltos, a human crime boss in the fantasy world of Dragaera, where humans are short of stature and lifespan compared to the species that rule the world. Taltos is actually a prequel to the previous novels (Jhereg, Yendi, Teckla) in which Vlad tells us about an incident that happened years ago while he was solidifying his reputation as a new crime lord.


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Phoenix: A turning point in Vlad’s story

Phoenix by Steven Brust

Phoenix, the fifth novel in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series, is a turning point in Vlad’s story. By the end of this book, his life will have changed drastically. The story begins as Vlad is stuck in a situation that he might not be able to get out of alive. In desperation, he calls on Verra, his patron goddess, for help. She saves him (or so it appears), and in return she demands that he sail to the island kingdom of Greenaere and assassinate its king.


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Athyra: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Athyra by Steven Brust

Athyra is the sixth book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series. If you haven’t read the previous books, you should probably skip this review until you’ve read Phoenix so that I don’t spoil its plot for you. I’m listening to Bernard Setaro Clark’s narration of the audio versions (Audible Studios) of VLAD TALTOS. Athyra is 8.5 hours long on audio, though I increased the playback speed, as I always do, so it was shorter than that for me.


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Orca: Brust is still playing around with voice and structure

Orca by Steven Brust

Orca is the seventh book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series. It’d be best to stop here if you haven’t read the previous books. We don’t want to spoil anything, do we?

Okay, so you should recall that Vlad Taltos, everyone’s favorite Jhereg assassin, is wanted by his organization because he betrayed them in order to save his wife from the executioner’s ax (or whatever implement the executioners in Dragaera use). Vlad has given up his territory and is on the run.


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Dragon: In which Vlad Taltos is a soldier

Dragon by Steven Brust

Dragon is the eighth novel in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series. As you’re reading the series, it probably doesn’t matter when you read Dragon since it’s really a stand-alone story which tells of a battle that occurred earlier in the series’ chronology, just after the events of Taltos, which was a prequel to the first three VLAD TALTOS novels. (As you can see, the books jump around in time). But Dragon is not one of the better volumes,


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Issola: Vlad is back!

Issola by Steven Brust

I miss the days when I used to be nostalgic.” ~Vlad Taltos

I’ve been slightly disappointed with the last few novels in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series, but with Issola, book 9, Brust returns to what I liked about the earlier books. While I admired Brust’s willingness to experiment with his world, his characters, and especially the narrative structure of his novels, I think he’s best when the overall plot is moving forward and Vlad is using his assassin skills to solve mysteries and help his powerful Dragonlord friends.


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Dzur: In which Vlad Taltos eats a lot

Dzur by Steven Brust

In Dzur, the tenth book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series, Vlad is finally back in the city of Adrilankha. I suspect that most fans will be thrilled to return to that decadent cosmopolitan city; it’s just so much more interesting than watching Vlad roam around the countryside. Fittingly, each of the chapters in Dzur is named for one of the items Vlad is served at his favorite restaurant during a gourmet meal that runs parallel to the main plot of Dzur.


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Jhegaala: Vlad is one of the most entertaining protagonists

Jhegaala by Steven Brust

Jhegaala is the 11th novel in the excellent VLAD TALTOS series by Steven Brust. In case you’re not familiar with the series, Vlad Taltos is a human assassin living in the Dragaeran empire. Dragaerans are human-like, but live for 1000 years or more and have a complex society divided into 17 Great Houses which all bear some resemblance to a real or mythical animal. So we have the Houses of the Orca and the Hawk, but also the Houses of the Dzur,


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Iorich: A blast for Vlad Taltos fans (if you’re not one, you should be)

Iorich by Steven Brust

Remember those episodes of Matlock in which someone is arrested for a crime, but during the investigation it turns out that the arrest was really just a front for a much larger intrigue? Steven Brust‘s newest VLAD TALTOS novel Iorich is sort of like that — except the person who is arrested is Aliera e’Kieron, and the larger intrigue involves Empress Zerika of the Dragaeran Empire. Oh, and Matlock’s role is played by Vlad Taltos, human assassin and bon-vivant,


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Tiassa: Some of the smartest and most entertaining fantasy around

Tiassa by Steven Brust

Tiassa is the thirteenth Vlad Taltos novel by Steven Brust, and counting Brokedown Palace and The Khaavren Romances, the nineteenth book to date set in Dragaera. Over on tor.com (where this review was also published), Jo Walton has written an excellent series of blog posts about the series so far so I won’t waste your time trying to summarize this amazing series and instead direct you to Jo’s spoiler-free introduction just in case you’re new to Dragaera.


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Hawk: Feels more like the earlier novels

Hawk by Steven Brust

“My heart gave a thump. It had been doing that a lot lately. I wished it would stop. I mean stop giving random thumps, not, you know, stop.” ~Vlad Taltos

Note: This review contains spoilers for previous novels in the series.

Hawk is Steven Brust’s fourteenth (and latest) novel about Vlad Taltos, a charming assassin living in Dragaera. Over the past 31 years, fans of this series have been through a lot with Vlad and Loiosh, Vlad’s flying reptilian familiar.


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Vallista: Vlad gets trapped in a mysterious mansion

Vallista by Steven Brust

Everyone’s favorite Jhereg assassin is back in Vallista, Steven Brust’s fifteenth VLAD TALTOS novel. If you’re not familiar with this series, don’t start here. Get a copy of Jhereg and read the books in publication order (which is not, by the way, the same as the internal chronological order, but that’s okay). Let me recommend the audio versions produced by Audible Studios and read by Bernard Setaro Clark. He does such a great job capturing Vlad’s sarcastic personality and the amusing dialogue between Vlad and Loiosh,


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To Reign in Hell: Fantastic accomplishment

To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust

The accomplishments here are nothing short of spectacular. Imagine writing a book populated with some of the most well known characters in Western history: Yahweh, Jesus, Satan, Lucifer (yes, they are separate), and the archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel. They all need unique personalities. If they’re not, if they’re retreads of biblical, Dante, Milton, or others, then the book fails.

Then imagine creating a reason for God to create the Cherubs, Seraph, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, etc. Give all of them a purpose. Imagine creating Heaven,


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The Phoenix Guards: Very nice change of pace

The Phoenix Guards by Steven Brust

The brief review: I had a slight smile on my face the entire time I read The Phoenix Guards. It is, as a reviewer of The Three Musketeers might have once said, “charming.”

To elaborate: Steven Brust is very well (some might say “over”) educated and knows how to turn a phrase. The plot moves along briskly; the characters, while not fleshed out too thoroughly, do have distinct and effective personalities. I was,


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Five Hundred Years After: Brust is brilliant

Five Hundred Years After by Steven Brust

If there were justice in the literary world, you’d think Steven Brust would have received more acclaim and notice, as Brust’s writing is crisp and lively, his pacing excellent.

As explained in an “interview” with the book’s pompous narrator, Brust writes for those who love to read, i.e. those who enjoy a good vocabulary, good grammar, good phrasing, and (indeed) a good story. This is not some “page-turner” to be engulfed at one-sitting; if you did that with a box of Godiva chocolates,


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The Paths of the Dead: Irksome, but I want to read more Brust

The Paths of the Dead by Steven Brust

The Paths of the Dead is the first book in Steven Brust’s THE VISCOUNT OF ADRILANKHA trilogy, which is a sequel to The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years. Each of these books is an installment in Brust’s KHAAVREN ROMANCES and they’re all related to his VLAD TALTOS books which, at this moment, consist of 13 novels. All of these books have just been released in audio format by Audible Frontiers.


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The Gypsy: A Brust & Lindholm collaboration

The Gypsy by Steven Brust and Megan Lindholm

Experienced police man Mike Stepovich anf his green partner Durand apprehend a gypsy suspected of murdering a shopkeeper. Stepovich immediately notices something strange about the gypsy and does something he’s never done in his long career. He fails to turn in the knife the gypsy is carrying. Somehow he knows the gypsy is not the murderer and the knife is special. Later that night, the gypsy disappears without a trace from the police cell they are holding him in. Murder investigations are not the territory of an ordinary patrol cop but this case does not let him go,


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The Incrementalists: An ambitious collaboration

The Incrementalists by Steven Brust & Skyler White

The Incrementalists is collaboration between authors Steven Brust and Skyler White. I was more familiar with White going in, having enjoyed her trippy novels and Falling, Fly and In Dreams Begin. My experience with Brust’s vast catalogue was sadly limited to having read The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars many years ago while obsessively collecting the FAIRY TALE SERIES. In The Incrementalists,


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Good Guys: Pleasant but forgettable

Good Guys by Steven Brust

The Foundation, a secretive government agency, collects people who have magical powers and puts them to work for minimum wage. They are tasked with keeping evil magic users under control while ensuring that normal people don’t find out that magic exists.

In Good Guys (2018) we follow three of these folks: Donovan, Susan “Hippie Chick,” and Marci. At the Foundation’s direction, they are working together to investigate a string of magical murders which are getting progressively more gruesome and seem to have a particular end-game in mind.


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Next SFF Author: Kathleen Bryan
Previous SFF Author: Rhett C. Bruno

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